December 19, 2012

University’s Language House Speaks Anything but English


UM’s Language House speaks anything but English
by Marlena Chertock
December 16, 2012

Upstairs in the St. Mary’s Hall apartments at the University of Maryland, students have conversations in Spanish or French. Downstairs they speak Japanese. The only language students can’t speak most of the time is English.

The 100 students in the Language House live an immersion lifestyle. They are required to speak their language of study 80 percent of the time. And they often practice more than one.

The Language House is a thriving example of language immersion programs that have been increasing in schools across the nation. There are currently about 2,000 immersion programs in elementary and middle schools in the U.S., according to the Harvard Graduate School of Education newsletter.

These programs have grown in the past 40 years. The first immersion programs began in California in the 1970s and were based on French-language programs in Canada. They continued to grow throughout the 1980s and ’90s, according to Marty Abbott, the director of education for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

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