Immersion in Canada
By: Lisa Keiderling, Janine Pütz
Course: English in the United States and Canada
Tutor: Prof. Dr. Hickey
SS 06
Overview
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7.
Introduction
Definition of Immersion
History of Immersion Education
Suitability
Pros and Cons of Immersion
Public support for Immersion
Conclusion
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Introduction
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Certain services and communications have to
be available in English and French
Official Languages Act in 1969
Official languages in Canada are English and
French
Nunavut and Northwest Territories have
additional official languages (e.g. indigenous
tongues)
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Language Distribution
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Current linguistic situation in Canada
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30 million citizens of Canada
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67% native English speakers
26% native French speakers
7% native speakers of neither English nor French
English 17,352,315
French 6,703,325
Chinese 853,745
Italian 469,485
German 438,080
Punjabi 271,220
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Definition of Immersion
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Uses the second language as the teaching and
learning language
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Second language is also used in other classes
like mathematics, history, and geography
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Goals of Immersion
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Native-like listening, speaking, reading and
writing skills of a second language
To acquire same language skills in the native
language as in regular schools
To gain understanding and appreciation of the
other culture
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Total/Partial Immersion
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Total Immersion:
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Students are taught 100% in the foreign language
during the first grades
Partial Immersion:
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Students are taught half of the day in the foreign
language, the other half in their mother tongue
(alternating)
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Early Immersion
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Starts at an early age, usually Kindergarten or Grade
One
Students come from families with English as a First
Language
Often employs total immersion
Students are taught 100% of their classes for the first
3 or 4 grades in French
Pensum taught in French gradually decreases
Students can take part in non-immersion classes in
Junior and Senior High School
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Middle Immersion
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Starts in grade 3 or 4
Instruction language is the foreign language
for about two grades
After two grades native language is introduced
Use of native language increases gradually
In grade 5 or 6 Middle Immersion students
blend with Early Immersion students
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Late Immersion (I)
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Begins around entering Junior High
School (grade 6 or 7)
Is not as intensive as Early/Middle
Immersion and deemed as not as effective.
Completely fulfills the qualifications for
the acquirement of a bilingual status at the
end of the program concerning reading and
writing
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Late Immersion (II)
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Differs from Early Immersion in intensity,
because the students take only about 75% of
their classes in French
Classes such as Family Studies/ Technology
Education, and Physical Education, which are
taught in English are usually the courses that
make up the other 25%
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Often slight deficiencies in speaking French
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History of Immersion Education
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Impulse of Anglophone parents in Montreal
Theory by Wilder Penfield
“Experimental immersion kindergarten” in
1965 in St Lambert
Success was immense
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Suitability
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In order to evaluate the effectiveness of immersion
for all students, special needs students have been
examined
Problems of those students were:
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low level of academic ability
low level of native language ability
low socio-economic background
They usually show better results than comparable atrisk students, who have received conventional L2
education
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Pros and Cons of Immersion
 Supports bilingualism
 Helps the students in
becoming more eligible for
future jobs
 Helps to promote French
culture and makes it easier
for English-speaking
students to live in Frenchspeaking communities
 The idea of
bilingualism is
good, but it does
not necessarily
work with
immersion
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Pros and Cons of Immersion
 Results of immersion
 Fluency and
students in standardized
sophisticated literary
and non-standardized
creativity cannot be
English language
tested in those
proficiency tests taken
standardized tests
in higher classes were
equal or even better
than those of the
control groups
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Pros and Cons of Immersion
 Results of immersion  Experience with immersion
students in
graduates showed more
standardized and nonincidents of false starts,
standardized English
hesitation pauses, ‘uhs’,
language proficiency
and even some definitely
tests taken in higher
non-English use of words
classes were equal or  Hammerly: This spoken
even better than those
English is a problem →
of the control groups
necessity to address in
research
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Pros and Cons of Immersion
 Reading and listening
comprehension in
French tested with early
and late immersion
students in grade eight
are on native-like level
(early total immersion)
or only slightly worse
(early partial
immersion)
 Results of late
immersion students
were significantly lower
 Tests for reading and
listening comprehension
skills are multiple
choice tests and do not
explore all the linguistic
nuances to which native
French speakers are
sensitive
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Public support for Immersion
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Federal bilingualism policies are unnecessary and
excessive government regulation
In Quebec French-nationalists resent the bilingualism
policies
Support for bilingualism appears to be strongest in
the area known as the Bilingual belt
Groups such as the Alliance for the Preservation of
English in Canada, and books such as Bilingual
Today, French Tomorrow, have advocated the end of
official bilingualism
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Conclusion
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Highly recommended by many persons of
public life
Nevertheless criticized by high-donated
scientists
Immersion is a good idea which not always
works as intended
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References
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Hammerly, Hector. An Integrated Theory of Language
Teaching and its Practical Consequences. Blaine: Second
Language Publications: 1985
Hammerly, Hector. French Immersion: Myths and Reality.
Calgary:Detselig Enterprises Limited: 1989
Hammerly, Hector. Fluency and Accuracy. Clevedon:
Multilingual Matters LTD, 1991
Swain, Merrill and Sharon Lapkin. Evaluation Bilingual
Education: A Canadian Case Study. Clevedon: Short Run Press
LTD, 1985.
http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~z06gkd/Immersion.htm
http://sitemaker.umich.edu/356.hess
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilingualism_in_Canada
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