A Brief History of Spanish Immersion

spanish immersion historyBelieve it or not, the history of language immersion dates back over five thousand years. That’s when the very first language classes were taught in schools. For thousands of years, Latin was the primary language offered in educational facilities. Then, in the 18th century, schools promoted the study of modern languages; however, the work was almost always written translation. It wasn’t until the 19th and 20th centuries that the modern conversational style of language education came into place. Since then, language education has become a core part of many schools’ curriculum around the world.

Much later, in 1965, the first language immersion classes were taught in Quebec, Canada. The first program was a French immersion program that began in first grade. These classes were offered in response to the demand by English speaking parents in Quebec for their children to excel in French equally as well as in English. The teachers only spoke French to native English speakers in first grade and, every year, they added more English into their lessons. This turned out to be an effective method of teaching because these students accomplished greater fluency than their Canadian-born counterparts.

Spanish immersion has been around for some time now, yet it has risen in popularity exponentially in the past ten years. It is currently at its height of popularity with many programs including and or requiring studying abroad, summer language programs and much more. Today, Spanish accounts for roughly half of all immersion classes worldwide with French and Mandarin coming in a distant second and third respectively.

Spanish Immersion Workshop was founded by Karina Giménez, the current director of SiW, back in 2005. Karina was inspired to establish SiW by the success she experienced designing early Spanish childhood development programs via the immersion method.