“We teach this way because it is the model we’ve adopted”: Asymmetries in language and literacy policies and implementation in Two Way Immersion Programs
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In the United States there has been widespread growth in Two Way Immersion (TWI) programs in all states, including those who have outlawed bilingual education. The model offers language majority students the opportunity to become bilingual alongside their language minority peers. Research has shown TWI programs to be the most equitable and effective for teaching both native English speakers and linguistically subjugated populations (Lindholm-Leary and Borsato 2001, Thomas and Collier 1997, 2002). A central goal is that all students become proficient in oral and written communication of two languages (Howard, Sugarman and Christian 2003).
In this mixed methods study of a TWI program in Texas, Official Discourse (Gee 1999) and policies reflected social justice and equitable language and literacy goals for students. However, there was marked incongruence between the interpretation and enactment of policies. There were asymmetrical language and literacy outcomes as the strict observance of programmatic goals constrained the English language and literacy development of Spanish-dominant students but did not constrain the Spanish language and literacy development of English-dominant peers. As a result, Spanish-dominant students and their families became disillusioned and questioned their participation in the TWI program. Findings suggest that educators must examine literacy ideologies in policies and practice and be reflexive in regards to the local implementation of policy, particularly in meeting the language and literacy needs of students from linguistically subjugated communities.