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Bilingual & Immersion Education


Bilingual Education is a method of teaching that aims to assist learners to become Bilingual.  It involves learning opportunities in two languages, usually through First language empowerment.

It means:

  • Valuing a child’s FIRST Language as this language sets a strong platform for learning
  • Assisting students to learn and understand the second language through their knowledge of the first language.
  • Ensuring students have strong knowledge and use of two languages for higher:
  • Understanding

  • Educational achievement

  • Social advantage

A bilingual programme at Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary or Tertiary institutions will promote full bilingualism either by using predominantly a minority group language by immersion teaching or by using two languages by the dual medium approach.  The younger the child the more successful they will be in accomplishing bilingualism / biliteracy.  If the programme is well implemented and not separated, it may take a period of 5 to 6 years to achieve in both target languages.


Immersion Education is a method of teaching that aims to assist learners to become bilingual by concentrated learning of their Heritage Language as a vehicle of instruction.  (e.g. Maori Immersion).

It means:

  • Valuing the child’s Heritage Language and strengthening it to set a strong platform for learning the second language.


Research shows clearly that if parents speak different languages it is still possible for children to become bilingual.
Each parent simply speaks their own language to the child and if necessary, a third language to each other.
Initially the children will mix the words now and again but after approximately three years of age will have that sorted.
We need to understand that children who grow up bilingually will usually take longer to learn to talk, read and write, but will catch up with the others by ages 8 – 10.  Because they are learning to speak, read and write in two or more languages, this takes time.

Research is very clear that bilingualism does work.  However it takes 6 – 8 years to deliver outcomes needed to reach grade age norms and 13 years for intergenerational language transfer.