A dual language immersion program has goals of full bilingualism and biliteracy in English and a target (non-English) language. The program enrolls native English speakers and native speakers of the target language. For the program to be considered a dual (or two-way) immersion program, a minimum of 33% of each linguistic group would have to be represented in each classroom. If there is less than 33% of one of the linguistic groups, the program would be considered to be a one-way immersion program. In both dual and one-way immersion programs, the two groups of students are integrated for all or most of the instruction. The instruction is given in one language; the teacher does not switch between languages during lessons.
Dual language immersion programs provide instruction in language arts, math, and other academic content areas (such as science, social studies, arts, etc.) over the course of the program. The target language is used for at least 50% and up to 90% of the instructional time and English is used a minimum of 10% and up to 50% of the instructional time in kindergarten through fifth grade (K-5). In programs that are 50% in English and 50% in the target language in grades K-5, the subjects taught in each language are typically consistent throughout the grade levels. In programs that start out with greater than 50% of the time in the target language (such as 90% in the target language and 10% in English) and decrease the amount of target language instruction in each subsequent grade level until instruction is 50% in the target language and in English, subjects that are initially taught in the target language may shift to being taught in English as the percentage of time in English instruction increases. Secondary (grades 6-12) programs offer up to three classes per semester in the target language.
School districts throughout California and the United States offer dual language immersion programs in many languages, including Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Armenian, German, French, and Vietnamese. Dual language immersion programs strive to promote bilingualism, biliteracy, grade-level academic achievement, and positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors for all students.