A European perspective on immersion teaching: The German scenario

It has become almost a truism that the recent political, economic, and cultural developments in Europe require drastic improvements in the teaching of foreign languages. The number of languages learned by each student needs to be increased and the achievement level reached for each language needs to be raised. There is also wide-spread agreement not only among specialists that the various national education systems need to be amended if they are to meet these new challenges. The question is how this can be accomplished. One solution recently adopted in many parts of Europe, is to experiment with immersion (IM) teaching.
However, it is also a truism, especially in matters of education, that a given approach that works well in some area need not neccessarily work equally well elsewhere. This also holds for IM. It is, therefore, an important task for current research to determine how IM can be adapted to meet the particular local, regional or national contingencies.
This paper has two major goals. One is to use the present situation in Germany to develop a specifically European perspective for IM teaching. The key issue here is to determine how little IM may be needed per language so that there is enough time to have additional languages, including majority and minority languages, also benefit from IM. The second goal is to summarize ongoing research on a late partial IM program launched in 1991 in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, because this IM program allows for insights as to how little IM may be necessary to improve results beyond what can be achieved via language-as-subject teaching (LAS).

In: J.Arnau & J.M. Artigal (Hg.), Els Programes d'immersió: una Perspectiva Europea - Immersion programmes: a European perspective. Barcelona: Edicions Universitat de Barcelona, 43-65, 1998.