Back to Blog

CATESOL Book Review: Scaffolding Language Development in Immersion and Dual Language Classrooms

Michelle Skowbo

Scaffolding Language Development in Immersion and Dual Language Classrooms
By Diane J. Tedick and Roy Lyster

Image Cover Scaffolding Language Development in Immersion and Dual Language Classrooms  Tedick Lyster Routledge

By Younah Chung & Kara Mac Donald 
The authors found this book, Scaffolding Language Development in Immersion and Dual Language Classrooms, of interest because not only are immersion and dual language programs common in the U.S. but are increasingly educational options in non-L1 English speaking countries. In the differing contexts, parents enroll their children in such programs for distinct reasons but may be something that is aligned in order to provide a language and socio-cultural capital for their children. This text can be highly relevant for ELL educators.


With the increased, and increasing, interest in teaching foreign languages through specific content, the authors address the contexts of the U.S. and Canada, which have a considerable number of programs (i.e. about 50%) offering instruction in foreign/minority language, although varying in nature (i.e., L2, FL, heritage language, etc.). They describe the situations of minority-majority languages and language instruction in both countries, highlighting principal historical events in both countries to frame the development of such programs. They outline the specifics of the common minority-majority language instruction programs: dual language education and its variations and Immersion and dual language education. The chapter closes by addressing benefits of bilingualism and what that means for educators working in and around such programs.

Part I: What is Immersion and Dual Language Instruction

Chapter 1: From Goals and Outcomes to Programs Models and Characteristics
The chapter begins with a discussion of the terms used to describe different language programs, with regard to the US and Canada as means to set the ground for terms used and the increase of different language programs. With a shared understanding established, the authors describe what all immersion and dual language programs (ImDL) share: academic development in both languages, bilingualism and biliteracy and cultural and intercultural competence. Each of these components is discussed in turn. However, fundamental features associated with immersion and dual language programs have a focus on additive bilingualism and biliteracy, subject matter instruction in the minority language, and extensive exposure to the minority language. Some common variations in ImDL programs are presented and these programs address varying student populations that have a range of initial literacy and proficiency in the minority language. The chapter closes with a couple of application activities for teachers to use with their students. Additionally, there is a list of common questions/comments regarding ImDL programs for consideration, as well as resources for readers to acquire more information.

Chapter 2: Characteristics of Well-Implemented Immersion and Dual Language Programs
The authors outline the key characteristics of a well-implemented ImDL program, which are: the role of leadership and the preparation and collaboration of teachers. Regarding the role of leadership, there are three fundamental characteristics: i) strong, informed leadership, ii) commitment to the program model and goals, and iii) commitment to student diversity and equity. Regarding the preparation and collaboration of teachers, there are three critical characteristics: i) high language proficiency and well-trained professionals, ii) ongoing professional development around ImDL, and iii) active and ongoing teacher collaboration. However, there also needs to be strong participation of family and community, as the third stakeholder in ImDL programs. Additionally, the curriculum needs to have adequate integration of content, language and culture. There needs to be language arts and literacy taught in both languages, with equity of each language status. Use of available spaces and time needs to be separate for both languages. Finally, assessment needs to be equitable for both languages for formal testing as well as classroom formative assessment. Again, the chapter closes with a couple of application activities for teachers to use with their students and a list of resources for readers to acquire more information.

Part II:

Chapter 3: Counterbalanced Instruction
Now that readers understand the definitions and characteristics of ImDL programs, this chapter provides the reasons for and benefits of incorporating a strong language curriculum in these programs and describes what the characteristics of counterbalanced instruction are. The authors draw on research to show how minority language programs have fallen short in fully developing students’ language proficiency and argue how there is a need for additional instruction approaches to make up for these established shortcomings. This section of the chapter presents short explanations of key literature in easy to process summary boxes grouped by category: i) semantic processing at the expense of syntactic processing, ii) functionally restricted input, iii) language and content kept separate, and iv) comprehension emphasized at the expense of production. The next section of the chapter shifts to citing and discussing research on how to make ImDL instruction more balanced by systematically moving students’ focus between language and content, with short teacher excerpts as examples. The remainder of the chapter provides an in-depth discussion of what counterbalanced instruction is and how to implement theory effectively in the classroom. Throughout the chapter there are pullout boxes summarizing principal concepts and teacher instructional examples. 

