World Language Immersion Program

In the World Language Immersion Program, students develop proficiency in Spanish and English through content matter instruction. The mission of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) World Language Immersion Program is to provide students with rigorous academic instruction in the target language, to develop biliteracy skills and a multicultural perspective, and to empower students to actively engage in our global community.

What is immersion?

Immersion is an educational model that provides students the opportunity to develop high levels of listening, speaking, reading and writing in English and in Spanish 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 curriculum through the lens of a second language.

Which model of language immersion does VBCPS use?

VBCPS uses a one-way, 50/50 language immersion instructional model. In grades one through five, students spend approximately half of their day immersed in the target language and the other half of their day receiving instruction in English. A Spanish immersion teacher delivers instruction in Spanish during mathematics and science, content areas that lend themselves to hands-on activities and the use of manipulatives. Students receive instruction in English during language arts and social studies. The immersion teachers team with the grade-level English Language Arts teachers to embed reading and writing skills across content areas and to integrate the whole VBCPS curriculum. Lessons in elective classes such as art, music and physical education are in English.

Students completing the elementary world language immersion program may continue their study of Spanish in the middle school world language immersion program. 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 a 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 world language immersion programs in grades 1 through 5 at the following locations:

Elementary School (Grades 1-5) Middle School Transition Program (Grades 6-8)
Christopher Farms Elementary School
Established SY 2002
2828 Pleasant Acres Dr
(757) 648-2240
Landstown Middle School
Established SY 2006
2204 Recreation Dr
(757) 648-4750
Alanton Elementary School
Established SY 2015
1441 Stephens Rd.
(757) 648-2000

Trantwood Elementary School
Established SY 2016
2344 Inlynnview Rd.
(757) 648-4000
*5th grade added in the 2020-2021 school year
Great Neck Middle School
Anticipated SY 2020-2021
1848 N. Great Neck Rd.
(757) 648-4550

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 first graders. 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 more information about the school division’s world language immersion program, contact Kelly Arble, K-12 world languages coordinator, in the Department of Teaching and Learning at 757.263.1469.