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Two-Way Immersion Program

Pathway to Biliteracy

TWBI Pathway


  • Two-way immersion education has been in existence in the United States for nearly 40 years, but its growth in popularity is a more recent phenomenon. The number of schools participating in TWI programs has been on the rise for the past 15 years with over 300 schools nationwide and almost 200 in California. The majority of these programs are Spanish/English programs in public elementary schools. Moreover, this immersion program is modeled off of the Canadian French-English Immersion Model which has an even longer history.

Goals of Two-Way Immersion

  • Students Will Develop High Levels of Proficiency in Their First Language

    Students will develop high levels of proficiency in their first language. This goal means that native English speakers will develop high levels of listening, speaking, reading, and writing ability in English, and English language learners will develop these same abilities in their native language (e.g., Spanish). Neither group of students will have to forego development in the native language as second language proficiency improves.

  • All Students Will Develop High Levels of Proficiency in a Second Language

    Native English speakers will have the opportunity to develop high levels of oral and written proficiency in a second language. English language learners will have the opportunity to develop high levels of oral and written proficiency in English. The English language development of English language learners will not be diminished because they are also receiving instruction in their native language. Two-way immersion programs are called additive bilingual programs for both groups of students: they give all students the opportunity to maintain and develop oral and written skills in their first language while they simultaneously acquire oral and written skills in a second language.

  • Academic Performance for Both Groups of Students Will Be at or Above Grade Level

    Dual language programs maintain the same academic standards and curricula that are in place for other students in a school district. Academic requirements are not diluted for dual language students, and the same levels of academic performance are expected for them as for other students in the district. Evidence that this goal is attainable has been documented in empirical studies (Cazabon, Nicoladis, Lambert, 1998; Lindholm-Leary, 2001; Thomas Collier, 2002).

  • All Students Will Demonstrate Positive Cross-Cultural Attitudes and Behaviors

    Because TWI classrooms bring together students from different language, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, they allow students to learn first hand about cultures that are different from their own. Research has shown evidence of positive cross-cultural attitudes being developed through TWI programs (Cazabon, Lambert, Hall, 1993; Freeman, 1998).  Other studies point to the dominance of the English language and the native English speakers (Amrein Peña, 2000; Carrigo, 2000; McCollum, 1999) in the TWI classroom, suggesting that particular attention may need to be paid to this goal.

    Source: The Two-Way Immersion Toolkit

90/10 Model


Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy offers students the unique and exciting opportunity of learning to communicate in two languages, Spanish and English. Our goal is to educate students who are bilingual and bi-literate and enable them to meet the challenges of a global society. Students acquire the skills to read, write, speak, listen, and think in two languages.  The development of fluency and literacy in two languages requires several years of continuous participation in the immersion program. Enrollment occurs primarily at the kindergarten level.  In the Osborn School Two-Way Immersion Program, Spanish is used as the language of instruction throughout the primary grades.  English is introduced gradually into the curriculum. 

If you are interested in seeing this exciting program in action, you may visit our school on Immersion Visitation Days, 9:00 AM the first Tuesday of each school month.

Grades K-2

  • All subjects are taught in Spanish
  • Kindergarten—10% English instruction
  • First Grade—10% English instruction
  • Second Grade—20% English instruction

Grades 3-4

  • English language arts is formally introduced in third grade
  • Third grade—30% English instruction
  • Fourth grade—40% English instruction

Grades 5-6

  • Instructional time is evenly divided between English and Spanish
  • The two languages are used separately during different periods of instruction

Program Components

  • Duration of Program

    Program participants and their families are expected to make a minimum seven year commitment to the two way immersion program. This duration of enrollment ensures full development of both Spanish and English language skills. English speakers may enter at the Kindergarten or first grade levels. Spanish speakers may enter at kinder, first or second grade. Bilingual students may be admitted at any grade level depending on their level of literacy in Spanish and their oral English proficiency.

  • Language Separation

    Spanish and English instruction is kept separate, allowing a maximized concentration of both languages. Teachers do not use translation for comprehension. Instead, they use a multitude of second language acquisition techniques to make language and content understandable for all students.

    Teachers exchange classes with each other at the Kindergarten, first- and second-grade levels during the English portion of the day. This enables students to identify one particular teacher with Spanish and one with English.

  • Experiential Curriculum

    Teachers establish an environment where students must use the target language to meet real needs. This approach develops language skills through hands-on classroom experiences. Students more readily attach vocabulary to an activity in a hands-on or experiential setting.

  • Classroom Composition

    The most desirable student ratio in a two way immersion classroom is 50% English-speakers and 50% Spanish-speakers, but the program can operate successfully as long as neither language group falls below 35% of the classroom population.

    These ratios:

    • Maintain an environment of linguistic equity,
    • Facilitate cross-learning for both language groups,
    • Encourage social interaction among Spanish- and English-speakers,
    • Promote cultural understanding among all students.

Role of Parents & Staff

  • Staffing Information

    All Two-Way Bilingual Immersion instructors are credentialed bilingual teachers with native-like fluency in Spanish. Resource teachers and instructional aides also provide support.

    All teachers attend yearly bilingual and two-way immersion conferences specifically geared to assist second-language instructors. These conferences give our teachers the opportunity to learn about the latest research on brain development and second-language acquisition techniques. Teachers also have a chance to look at the most recent resources available for second-language learners.

  • Parent Participation

    Parent involvement is an integral part of any Two Way Immersion program because these programs are not only part of schools, they are also part of a bilingual community!

    Parents are encouraged to volunteer in the classroom and at the school. They also are encouraged to work with their children on language skills at home. Monthly newsletters let parents know what thematic units will be taught in their child’s class, and include tips on how parents can reinforce these themes at home. The homework is always a reinforcement of the material covered in class, and instructions are sent home in both languages.

    Meetings are held to help parents become knowledgeable about the second language acquisition process, and to teach them how to support a child’s second language abilities as they increase.