Benefits of the two-way immersion program into language environment in the conditions of trilingual education of Kazakhstan

Authors considered one of the relevant methods of training of foreign languages — the program of two-way immersion into language environment. In the article theoretical aspects of the two-way immersion program into language environment are considered, in particular determination of the essence of the concept and crite- rions of success of implementation of this program in the educational sphere. This analysis allowed authors to define advantages of the usage of the two-way immersion program into language environment, its focus on development of children's language competences, improvement of quality of knowledge of the second language in addition to the first or native language; formation of the secondary language personality, capable to carry out successful social interaction with other culture. Finally, authors make a conclusion that this program is effective in the field of foreign-language education and can be successfully realized in the system of trilingual education of Kazakhstan.

Language policy in Kazakhstan is the way of state integration into the world society. This feature is associated with the implementation of the idea of «Trinity of languages» (2007), when the President in the message to the nation of Kazakhstan «New Kazakhstan in the new world» proposed to start multistage plan of implementation of this cultural project [1].

The main purpose of trilingual education is to create needful conditions for the simultaneous acquisition of three target languages in accordance with international standards, namely, Kazakh, Russian and English languages: Kazakh as a state language, the possession of which contributes to the successful civil integration; Russian as a language that is used officially on a par with Kazakh language; English as a mean of integration into the world economy.

Handling of language learning requires taking into account the line between the public interest, taking active measures and creating the necessary conditions from legislative and executive branches, as well as the opportunities, desires and interests of all country's residents. The vast majority of population of Kazakhstan realizes the need of knowing both Kazakh, Russian, English and other foreign languages [2].

Subsequently, a good command of a foreign language will have an impact on the level of General education, economy, culture, reputation and prestige of the state, ultimately, high competitiveness in the global labor market.

Currently, in the conditions of polylinguistic education, there are the main methods and principles of teaching target languages are defined. The most effective is the principle of two-way immersion, i.e. language in the educational process acts as a mean of learning and as a subject of study. Language acts as a mechanism of integration of linguistic subjects with other subjects, so the primary school subjects «Kazakhlanguage and Kazakh literature» and «History of Kazakhstan» is planned to study in Kazakh language, subjects «Russian language and Russian literature» and «World history» — in Russian. The study of subjects «Informatics», «Physics», «Chemistry», «Biology» in high school, according to the Road map of trilingual education in 2015–2020, is in English [3].

The above-mentioned lead to the tendency of strengthening English language position. Children, starting from preschool age and throughout the period of schooling are involved in the process of foreign language education. This requires the development of new methods, language training programs. In our opinion, the program of double immersion in the language environment (two-way immersion) is one of the actual methods of language teaching practiced in the world.

The program of two-way immersion in the language environment as a method of language teaching is the most effective in achieving the goal of trilingual education, in particular studying English language, namely the formation of a secondary language personality with a sense of respect and understanding other cultures, able to live in peace and harmony with people of different nationalities.

Thus, the increasing relevance of the use of two-way immersion program in the Kazakh education requires a detailed consideration of this issue, the definition of the concept, as well as the criteria for the success of program in the educational sphere.

Language immersion is a method of teaching a second language (not necessarily a «foreign language» for students, it is also a language that is one of the official in the country), in which the teacher gives instructions on the pupils' second language. According to this method, children learn 2 or more languages at once. The main purpose of this method is to maintain bilingualism, in other words, to develop children's language competence or to improve the quality of knowledge of the second language in addition to knowledge of the first or native language. In addition, the development of intellectual abilities is also considered to be a phenomenon of bilingualism.

The first modern language immersion programs appeared in the 1960s in Canada, whose main aim was to improve the quality of French language.

The use of language immersion and studying culture attracted the attention of many scientists (H.H. Anderson, C.N. Rhodes, D.A. Mathers-Gasparian, T.W. Fortune and D.J. Tedick, M. Bostwick, T.H. Korppi, F. Genessee, M. Swain, J. Cummins, M. Byram, C. Morgan). Almost all studies were conducted in the US, Canada, and Western Europe. However, there are still certain contradictions with the views of researchers, the practical use of the immersion method in the process of teaching of foreign language and culture is often unsystematic, without a carefully developed theoretical basis.

However, many scientists interpret the concept of a method of immersion, as well as its application in practice. For example, Fred Genessi, a world figure in the field of language immersion, in his work «Learning through two languages: studies of immersion and bilingual education» gives the following definition «the program is considered to be immersion is necessary that at least 50 percent of the instructions were given in a second language» [4].

