Immersion Education: Vice or Virtue?

Proceedings of The 7th International Conference on Advanced Research in Teaching and Education

Year: 2023



Immersion Education: Vice or Virtue?

Edward Yuk Wo Chu




While immersion education propels second language development more effectively than regular second language lessons, it may at the same time reduce first language exposure and impose hindrance to content subject studying due to the language barrier. Even worse, those potential shortcomings are feared to impact negatively pupils’ learning motivation and mental well-being. To this end, a case of a Hong Kong primary school where immersion (termed enhancement) and non-immersion (termed non-enhancement) classes are run in parallel in Grades 1-3 equivalent is studied. Quantitative data from various sources, including final exam scores, student in-class behaviour in classroom observations and student questionnaire, are first collected and collated. Enhancement students (n=68) are then compared with the non-enhancement students (n=180) in terms of their scores in the language and content subjects, their percentages of class time showing motivation using ‘Classroom Observation Scheme aided by MOLT (Motivation orientation of language teaching)’, and their responses in ‘Integrated Student Questionnaire on English learning motivation and level of happiness’ using independent t-tests. There is evidence showing that enhancement students learn just as well if not better than the non-enhancement students in content subjects without jeopardising their first language achievement. Their motivation of learning and mental well-being is also on par with their non-enhancement counterparts. Despite the absence of true randomization samples, the results reconfirm the value of immersion education.

keywords:English as a second language, Hong Kong, Immersion, Motivation, Primary level