Iowa's K-12 System: Achieving Social Justice Through Immersion Programs - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1219 Words
Date:  2023-02-24


In the twenty-first century, learning institutions have realized the need for social justice to dismantle systems of oppression and enhance inclusivity in education. The state of Iowa has rich diversity made up of whites, people of color, and Hispanics. The state's department of education acknowledged the diverse needs of various students, which led to its introduction of immersion programs in the K-12 system. The immersion programs strive for a 50/50 dual language instruction model and a minimum 60/40 L1 to L2 ratio ("Dual language programs, "2019). Since Iowa State has a majority-minority population, schools have adopted the use of immersion programs, where native-English learners and ESL students share a 50/50 classroom instruction model to promote biliteracy, bilingualism, academic achievement, and biculturalism.

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Hispanics are the majority-minority population in the state of Iowa, making the English-Spanish immersion program popular in the state. In this case, Spanish and English native learners share the same classrooms, where the instructions are offered in Spanish and English ("Dual language programs, "2019). The program aims at a 50/50 ratio where half of the students are Spanish native speakers and the half comprise of English native speakers to promote equality and bilingualism. Students engage in the Spanish emersion programs from preschool, which enables them to start speaking both English and Spanish by kindergarten. For instance, the West Des Moines Community Schools believe that every student goes to school with a unique set of skills and experiences, which can be shared with others to promote social, educational, and cultural classroom environments ("Dual language programs, "2019). The Spanish immersion program allows students to spend half of their day learning content via English and the other half through Spanish ("Dual language programs, "2019). The situation has improved the state's cohesion and social justice by taking into consideration the needs of the vast Spanish speakers.

The demand for the Spanish immersion program is high in Iowa states due to an influx of people moving into the region to leverage the opportunity. As a result, most schools have chosen to collaborate with former students and Spain to meet the teaching demand. Notably, immersion programs require bilingual speakers, who are difficult to find, since demand supersedes supply in the state. Collaboration with Spain allows most schools to source their teachers to teach for about 2 years ("Dual language programs, "2019). Despite the recruitment being expensive, it contributes to achievement of anticipated goals significantly. Moreover, alongside recruiting tutors from Spain, some schools employ their former students who have obtained the bilingual licensure ("Dual language programs, "2019). The graduate students have a strong background in built-in-familiarity and language instructions making them suitable candidates for the job.

Mandarin immersion programs are also gaining root in Iowa State to cater to the needs of the growing Chinese population in North America. However, unlike the Spanish immersion program, the mandarin is mostly a one-way dual language system. In this case, almost all the learners are Asian who are instructed in both English and Mandarin native languages (Ruan, Zhang, & Leung, 2015). According to Ruan et al.,(2015), about four percent of immersion programs in the country are mandarin programs. The increase in these programs has been encouraged by the "Chinese language fever" since 1990 and the growth of the Chinese economy. Iowa's state policies concerning foreign language learning have positive impact on development of the Mandarin immersion program in the region (Ruan et al., 2015). Additionally, aid from the Chinese government and bodies such as the Chinese Language Association of Secondary- Elementary Schools (CLASS) facilitates various schools in the state to acquire resources and support necessary to enhance dual language learning (Ruan et al., 2015). Chinese immersion programs are more popular in kindergarten to fifth grade. The programs have been more effective in enhancing acquisition of foreign language skills as opposed to traditional foreign language classes.

On the other hand, Chinese immersion programs face many challenges such as lack of bilingual teachers. Given the linguistic complexity and the time one requires to be fluent in the Chinese language, the state has had a shortage of competent teachers (Ruan et al., 2015). The situation has led to the state modifying its licensure requirements and collaborating with different institutions to help it satisfy the demand.

German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and French immersion programs have also gained momentum in the state of Iowa, especially in the K-12 system. French and German-speaking persons form a significant portion of the minority individuals in the state. Different schools offer the programs as either one-way or two-way dual-language programs. Family ideologies and commitment to multiculturalism contributes to the increasing number of parents sending their children to these programs.

Benefits of Language Immersion to Iowa Residents

Immersion programs in the state of Iowa have had a significant impact on its diversity alongside enhancing academic excellence. In a community with an extensive number of English Language Learners and ESL, implementation of immersion programs was the best idea the Iowa department of education implemented to aid the minority access education. The Hispanics are the majority-minority group in the state, which has made Spanish dual language the most popular. The program has facilitated the number of Latinos advancing to college and university education today as opposed to the last two decades ("Dual language programs, "2019). The phenomenon aids in elimination of social disparities that have affected the Hispanics, who mostly belong to the middle class, in the United States ("Dual language programs, "2019). West Liberty School is a pioneer in dual language programs and focuses on enhancing social justice by offering supportive instructions for ELL students to allow the explore their academic performance as their white peers ("Dual language programs, "2019). The schools have a minimum of 60/40 Spanish to English ration, which allows it to attract more people into its Spanish immersion program.

Secondly, bilingual language programs enhance students' communication skills. In this case, they help children learn how to express themselves in diverse ways and comprehend how language works. Communication competence is also a significant element in the job market. Therefore, by providing an opportunity for children to learn more than one language from a tender age, schools allow children to enhance fluency in their native language and enhance their understanding of foreign languages ("Dual language programs, "2019). The situation permits them to express themselves confidently and work in diverse settings in society.


Overall, language immersion programs in the State of Iowa have improved its capacity to serve the needs of its diverse society. The state has a majority-minority population, who benefit from various choice-based dual-language programs. Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, German, Italian, and Latin two-way and one-way immersion programs are offered across different institutions in Iowa. Spanish immersion programs are more dominant in the region due to the high population of Hispanics. The program is implemented throughout the K-12 system; however, the number of students reduces past grade five. State policies that enhance foreign language learning and partnership with countries such as Spain and China have a positive impact in proliferation of the endeavor. However, schools face challenges in recruiting teachers who are bilingual competent. Schools across the country should enhance diversity and promote social justice by promoting language immersion programs.


Dual language programs emerging in Iowa. (2019). Iowa Association of School Boards. Retrieved from

Ruan, J., Zhang, J., & Leung, C. B. (Eds.). (2015). Chinese language education in the United States (Vol. 14). Springer.

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Iowa's K-12 System: Achieving Social Justice Through Immersion Programs - Essay Sample. (2023, Feb 24). Retrieved from

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