As it stated above, this method of language immersion into environment has its roots since the early 1960s, in the city of Quebec (Canada), where an experimental garden for English-speaking children was created. The aim of the program was to achieve a high level of proficiency in both French and English, where the French language strengthened its rights in the political and economic fields.

Based to the Canadian model, the modern educational system classifies language immersion programs into several types of language immersion: Total immersion: almost 100 % of the academic hours during three or four years take place on the foreign language. The studied language is used in almost all academic explanations. Full immersion is the most common method of teaching. In case of a full immersion, the percentage of native and foreign languages is 90/10. Partial immersion: about half of the classes are taught in a second language. The percentage of partial immersion is 50/50. In partial immersion programs, the group consists mainly of students who can't speak on the foreign language or speak partially. Mainly students encounter with the language instruction at school. Bilingual, double or bilingual immersion (two-way immersion): half of students' group consists of native speakers, the rest are native speakers of another language. Teaching is conducted alternately in two languages.

A distinctive feature of two way immersions is the equal number of native and target language speakers. Each language is used approximately 50 % of the time. The advantage of bilateral programs is that both groups of students have the opportunity to communicate with peers – native speakers of the language [5].

A key goals, objectives, and advantages of the program of bilateral immersion (two-way immersion) deals many scientists, teachers. However, the full definition of this concept was given by foreign scientists Christian, Howard, & Loeb; Genesee; Lindholm-Leary.

Thus, according to Kathryn Lindholm-Leary, one of the founders of the program, believes that the goals of such training are to teach and educate relatively balanced bilinguals and achieve bilingual literacy, which is acquired consistently (sometimes simultaneously) in both languages [6]. There are 8 criteria of the successful realization of program into language sphere.

Table The criteria of successful realization of two-way immersion program into educational sphere




Programs should provide a minimum of 4 to 6 years of bilingual instruction to participating students


The focus of instruction should be the same core academic curriculum that students in other programs experience


Optimal language input (input that is comprehensible, interesting, and of sufficient quantity) as well as opportunities for output should be provided to students, including quality language arts instruction in both languages


The target (non-English) language should be used for instruction a minimum of 50 % of the time (to a maximum of 90 % in the early grades), and English should be used at least 10 % of the time


The program should provide an additive bilingual environment where all students have the opportunity to learn a second language while continuing to develop their native language proficiency


Classrooms should include a balance of students from the target language and English backgrounds who participate in instructional activities together


Positive interactions among students should be facilitated by the use of strategies such as cooperative learning


Characteristics of effective schools should be incorporated into programs, such as qualified personnel and home-school collaboration

F. Genesee, in his work «Dual-language Instruction: A Hand book for Enriched Education» and Calderуn & Minaya-Rowe «Designing and Implementing two-way programs: A Step-by-step Guide for Administrators, Teachers and Parents» indicate the main problems of the bilateral immersion programs, tasks, planning further development of the assessment system, as well as planning lessons for the implementation of this program in the educational process [7].

This program has two types of double immersion. In percentage terms, these two types look like: 90/10 and 50/50. Studies have shown that in the study of English by Spanish-speaking students in the 90/10 program, the results are lower than in the study of English by the same students in the 50/50 program. It should be noted that such differences are observed only at the initial stage of training. There are no such differences at the high primary level or in the second year of the second language. Conversely, Englishspeaking students in the 90/10 program have higher learning outcomes than those in the 50/50 program. Such results are recorded at all stages of training.

Analyzing and summarizing the above mentioned authors' definitions, we came to the conclusion that this program (two-way immersion) is an educational approach, which includes coalescence of students from two different language groups and simultaneous teaching two languages and other subjects in these languages.

The main three criteria of the definition of a two-way program are: first, the program includes the same number of students in two groups; second, these groups are combined into a single group according to the majors and the third, this program involves the study of majors in two languages.

Despite the advantages of this program in the system of foreign language education, its implementation causes teachers a number of difficulties of pedagogical and organizational nature.

Firstly, teachers have to understand the purpose of the program and satisfy that goal. In addition to the philosophy of the program, which is based on the belief that students must learn two languages and become multilingual and multicultural, the main role plays subject knowledge. The future teacher should have a wide range of teaching methods and strategies.

Secondly, the teachers of the two-way immersion programs emphasize the importance of knowledge of cultures and languages, i.e. future teachers should have basic knowledge of the second language and its culture.

