There are many designs of immersion programs but among them, two-way immersion (TWI), Canadian immersion and European school are the most popular ones. The most popular means the most effective in suggested contexts. In the Kazakhstani context, we have good conditions for raising bilinguals as Kazakh and Russian are two dominant languages in the society and immersion programs would get support not only in the school environment but out of school as well.
What is the difference between these immersion programs? They vary according to the class structure and time of languages teaching. The main feature of two-way immersion program is the almost equal representation of native speakers of two languages within one classroom. In this case, students of different languages spend almost all day together, get instructions in these languages, and develop both their academic literacy and cross-cultural competence (Howard, Sugarman, & Christian, 2003). In this case, we control the number of languages speakers to get the right ratio.
Time of languages teaching is also represented by two configurations. According to De Jong (2011), immersion programs vary according to the time when the second language is added (early or late immersion), and the quantity of time for each language within a school program (full or partial immersion). TWI program refers to 50:50 model of additive bilingualism. The proportion describes the amount of time given for each of languages of instruction within the studying process. Another model, 90:10 refers to Canadian immersion program, where 90% of instruction in K-1 is in the second language with gradual decrease throughout their studying year by year.
European school model implies not only the development of the bilingual and bicultural individual but also is aimed at the formation of the European identity. It can be demonstrated on the example of Luxemburgish education. The primary education is provided in Luxembourgish, after that during four years such languages as German, French and one foreign language are introduced first as subjects and then as languages of instruction.
Consequently, an additive bilingual model can be of different types depending on the amount of time distributed for each language in a classroom and the goal a particular school is trying to achieve. Taking into consideration language situation in Kazakhstan, it is interesting why the potential of two-way immersion programs with 50:50 languages distribution was not utilized. The main reason why this program could be successful is the human capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Russian and Kazakh languages prevail in all domains of the country. They are used on a daily basis. Especially in the central region, where the distribution of Russian and Kazakh speakers is relatively balanced the classroom organization with 50% of native Kazakh speakers and 50% of native Russian speakers would not make a problem. However, not only linguistic human capital is important, but also teacher’s training, appropriate funding, and curriculum overhaul. The school authorities could decide for themselves what type of bilingual model is more applicable to their case, what teaching resources they have and if there are enough materials for introducing this model. Last but not least, the approbation of the bilingual programs would give much experience and provide some solutions to a substantial amount of problems we are facing with the implementation of trilingual education.
De Jong, E. J. (2011). Foundations for multilingualism in education: From principles to practice. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon Publishing.
Howard, E. R., Sugarman, J., Christian, D. (2003). Trends in two-way immersion education: A review of the research. Report 63. Baltimore: Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk.