The Power of Immersion Across All Languages

The Power of Immersion Across All Languages

How Middlebury Interactive is paving the way in ELL education with innovative K-12 programs

June 7, 2014

Did you know that Middlebury Interactive teaches seven different languages to K-12 students?  Between our summer language academies and our online language courses, we offer Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Latin, Spanish and English. Yes, that’s right, English. 

In the summer of 2013, Middlebury Interactive partnered with the Lynn Public School district in Massachusetts to design and deliver a summer immersion program for English Language Learners (ELLs). That program will expand to two additional school districts this coming summer, and we have an exciting new initiative to build online supplemental courses for ELL students in Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut for this coming year. 

Why is Middlebury Interactive expanding into ELL, and what does this expansion look like? First and foremost, the underlying pedagogy that our world language courses are built on represents the best in second language acquisition theory; that approach can be applied to any second language including English. Additionally, we believe that our courses can have a positive impact on the academic success of ELL students. Beyond those critical issues, there is also a compelling business case to delve into this sector of the K-12 market.  

Did you know:

  • There are five million ELL students enrolled in U.S. public schools
  • By 2025, ELLs are expected to account for 25% of U.S. K-12 population
  • 75-80% of ELLs are native Spanish speakers
  • ELLs consistently underperform their non-ELL peers
  • There is approximately $1.2B in federal funding for ELLs, and funding typically follows the student to the district and the state according to the number of students attending.

In addition to all of these important facts, there is not a true comprehensive solution currently available to schools and ELL students—a niche that Middlebury Interactive can fill.

In the Hartford Public School district, we are building an innovative new program to transform the way the district supports its English Language Learners and to help more students prepare for college and career success. The program will start as a pilot and include components of digital courses, teacher professional development and summer language immersion academies. By taking a new approach to ELL education that embraces new technologies, cultural awareness and proven immersion language instruction, this program can become a national model for how to integrate ELL students into the school system, empowering students and preparing them for a success future.

The first phase of the Hartford program begins in the 2014-2015 school year and will reach  1,000 ELL students in grades four through eight. Over the next several months, our team will be working with district staff to design and build blended learning curriculum modules specific to the needs of ELL students at those grade levels. The program will expand to reach more students of different English proficiency levels in the 2015-2016 school year.

Through this new partnership, we will also provide professional development training on the use of new technologies and immersion learning practices. Program evaluation, technical support and efficacy review will also be provided.

Following the regular school year, the Hartford district will operate an ELL summer immersion academy. This academy will be modeled after summer ELL academies for the Lynn School District that received high praise from students, educators and parents alike last summer. In addition to boosting the English skills of a diverse group of non-native English speakers, students learned about the culture of the greater Boston area and experienced learning and staying at an area college.

Middlebury Interactive is excited to be partnering with Hartford and Lynn to bring high quality language acquisition content to ELL students to give these students the tools to be successful in high school and beyond.

Are you an ELL educator or student? Let us know your experiences in this emerging field in the comments below. 

Jamie Northrup
Jamie Northrup has nearly a decade of experience in marketing, government relations and strategic collaboration in higher education and world language learning. At Middlebury Interactive, Jamie oversees all government relations and institutional partnerships. Jamie also served as Director of Institutional Collaboration and Marketing at the Middlebury College Language Schools. While at the Language Schools, he helped launch Middlebury Interactive and became one of the first employees of the new joint venture between Middlebury College and K12, Inc. A Vermont native, Jamie graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and earned a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University.
New Approach Needed for English Language Learners New Model for English Language Learners Needed in U.S. Schools But, Everyone Speaks English! The Power of Immersion Across All Languages