And thirdly, teachers of this program should have the ability to work with parents of different groups. However, working with a parent can create a number of difficulties with realization of this program.

It is noteworthy that teachers help students to learn languages through these languages themselves. Immersion into language environment allows students to understand importance of languages. The difficulty of teaching is the rational use of two languages in the classroom, as well as the use of the translation method, which disturb the natural flow of the teacher's speech. However, this method, translation method, it is possible to use in oral and writing translation and interpretation in high school. Thus, for example, as part of the international education Program in secondary schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts conducted lessons of medical and legal translation, thereby preparing students to future employment in areas where you need knowledge of two languages [8].

The main work of teacher, who works with two-way immersion program, it is necessary to conduct the lesson the available level but at the same time try not to make the learning process too easy for native speakers. They should develop two lesson plans: first, the teacher draws up a lesson plan for the host student, and then reviews and makes adjustments. Thus, it is taken into consideration the knowledge and experience of the students of the two groups, the necessary materials changed radically for lessons' usage, creation of necessary teaching methods for non-native language students, as well as tools for evaluating learning.

The next main problem of the two-way program is the use of the necessary teaching methods, as well as the ability of orientate in them. As you know, there are many methods of language skills development. Among them, the most effective methods are full physical response techniques, memorizing texts, simulations, interviews, group projects, etc.

For example, in the 50/50 school programs of the year of Schaumburg, Illinois, the method of full physical response is used mainly in primary school, because it allows students to develop receptive language skills. Also, the use of the method based on experience is effective at the initial stage, since it contributes to the acquisition of language skills by students in the process of completing tasks [9].

Teachers have to master all techniques and choose a method, depending on the goals. However, teachers apply all these approaches and techniques, changing them so increase student. Planning lessons, it is necessary to set not only the subject purposes, but also language purposes. However, the goals for native and non-native speakers may differ because the levels of language proficiency may differ.

The main advantages of the program in the educational sphere of Kazakhstan include:

  •  full immersion in the language environment of the target language, thereby mastery English language at a high level, without compromising the knowledge of the native language;
  •  the possibility of improving vocabulary, namely idioms, expressions, which are used by native speakers;
  •  the need for communication in a non-native language significantly increases the pace of speech. The main difficulty in studying any language is the language barrier. It disappears with fully immersion into language;
  •  as well as the formation of individuals' intercultural competence, i.e. interaction with people belonging to different cultures.

Having regard to the above said, it can be concluded that the program of two-way immersion, as a method of teaching languages, is effective in the field of foreign language education, and can be successfully implemented in the system of trilingual education.



  1. Poslanie Prezidenta RK N.A. Nazarbaeva narodu Kazahstana «Novyi Kazakhstan v novom mire» 28.02.2007 h. [Message of the President of Republic of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbayeva «New Kazakhstan in the new world»]. Retrieved from kazahstana-28-fevralya-2007-g [in Russian].
  2. Zhetpisbaeva, B.A., & Kubeeva, A.E. (2017). K voprosu o metodicheskom obespechenii trekhiazychnoho obrazovaniia [On the issue of methodological support of trilingual education]. Vestnik Karahandinskoho universiteta – Bulletin of the Karaganda University, Vol. 2(86), 138–145 [in Russian].
  3. Dorozhnaia karta razvitiia trekhiazychnoho obrazovoniia na 2015–2020 hody [The road map of trilingual education of Kazakhstan on 2015–2020]. Retrieved from;-41 [in Russian].
  4. Genessee, F. (1987). Learning through two languages: studies of immersion and bilingual education. Cambridge, Mass.: Newbury House Publishers.
  5. Two-way immersion education: the basics. Retrieved from
  6. Lindholm-Leary, Kathryn. (2001). Dual language education. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/USER/Downloads /LindholmLeary2015_TWIDL_ThenAndNow.pdf.
  7. Espino Calderon, Margarita & Minaya-Rowe, Liliana. (2003). Designing and Implementing Two-way Bilingual Programs: A Step-by-step Guide for Administrators, Teachers and Parents. USA: Corwin press.
  8. Ofitsialnyi sait Amerikanskoho tsentra prikladnoi linhvistiki [Official page of center of applied linguistics]. Retrieved from [in Russian].
  9. Prohramma dvustoronneho pohruzheniia — praktika [Two-way immersion — practice]. Retrieved from [in Russian].
Year: 2019
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy