The Voices Left Behind: The Impacts of Dual Immersion in Bilingual Education

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Following the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, there has been an ongoing conversation on the relationship between language and educational opportunity. The Bilingual Education Act of 1968, in the interest of equal educational opportunity, funded bilingual programs with the aim to provide a specialized space in education for students to learn English, reinforce cultural pride, and instill in students the social and linguistic skills to obtain an education equal to that of their English speaking peers. In examining this, some have concluded Bilingual Education to be a step towards inclusion for the Latino community. Others have perceived it as only a bandage for the concrete social and economic problems facing the Latino population. While past studies have proposed theoretical models of teaching bilingual education, and questioned the systematic pretenses of the Bilingual Education Act, little is understood of its development and implementation in classrooms. Today, Bilingual Education has effectively been replaced by Dual Immersion, or two-way language immersion programs, that aim to foster biliteracy and bilingualism. This shift raises new questions of minority accessibility, representation, and the future of bilingual programs. Who does Dual Immersion serve? What do teachers and administrators think about Dual Immersion, and its goals today? To what extent have Bilingual Education’s promises of cultural revitalization been carried into the new immersion programs? What impact does the shift from Bilingual Education to Dual Immersion have on students? The study follows a singular Spanish Dual Immersion fourth grade classroom and its school site in Montebello, California. Following classroom observations and staff interviews, results demonstrated that the original purpose of Bilingual Education has changed to a newfound desire for bilingualism and biliteracy from monolinguistic families as a chance for educational advancement. Findings showed that students who are in need of English-language development are being left behind in the shift from Bilingual Education to Dual Immersion, and services that aid a student in learning English are being phased out as the preference for Dual Immersion increases dramatically. Discussion focuses on the implications of the results and findings.


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