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A BRIEF GUIDE TO RESEARCH ON IMMERSION PROGRAMS. Fred Genesee McGill University French Immersion in Manitoba Conference Winnipeg Feb. 6, 2009. PERILS OF BILINGUALISM. IS BILINGUAL ACQUISITION EXCEPTIONAL?. Chapters: Children with Autism Children with Down’s Syndrome

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A BRIEF GUIDE TO RESEARCH ON IMMERSION PROGRAMS


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a brief guide to research on immersion programs

A BRIEF GUIDE TO RESEARCH ON IMMERSION PROGRAMS

Fred Genesee

McGill University

French Immersion in Manitoba Conference

Winnipeg

Feb. 6, 2009

is bilingual acquisition exceptional
IS BILINGUAL ACQUISITION EXCEPTIONAL?

Chapters:

  • Children with Autism
  • Children with Down’s Syndrome
  • Children with William’s Syndrome
  • Hearing-Impaired Children
  • Children with Visual Impairment
  • Hearing children of deaf parents

Bishop & Mogford 1989

cognitive advantages
COGNITIVE ADVANTAGES

BIALYSTOK

(2004/2007)

  • selective attention

(executive functions of

the brain)

  • focus on relevant task information, screen out irrelevant information
  • a result of managing 2 languages
  • persists into adulthood
road map
ROAD MAP
  • brief review of Canadian Immersion programs
  • lessons from research:

1. value of content-based L2 instruction

2. age

3. time

4. students with learning challenges

+

5. simultaneous bilingualism

  • opportunities & challenges
1 content based language instruction is effective
1. CONTENT-BASED LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION IS EFFECTIVE
  • meaningful content & communicative use of language to promote L2/L3 acquisition:
    • promotes acquisition of authentic language proficiency
    • pedagogically efficient – 2 for the price of 1
    • takes advantage of children’s natural language learning abilities
    • research evidence …
research evidence genesee 2004
Research evidence(Genesee, 2004)
  • English language development
  • academic achievement
  • French proficiency
english language outcomes speaking listening reading writing
ENGLISH LANGUAGE OUTCOMESSpeaking, Listening, Reading, Writing

Immersion Students =Non-immersion students

  • Students in enriched immersion scorebetterthan students in all-
  • English programs on English language tests
academic achievement mathematics science other
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTmathematics, science, other

Immersion Students =Non-immersion students

french proficiency
FRENCH PROFICIENCY

Comprehension Skills (Listening & Reading):

Immersion = Native speakers>Non-immersion

Production Skills (Speaking & Writing):

Immersion <Native speakers >Non-immersion

slide18
BUT…
  • content-based instruction alone is not optimal
  • Immersion students have significant gaps in their grammatical and communicative competence
  • language arts instruction is important
  • focus-on-form can enhance French language competence (Lyster, 2007)
the challenge
THE CHALLENGE…
  • to develop curriculum and pedagogical strategies that promote L2 learning – a curriculum that integrates content and language instruction systematically and explicitly (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000)
2 early l2 instruction is good
2. EARLY L2 INSTRUCTION IS GOOD
  • early exposure takes advantage of young students’ natural language learning ability
  • early socio-cultural openness
  • pedagogy and learning styles are compatible in early grades: learner-centered & interactive
slide21
BUT…
  • early start does not guarantee higher levels of achievement than delayed start
  • delayed L2 exposure can be equally effective sometimes (Genesee, 2004):

late immersion = early immersion sometimes

  • older students are faster learners
  • older learners have well developed L1 literacy skills that can transfer & facilitate L2 literacy development
the challenge22
THE CHALLENGE
  • to develop coherent grade-to-grade curriculum that ensures continuous language development(Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000; Met, 1998)
options
OPTIONS
  • schools and parents have choices – early or delayed focused on L2
  • possibility of late L3 instruction, even immersion (Cenoz & Genesee, 1998)
3 time on task
3. TIME on TASK
  • language acquisition is complex – extended exposure to L2 in immersion is good
  • more time in school creates more time outside school for L2 learning: expanding students’ repertoires through authentic language use in the community

BUT: no simple relationship between time & learning in school….

time acquisition of majority language
TIME & acquisition of majority language
  • time does not matter so much for English

language acquisition

  • early total immersion = partial immersion
  • early total immersion = delayed immersion
  • Immersion students = non-Immersion students
  • How is this possible?
  • Immersion in English outside school

AND

time acquisition of minority languages
TIME & acquisition of minority languages
  • time matters
  • more time in French  greater proficiency in French, generally:
  • total immersion > partial immersion
  • more support for L1 of minority language students  greater L1 and English language competence

WHY? transfer of minority language literacy skills to English and French literacy

slide28
BUT…
  • time is not a psycholinguistic variable:
  • two-year late immersion = early total immersion sometimes
  • simply providing extended immersion experience is not enough
  • time must be translated into effective learning opportunities (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000)
  • educators must have along term*, coherent plan for spending time – how to link language learning to content over time
4 immersion for all
4. IMMERSION FOR ALL?
  • Research on majority language students has shown that it is effective and suitable for students (Genesee, 2004):
    • with academic challenges
    • with poor L1 skills
    • from disadvantaged socio-economic families
    • learning typologically different languages (Hebrew, Japanese, Mohawk)

Little research evidence on students with severe

cognitive, perceptual and socio-emotional challenges

what about children with language or reading acquisition difficulties
WHAT ABOUT CHILDREN WITH LANGUAGE or READING ACQUISITION DIFFICULTIES?

SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST (APRIL 2002)

…. I am a psychologist working in English schools in a very French environment. We are sometimes challenged with children who have been diagnosed with SLI and that come from unilingual French homes. My knowledge of the problematic was leading me to believe that adding yet another language on a child having difficulty mastering his mother tongue could be putting too much pressure and setting the child up for failure.

immersion students with poor l1 skills
Immersion students with poor L1 skills

☼ Bruck (1984)

  • anglophone immersion students with L1 deficits = anglophone control students

☼ Erdos, Genesee & Savage (2008)

  • strong correlation between L1 and L2 reading skills and precursors of reading
french english bilinguals with language impairment paradis crago genesee rice 2003
FRENCH-ENGLISH BILINGUALS with LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT Paradis, Crago, Genesee & Rice (2003)

French-English bilinguals with LI*

(8 years old)

Fr monos with L IEng monos with L I

*Not in bilingual programs

results
RESULTS
  • bilingual children with impairment had same patterns of impairment as monolingual children with impairment – in both English & French
  • bilingual children with impairment had same severity of impairment as monolingual children with impairment – in both English & French
  • children with language impairment were bilingual
evidence monolingual milestones
EVIDENCE: MONOLINGUAL MILESTONES

word first vocabulary word grammar/

segmentation babbling words spurt comb. communicat’n

(7 mths) (10-12 m) (12mths) (18mths) (24mths) (beyond)

bilingual milestones are the same

bilingual milestones are the same

educational implications
Educational Implications
  • 3rd language children and their parents should not be discouraged from using the heritage language at home
  • even if the child is suspected of having a language learning impairment
  • they should be encouraged to use it in ways that reinforce literacy skills
  • this provides a foundation for the acquisition of academic language and literacy in English & French
last words
LAST WORDS
  • Immersion education is effective
  • it is suitable for diverse learner groups
  • effectiveness depends on many variables –

“devil is in the detail”

  • research findings can guide our efforts in planning effective immersion programs
  • need more emphasis on professional development so that instruction continues to evolve with our growing understanding of what makes immersion work
to learn more about bilingualism
to learn more about bilingualism

fred.genesee@mcgill.ca

references
REFERENCES

Cenoz, J., & Genesee, F., (1998). Beyond Bilingualism: Multilingualism and Multilingual Education. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Christian, D., & Genesee, F. (2001). Bilingual education. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Inc.

Cloud, N., Genesee, F., & Hamayan, E. (2000). ). Dual Language Instruction: A Handbook for Enriched Education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinle & Heinle.

Genesee, F. (2004). What do we know about bilingual education for majority language students. In T.K. Bhatia & W. Ritchie (Eds), Handbook of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, pp. 547-576. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Genesee, F., & Nicoladis, E. (2006). Bilingual acquisition. In E. Hoff & M. Shatz (eds.),

Handbook of Language Development, 324-342. Oxford, Eng.: Blackwell.

Genesee, F., Paradis, J., & Crago, M. (2004). Dual language development and disorders. Boston: Brookes.

Johnson, R.K., & Swain, M. (Eds., 1997), Immersion education: International perspectives. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press.

Lindholm-Leary, K., & Borsato, G. (2006). Academic achievement. In F. Genesee, K. Lindholm-Leary, W. Saunders, & D. Christian (Eds) Educating English language learners, pp. 176-222. NY: Cambridge University Press.

Lyster, R. (2007). Learning and teaching languages through content: A counterbalanced approach. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Met. M. (1998). Curriculum decision-making in content-based language teaching. In J. Cenoz

& F. Genesee (Eds), Beyond bilingualism: Multilingualism and multilingual education,

p. 35-63. Clevedon, Eng.: Multilingual Matters.