The Applicability of the Immersion Approach to College Foreign Language Instruction


  • Steven Sternfeld

    1. The University of Utah
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      Steven Sternfeld (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is Associate Professor of Languages at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.


ABSTRACT  The immersion approach to second language teaching differs from conventional skills-based instruction in that in immersion the target language is used primarily as a vehicle for teaching other subjects in the school curriculum. Extensive evaluation has shown that immersion students, when compared to students in traditional language courses, develop higher levels of language skills and more positive attitudes towards language study. While the results of the Canadian immersion program have already led to the creation of similar programs in over a dozen school districts in the United States, its impact on the design of college foreign language instruction has yet to be felt. This paper argues that the research on immersion and subject-matter teaching indicates this approach to be both a feasible and desirable alternative to traditional skills-based instruction for college foreign language programs.