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ABSTRACT  There is ample evidence from research in Canada and the United States that second language immersion programs are effective for English-speaking children with average or above average ability from middle class, majority group backgrounds. The present review examines the suitability of immersion for English-speaking children who are at risk in school because they have the following learner characteristics: 1) below average general ability, 2) poor first language ability, 3) low socioeconomic status, and 4) ethnic minority group status. A fifth factor is examined, namely age, because of the assumed difficulty experienced by older learners in acquiring a second or foreign language. Indices of first language development, academic achievement and second language acquisition are examined. The evidence indicates that such children benefit from participation in immersion without loss to their first language development or academic achievement.