Chapter 4:  Contextualization, Awareness, Practice, and Autonomy, The CAPA Model
Delivering contextualized language instruction across a curriculum can present various challenges. To assist teachers, the authors offer the Contextualization, Awareness, Practice, and Autonomy (CAPA) model to provide a framework for sequential instructional phases. Each of the phases (i.e., Contextualization, Awareness, Practice Autonomy) is comprised of at least one activity, but often contain more. The Contextualization phase presents the material or content in a meaningful and/or related context. The Awareness phase fosters focus in students’ awareness of principle features, discovering patterns and salient characteristics. The Practice phase provides students with a controlled context to use and experiment with the content. The Autonomy phase offers students the chance to use the key features and content in an open-ended activity with less controlling parameters. Each of these phases has a dedicated discussion for readers to explore each one’s features. Again, in this chapter there are pullout boxes offering teacher instructional examples. As in other chapters, several application activities for teachers are shared and a list of resources for readers to acquire more information.

Part III: What is Scaffolding?
Part III explores the important role of scaffolding in ImDL programs, especially in helping students engage with content beyond their autonomous capacities and improve both comprehension and production. Part III seeks to answer how scaffolding can be effectively employed in ImDL classrooms. It includes practical examples and case studies to illustrate successful scaffolding strategies in action. As it combines theoretical concepts with practical applications, it offers valuable insights and enhances the applicability of the scaffolding strategies discussed.

Chapter 5: Effective Scaffolding and Questioning Techniques
Chapter 5 focuses on identifying and implementing scaffolding strategies to support student comprehension and production in language learning. The chapter outlines various scaffolding techniques and emphasizes their critical role in language development. The techniques include verbal, procedural, and instructional scaffolding. They are designed to make complex tasks less challenging for students and promote student engagement and understanding. Meaningful oral interaction is also emphasized as crucial for language development, with teachers playing a key role in creating a supportive environment. Additionally, the chapter delves into the importance of effective questioning techniques and their impact on student learning. The use of open-ended questions is underscored since they encourage students to elaborate on their responses by engaging in deeper cognitive processing. By highlighting the importance of pushing students to use more language both quantitatively and qualitatively, the authors provide a framework that encourages active student participation and promotes language growth. The importance of adapting scaffolding strategies as students advance in their proficiency levels is also highlighted. More detailed examination of how these scaffolding techniques can be tailored to different proficiency levels would enhance its applicability.

Chapter 6: Corrective Feedback
Chapter 6 addresses the pivotal role of corrective feedback in scaffolding in counterbalanced instruction within ImDL classrooms. The chapter explores different types of corrective feedback and their respective impacts on student learning. It discusses how to incorporate corrective feedback within classroom discourse to foster language development. The purpose of corrective feedback is to provide students with linguistic evidence about what is possible and what is not in the language. The authors emphasize that corrective feedback should be delivered in a manner that encourages active student participation and supports their continued language learning. The chapter stresses that while teachers provide corrective feedback, students should correct their own mistakes. This underscores a key aspect of language learning that promotes autonomy and active engagement. By presenting insights into the effectiveness of corrective feedback, the authors provide a clear framework for implementing corrective feedback. 

Part IV: Curriculum planning and assessment

Part IV focuses on the critical aspects of curriculum planning and assessment. It provides a practical guide on instruction and assessment designs that integrate subject-matter content with the necessary language skills. It introduces actionable templates for unit-level and lesson-level instructional designs, emphasizing the integration of content, language, and culture. Part IV also discusses the importance of read-aloud projects for language development and underscores performance assessment strategies that integrate communication modes and content. A self-assessment tool for teachers is also introduced to encourage professional reflection.

Chapter 7: Unit-level Instructional Design
Chapter 7 focuses on unit-level instructional design, emphasizing the integration of content, language, and culture. It highlights the backward design approach, which involves starting with the lesson objectives and working backward to plan instruction and assessments. The emphasis on backward design aligns with contemporary educational practices, ensuring that teaching is goal-oriented and evidence-based. The key aspect of unit-level design is integrated curriculum planning, which involves designing curriculum units that integrate content knowledge, language development, and cultural understanding. This is particularly relevant for ImDL programs as it addresses the multifaceted needs of students. The chapter also clarifies the distinctions between units, modules, and lessons in terms of scope and sequence. Additionally, the chapter outlines the components that go into planning each level and introduces instructional design templates. The authors encourage collaborative planning among teachers, fostering a greater awareness of the demands of integrated content and language instruction. The detailed approach to planning and practical templates provided can greatly aid teachers in developing comprehensive and cohesive instructional units. 

