Dual-language Immersion Project


Jolie Straus








1st year PhD Student


Dr. Nicole Mancevice



This qualitative study seeks to explore the contexts in which bilingual children engage in code switching between Spanish and English within a dual language immersion program at an elementary school in Los Angeles. Interviews will be conducted to highlight the methods with which the teachers foster bilingualism within various classroom settings. Classroom observations of the students will be conducted to explore the use of code switching. The study aims to examine a dual language immersion program in fostering the development of children’s native language, as well as, their second language. Guided by social cultural theory, this study will expand on preexisting research within bilingualism to support a strengths-based perspective for dual language learners. Given that the current perception of bilingualism is rooted in a deficit-based approach, this study advocates for both the child’s native and second languages, the utilization of code switching, and exploring which classroom settings foster the development of bilingualism.


Therefore, the purpose of this study is to contribute to the preexisting research by examining under which circumstances (e.g., during small group activities, outside of the hearing range of the teacher, during presentations, when helping other students) during classroom teaching and learning contexts, that children make use of code switching. By doing so, this study seeks to challenge the deficit-based approach that previous notions of code switching have held onto, and alternatively, focus on the strengths-based perspective for dual language learners. In particular, this study will focus on exploring the use of code switching among children who speak Spanish and English, with the goal of examining the contexts that foster bilingualism and when children engage in code switching.


The goals of this study are to explore the contexts in which young students engage in English and Spanish in a dual language immersion classroom. Another aim of this study is to foster a strengths-based approach in supporting a student's native language, as well as, a second language through the settings that support the development of bilingualism.


The benefits of this study include shifting towards a strengths-based approach, while further advocating for dual language immersion programs. Additionally, the researcher will share the findings of the qualitative study with the school with information that is accessible and digestible for teachers, parents/caregivers, and their students. The exploratory study will help further the development of the student's native and second languages.


There will be no publication or presentation-related work from this research. This study is for the purposes of a class assignment.




Inclusion criteria are students enrolled in the dual language immersion program who speak both Spanish and English. Students who are in the Primary dual-language immersion program (ages 6-8) will be included. The researcher will observe four students (n-4) working with one another in pairs (dyads) during classroom observations, either two girls or two boys dyads.
Inclusion criteria for the teachers include lead teachers (n=2) who teach in the dual-language immersion program Primary classroom.
Exclusion criteria are children who cannot communicate verbally in English or Spanish, or children who have not given their consent to the study.


Within the classroom observations, the research will explore the use of code switching through student dyad interactions in three settings: unstructured, semi-structured, and structured activities. Additionally, the researcher will conduct 2 interviews (45 minutes in length), one with the lead teacher and one with the support staff inquiring about the bilingual curriculum in the dual-language immersion classroom, as well as, exploring the teacher’s perceptions of in which contexts their students engage in code switching. Given parental and teacher consent and approval, the observations and interviews will be audio recorded for transcriptions purposes and data analysis.


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Interviews and Observations


Audio recording device may be used during interviews and classroom observations given teacher and parental consent.

Interviews: The interviewer will ask questions that create discussion around the interviewee’s experience teaching in an immersion classroom. One semi-structured interview will be conducted with a lead teacher and a support staff teacher. The focus of the interviews will be to explore the ways in which teachers foster bilingualism within their immersion classrooms through their curriculum and teaching style. Further, the interview will hone in on which specific settings that the teachers notice their students engaging in code switching between Spanish and English.

Observations: Additionally, the researcher will conduct classroom observations to gain an understanding about the classroom settings in which the bilingual children learn, grow, and develop. The research study will focus on three specific settings in which the students interact and engage in code switching: 1) a structured setting (e.g., group activity such as a class assignment, where students can collaborate with one another), 2) a semi-structured activity (e.g., drawing activity with minimal instruction from the teacher), and 3) an unstructured activity (e.g., snack or free play such as recess). The researcher will document the use of code switching throughout the frequency with which it occurs, the response which elicited the use of code switching, and the calculation of the words used. Depending on the audio recordings, the researcher may decide to count the turns taken by each observed dyad pair to further examine when children code switch throughout social interactions. Within these classroom observations, the researcher will observe two female student dyads in each of these settings, and two male student dyads interacting in these settings. By controlling the interaction with two children of the same gender, the researcher hopes to account for gender as a potential confounding variable.


Please see above.


Yes. I have created an informed consent form. Please see the attachments listed under the Attachments section.


There is minimal risk associated with this study.


The researcher will either introduce herself to the classroom or have the classroom teacher introduce the researcher before beginning observations. Also, the researcher will share the findings with the teachers and the school at the end of the quarter.


All data will be anonymized through the use of pseudonyms and permanently deleted at the end of the quarter.



I had worked with students in both of Ms. Elena Perez's classrooms during a previous project and really enjoyed working with her and her students. Would it be possible to work with her classrooms again?


Teacher and parental consent will be required for both the classroom observation, as well as, the teacher interviews. Given consent and approval from the teachers and the parents, I would like to audio record the classroom observations and the interview sessions.


Sandra Smith


Dual-language immersion program; Bilingualism; Second language acquisition










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