Dual Language Immersion Program

VBCPS Dual Language Immersion Program: Bilingualism & Biliteracy | Academic Achievement | Intercultural CompetenceIn the Dual Language Immersion Program, students develop proficiency in Spanish and English through content matter instruction. The mission of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Dual Language Immersion Program is to provide students with rigorous academic instruction in English and the partner language, to develop biliteracy skills and a multicultural perspective, and to empower students to actively engage in our global community.

What is dual language immersion (DLI)?

Dual language immersion (DLI) is an educational model that provides students the opportunity to develop high levels of listening, speaking, reading and writing in English and another language through instruction in core content areas. Unlike a traditional world language class, where the language itself is the focus of instruction, immersion students learn core VBCPS curriculum through the lens of a second language. VBCPS uses both one-way, 50/50 language immersion and two-way, 80/20 immersion instructional models.

One-way vs. two-way dual language immersion (DLI) in VBCPS

One-way, 50/50 immersion

  • Classes are comprised of predominantly native speakers of English who are learning Spanish.
  • Throughout grades 1-5, students spend approximately 50% of their day immersed in Spanish and the other 50% receiving instruction in English.
  • A Spanish immersion teacher delivers instruction in Spanish in mathematics and science and a grade-level English language arts teacher delivers instruction in language arts and social studies throughout grades 1-5.

Two-way, 80/20 immersion

  • Classes are comprised of a balance of speakers and learners of Spanish. Both student populations serve as peer language models to each other.
  • In kindergarten, students spend approximately 80% of their day immersed in Spanish and the other 20% receiving instruction in English. Students gradually receive more instruction in English each year, with instruction in each language balancing out to 50/50 in grades 3-5.
  • A bilingual teacher delivers instruction in both Spanish and English. In grades K-5, mathematics and science are taught in Spanish and language arts is taught in both Spanish and English. Social studies is taught in Spanish in grades K-1 and in English in grades 2-5.

In both programs,

  • Teachers embed reading and writing skills across content areas and integrate the whole VBCPS curriculum.
  • Lessons in elective classes such as art, music and physical education are in English.

Students completing an elementary dual language immersion program may continue their study of Spanish in middle school. In grades six through eight, students receive social studies instruction in the target language. They also refine their knowledge of the target language by taking an immersion Spanish world language course for high school credit. Beginning as sixth graders with a level one world language course, students can complete three years of high school world language credits by the end of eighth grade. This prepares them for advanced world language study during high school where they may take levels IV, V, AP Language and AP Literature.

Students completing the elementary and middle school world language immersion program with a strong record (3.0 GPA and no disciplinary infractions) are guaranteed acceptance into the Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood High School.

Benefits of Bilingualism

The advantages of language learning, particularly in early childhood, are supported by decades of research. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has compiled studies that show numerous correlations between language learning and cognitive benefits, increases in academic achievement, and development of cross-cultural understanding.

Language learning provides cognitive benefits to students, including:

  • Increases in higher-order critical thinking and problem solving
  • Higher levels of cognitive processing, including spatial reasoning and more advanced verbal processing
  • Decreases in age-related cognitive losses such as memory loss
  • Increased social skills and the ability to engage in more creative problem solving
  • Increased brain function related to attention and inhibition.

Language learning supports academic achievement. Language learners:

  • Do as well or better than their peers in English-only programs in assessments of academic achievement
  • Gain cross-cultural skills and global perspectives
  • Show gains in other subjects such as math and English reading
  • Do better on college entrance exams
  • Gain transferrable skills such as higher levels of print awareness, metalinguistic understanding, and more sophisticated analytical skills.

Language learning leads to cross-cultural understanding

  • Ability to collaborate and communicate with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Confidence to engage in global communities and take part in global economy/international workforce that is becoming increasingly culturally diverse

Research on World Language Immersion Education

Immersion Schools

The school division offers Spanish dual language immersion (DLI) programs at the following locations:

One-Way DLI Programs

Elementary School (Grades 1-5)

Christopher Farms Elementary School
Established SY 2002
2828 Pleasant Acres Dr
(757) 648-2240

Alanton Elementary School
Established SY 2015
1441 Stephens Rd.
(757) 648-2000

Trantwood Elementary School
Established SY 2016
2344 Inlynnview Rd.
(757) 648-4000

Middle School Transition Program (Grades 6-8)

Landstown Middle School
Established SY 2006
2204 Recreation Dr
(757) 648-4750

Great Neck Middle School
Established SY 2020
1848 N. Great Neck Rd.
(757) 648-4550
*7th grade added in the 2021-2022 school year.

Two-Way DLI Programs

Elementary School (Grades K-5)

Bayside Elementary School
Anticipated SY 2021-2022*
5649 Bayside Rd.
(757) 648-2080

W. T. Cooke Elementary School
Anticipated SY 2021-2022*
1501 Mediterranean Ave.
(757) 648-2320

Middle School Transition Program (Grades 6-8)

Bayside 6th Grade Campus
Anticipated SY 2027-2028*
4722 Jericho Rd.
(757) 648-4440

Bayside Middle School
Anticipated SY 2028-2029*
965 Newtown Rd.
(757) 648-4400

Virginia Beach Middle School
Anticipated SY 2027-2028*
600 25th Street
(757) 648-5050

*Two-way DLI programs will begin in Kindergarten in 2021-2022. An additional grade level will be added each year until the program is fully implemented across grades K-8.

The immersion program will expand to include additional schools and languages as resources are available.


Students who live in the established attendance zone of a school hosting an elementary immersion program are eligible to apply as rising kindergarteners (for two-way DLI) or first graders (for one-way DLI). As language learning is sequential, students will not be admitted after the first semester of second grade except in special circumstances. Heritage speakers of the target language or students transferring from other immersion programs may apply for admission at any time.

Contact Information

For registration and application questions, please contact the above schools directly.

For more information about the school division's dual language immersion program curriculum, contact Kelly Arble, K-12 World Languages Coordinator, in the Department of Teaching and Learning at 757.263.1469.