Chapter 8: Module and Lesson Instructional Design
Chapter 8 focuses on designing instructional modules and lessons for ImDL programs, emphasizing the importance of effective integration of learning objectives. The primary learning objectives are language and content objectives. Writing detailed and focused language objectives that identify the discourse type, language function, grammatical features, and vocabulary students need to produce is important. Developing content-obligatory language objectives that target the vocabulary, grammar, discourse, and language functions that are essential for addressing the content area is also highlighted. The secondary learning objectives are cultural/cross-cultural competences, cross-linguistic abilities, learning strategies, and social/affective objectives. The chapter builds on the previous discussion on unit-level instructional design and delves into more detailed strategies for lesson planning by providing a planning template. The CAPA (Content, Academic Language, Participation, Assessment) model is noted as a clear framework for organizing and sequencing lessons that teachers can easily implement. Additionally, the chapter discusses scaffolding language objectives and how to make them clear and achievable by sharing examples of language objectives that align with lesson content and student needs. The inclusion of detailed examples and activities enhances its practical application. One of the strengths of this chapter is its emphasis on revisiting rich texts with different focuses or purposes. This strategy not only reinforces content knowledge but also promotes deeper language learning.

Chapter 9: Scaffolding Biliteracy Development
Chapter 9 addresses the complexities of bilingual education and underscores the significance of giving the minority language its own space while also balancing the integration of both languages of instruction. This balancing act presents a challenge for teachers who aim to foster strong connections between the languages and encourage students to use all their linguistic resources to enhance learning. The chapter highlights a children’s storybook read-aloud project with the goal of developing a content-based curricular unit that promotes the minority language while engaging students in meaningful learning activities. The project helped to raise student enthusiasm and improve teacher collaboration. It implies that children’s literature is a valuable resource for content that can stimulate student motivation and language development. An intentional and systematic focus on integrating both languages in instruction is highlighted to maximize educational outcomes. The chapter also emphasized the need for more structured guidance and planning time for teachers to effectively implement bilingual instructional interventions.

Chapter 10: Performance Assessment
Chapter 10 highlights the importance of performance-based assessments in ImDL settings while emphasizing the instructional practice aspect of assessments, which is to provide continuous feedback to both students and teachers. The chapter explores various formative assessment techniques and also discusses doing summary learning checks at the end of lessons to ensure that learning objectives have been met. Additionally, the chapter underscores Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA). The IPA framework is a comprehensive approach to assessing language proficiency in a holistic manner, which involves a series of communicative tasks that students are likely to encounter in real-world situations. These meaningful and authentic tasks encourage students to demonstrate their ability to use the language in context. The chapter concludes by integrating performance-based and formative assessments, teachers can create a more responsive and supportive learning environment that addresses their students’ diverse needs. The chapter emphasizes performance-based assessments and explains formative assessment techniques in detail while offering specific examples such as the “ticket to exit” method. This gives valuable insights for teachers seeking to enhance their instructional practices and makes the chapter both informative and actionable.


The conclusion highlights how important the integration of content and language instruction is in ImDL programs. It emphasizes that the best content teaching is also the best language teaching. The book focused on scaffolding strategies to develop students' minority language skills in ImDL programs, covered different ImDL models, the theory behind counterbalanced instruction, scaffolding techniques, curricular planning to integrate content/language/culture, biliteracy development, performance assessment, and teacher self-assessment. The conclusion illustrates three interrelated levels: the foundational principles, the curriculum and assessment practices, and the instructional practices. It is emphasized that teachers' practical experiences can also shape theoretical underpinnings and when challenges reveal misapplied principles, teachers' practices can refine the theory. This reciprocal relationship between theory and practice allows for a dynamic and responsive approach. Overall, the book aims to be a useful resource for ImDL teachers striving to provide high-quality integrated content and language instruction. The theoretical foundations are well-explained, from skill acquisition theory to the CAPA model for counterbalanced instruction. Plenty of concrete examples and recommendations make it easy to apply the concepts in practice. 

Concluding Summary

This book offers detailed insight into the different types of immersion and dual language programs, and what these programs have lacked in the past and how current programs can best support learners’ bilingual proficiency and overall academic development. Oftentimes teachers outside of immersion and dual language programs may not have a clear understanding of the different program structures and goals, as there are a variety of terms in use. This book gives a wealth of insight into such programs but can also be beneficial for individuals not interested in or associated with immersion and dual language programs as it offers a variety of pedagogical discussion on what promotes language development.