Glossary of Terms Related to Dual Language/TWI in the United States

50/50: An immersion program model in which English and the partner language are each used for 50% of instruction at all grade levels.

90/10: An immersion program model in which students are instructed 90% of the time in the partner language and 10% in English in the first year or two, with the amount of English instruction gradually increasing each year until English and the partner language are each used for 50% of instruction (generally by third grade).

Bilingual education: Used both as an umbrella term for dual language and transitional bilingual programs, and synonymously with transitional bilingual programs.

Developmental bilingual: A dual language program in which students are primarily native speakers of the partner language.

Dual immersion: Used synonymously with dual language, particularly in the Southwestern and Western United States.

Dual language immersion: Used synonymously with dual language.

Dual language: A program in which the language goals are full bilingualism and biliteracy in English and a partner language, students study language arts and other academic content (math, science, social studies, arts) in both languages over the course of the program, the partner language is used for at least 50% of instruction at all grades, and the program lasts at least 5 years (preferably K-12). CAL and other institutions use this term as an umbrella term that includes two-way immersion, foreign language immersion, heritage language immersion, and developmental bilingual programs. Throughout the U.S., it is frequently used synonymously with two-way immersion.

Early exit program: See transitional bilingual education.

English immersion: A program for English language learners in which the goal is proficiency in oral and written English, in which the native language is not used for instruction.

Foreign language experience/exploratory (FLEX): A program characterized by frequent sessions over a short period of time or short and/or infrequent sessions over an extended period of time in order to expose students in Grades K-8 to one or more languages and cultures. Goals are learning about languages, learning basic words and phrases, and/or developing an interest in foreign language for future study. Some instruction may take place in English.

Foreign language immersion: A dual language program in which students are primarily native English speakers learning a foreign language.

Foreign language in the elementary school (FLES): A foreign language class taught at least 75 minutes per week, in which the goals are to acquire listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills and to gain an understanding of and appreciation for other cultures. The focus of instruction can be on language and/or subject matter content. Learn More

Foreign language: In the U.S., a language other than English. See also world language.

Full immersion: See 90/10. Term generally used more frequently by foreign language immersion practitioners than two-way or developmental bilingual practitioners.

Heritage language immersion: A dual language program in which students are primarily English speakers with some proficiency in or a cultural connection to the partner language through family, community, or country of origin.

Heritage language program: A program that aims to develop proficiency in a language that is spoken by the students’ relatives, ancestors, or community members in which the student may have some level of proficiency. Programs may be school-based or community-based and range from an hour a week to full immersion. Learn More

Immersion (referring to a program type): A program in which at least 50% of instruction is in the partner language and, in both English and the partner language, the focus of instruction is on both language and subject content.

Immersion (referring to a technique or a method): A method in which teachers speak in the partner language exclusively during instructional time. May be used in immersion programs or in traditional foreign language classes at any grade level.

Late exit program: A transitional bilingual program in which students receive instruction in the partner language for 4-6 years. May differ from a developmental bilingual program if the amount of instruction in the partner language falls below 50%.

Maintenance bilingual: Less common term for developmental bilingual.

Newcomer program: A specially designed program for new immigrants to the U.S. who are English language learners in which students learn in special classes until they can be integrated into the mainstream. Teachers may or may not use the native language for instruction. They are most often found at upper elementary and secondary grade levels. Learn More

One-way immersion: Used frequently in the Southwestern United States to refer to developmental bilingual education; also frequently used to refer to foreign language immersion (to contrast it with two-way immersion that enrolls students from two language groups).

Partial immersion: See 50/50. Term generally used more frequently by foreign language immersion practitioners than two-way or developmental bilingual practitioners.

Partner language: Alternative term for the language other than English that is used for instruction in programs in the United States. Preferred term in dual language, in which both English and the foreign language are “targets” for developing proficiency.

Side-by-side model: A way of distributing languages for instruction in dual language programs in which students are instructed in one room by an English teacher and in another room by a partner language teacher. Students move between the two classrooms for instruction. Teachers generally teach exclusively in one language to two groups of students.

Spanish for native speakers program: A program of instruction for native speakers of Spanish that complements foreign language instruction in Spanish for non-native speakers. Learn More

Target language: The language other than English that is used for instruction. See partner language.

Transitional bilingual education: A program for English language learners in which the goal is proficiency in oral and written English. The students’ native language is used for instruction for a number of years (1-3 is typical) and is gradually phased out in favor of all-English instruction.

Two-way bilingual immersion: Less common term for two-way immersion.

Two-way immersion (TWI): A dual language program in which both native English speakers and native speakers of the partner language are enrolled, with neither group making up more than two-thirds of the student population.

World language: Increasingly common term for foreign language.


Last updated March 31, 2011