Two-way immersion students’ home languages, proficiency levels, and responses to form-focused instruction

Diane J. Tedick, Amy I. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Two-way immersion (TWI) programs in the U.S. integrate learners with different home languages and varied proficiencies in Spanish and English. Although both English home language (EHL) and Spanish home language (SHL) TWI students succeed academically in English, they often experience incomplete acquisition (Montrul 2011. “Morphological Errors in Spanish Second Language Learners and Heritage Speakers.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition 33: 163–192. doi:10.1017/S0272263110000720) or attrition of their Spanish proficiency (Potowski 2007. Language and Identity in a Dual Immersion School. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters). Underdeveloped Spanish proficiency may partly be due to teachers’ tendency to prioritize content instruction while neglecting language development. Studies in one-way immersion programs have revealed positive effects of form-focused instruction (FFI) on language development (e.g. Harley 1998. “The Role of Form-Focused tasks in Promoting Child L2 Acquisition.” In Focus on Form in Classroom Second Language Acquisition, edited by Catherine Doughty and Jessica Williams, 156–174. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Lyster 1994. “The Effect of Functional-Analytic Teaching on Aspects of French Immersion Students’ Sociolinguistic Competence.” Applied Linguistics 15: 263–287; 2004. “Differential Aspects of Prompts and Recasts in Form-Focused Instruction.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition 26: 399–432. doi:10.1017/S0272263104263021). However, the diversity among TWI students regarding their proficiency in Spanish may render FFI challenging when some students produce accurate forms intuitively while others struggle with grammatical accuracy. Guided by sociocognitive theory (Batstone 2010. “Issues and Options in Sociocognition.” In Sociocognitive Perspectives on Language Use and Language Learning, edited by Rob Batstone, 3–23. Oxford: Oxford University Press), this qualitative study investigated how SHL and EHL Grade 5 TWI students responded to FFI on past tense/aspects. Discourse analysis of transcripts from classroom observations was conducted to examine student responses in relation to teacher input and FFI activities. Findings suggest an important relationship between the diversity among TWI students in terms of their Spanish proficiency and responses to FFI, and offer pedagogical implications for classrooms that integrate content and language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-318
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Dual language education
  • Spanish
  • bilingual education
  • focus on form (FonF)
  • language proficiency


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