Dual Language Immersion

Vision & Mission

The vision of the North Carolina State Board of Education is that every public school student in North Carolina will be empowered to accept academic challenges, prepared to pursue their chosen path after graduating high school, and encouraged to become lifelong learners who will engage in a globally-collaborative society.

Global Education is the means to ensuring that our North Carolina public school graduates are globally engaged and productive citizens.

North Carolina champions DL/I education empowering students to graduate as academically successful, biliterate, bilingual, and culturally competent global citizens.

DL/I Commitment in Global Education

A main focus or goal of the State Board of Education's Global Education Task Force report, "Preparing Students for the World" (January 2013) was to implement a plan for statewide access to dual language/immersion (DL/I) programs, K-12.

North Carolina has been a leader in dual language/immersion (DL/I) for over 30 years. The first Spanish DL/I program began in the fall of 1990, and we now have over 260 DL/I programs across K-12 in eight different languages: Cherokee, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Spanish, and Urdu.

The 2021 Canvass of DL/I Programs in US Public Schools showed that North Carolina is #5 in the nation and leading the Southeast in the number of DL/I programs.  As a state, we are also very linguistically diverse, with at least 389 languages other than English being used in North Carolina students’ homes according to the latest Language Diversity in North Carolina report.

The NC DL/I Flyer highlights information and resources for our programs. Feel free to download it for printing or share this shortened URL with others: https://bit.ly/DLIinNCflyer.

Please read the details below about the ongoing work to sustain and expand K-12 DL/I programs in North Carolina.

DL/I State Resources

Tab/Accordion Items

If you have questions about a dual language/immersion (DL/I) program in North Carolina, please contact the DL/I administrator(s) for the Public School Unit (PSU) in the NC DL/I Program Directory or this resource to explore the DL/I programs across the state. Details posted include contact information for administrators and principals, DL/I program website for the PSU, school name, DL/I language, type of immersion, program model, year of launch, school website, etc.

The NC DL/I Program Directory is updated by the NCDPI DL/I Team on an ongoing basis* and is available in two formats:

*If you see information that needs to be updated, please submit the details using the NC DL/I Program Directory Update Form.

NCDPI has compiled Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for DL/I programs, which are divided into 12 sections plus a list of acronyms:

  1. Contacts
  2. DL/I Programs
  3. DL/I Program: Students
  4. DL/I Program: Teachers
  5. DL/I Students: Academically or Intellectually Gifted (AIG)
  6. DL/I Students: Exceptional Children
  7. English Learners and English as a Second Language: ELs/ESL
  8. Instruction
  9. Media & Communications
  10. Testing & Accountability
  11. Resources
  12. Standards

Please go to the DL/I FAQs or share this shortened URL: https://bit.ly/NCDLIfaqs.

The DL/I in NC News, which was previously known as the DL/I Discourse magazine, is a periodic publication featuring an array of articles for DL/I educators. Please use the links below to access the current and past editions in Canva or PDF format.

DL/I in NC News - Issue 1 (January, 2024)

2022 - 2023 DL/I Discourse (quarterly publication on the DL/I Educators listserv)

Spring 2022 DL/I Discourse: Where Do We Go From Here? (Part 2)

Fall 2021 DL/I Discourse: Where Do We Go From Here? (Part 1)

Fall 2020 DL/I Discourse: Focus on Curriculum

Year in Review 2019-2020 DL/I Discourse: The Power of Leadership

Fall 2019 DL/I Discourse: Making Connections

The NCDPI Dual Language/Immersion (DL/I) Team provides a variety of professional learning opportunities designed for DL/I programs and also connects with other NCDPI teams and professional organizations to inform the work of K-12 DL/I programs. 

Please see the information and links below to access DL/I professional learning for individual and local use.

Book Studies

The DL/I Blue Book study is a self-paced Canvas course focused on Educating English Learners (ELs) for a Transformed World (2009) and Thomas and Collier's research about how their findings support DL/I programming for all students, including ELs in two-way immersion programs. Please use the information and links below to access and enroll in the self-paced DL/I Blue Book Study, and look for future offerings of book studies with other Thomas and Collier publications.

  • If you are a K-12 educator in NC Public Schools, use these step-by-step directions to enroll for 10 contact hours (or 1 CEU) in the HomeBase NCEES PD space.
  • If you are a K-20 educator who wants to adapt this course to offer locally within your instance of Canvas, is at a K-12 independent/private school, a community college, or a higher education organization, or lives in a different state or country, use these instructions to download or import the course, in whole or in part, from Instructure's Canvas Commons.

Conference Presentations

The NCDPI DL/I Team shares information about North Carolina's DL/I programs and work at state, regional, national, and international conferences. Feel free to explore the archived materials from these past presentations, including slides, handouts, hyperlinks, and notes. These materials can be used and/or adapted for local meetings and presentations, and they are available on the DL/I Conference Presentations document.  

LIS Learning Series

The LIS Learning Series is a K-12 professional development opportunity provided by the NCDPI Office of Academic Standards. It is statewide, cross-content-area professional learning on the Literacy Instruction Standards (LIS). The intent of this series is to support educators with integrating the LIS into standards-aligned content area instruction. These materials are also posted in the LIS Toolkit on the LIS-Based Professional Learning page.

  • The 2022 - 2023 LIS Learning Series featured broadcasts with various teams, including: English Language Arts (slides and recording), Math (slides and recording), Multilingual Learner (ML) Education (slides and recording), Science (slides and recording), and Social Studies (slides and recording).
  • There was also a selection of grade span webinars as part of the LIS Learning Series. 
  • Additional content area teams will be part of the 2023 - 2024 LIS Learning Series, like the Utilizing the LIS in Arts Education (slides and recording)

Webinar Series

The past DL/I webinar series were broadcasts that provided support related to implementing K-12 DL/I programs effectively. All educators (teachers, administrators, etc.) from existing or prospective K-12 DL/I programs, as well as post-secondary instructors, professors, and researchers, are welcome to explore the archived materials, including slides, handouts, hyperlinks, and recordings. These materials can be used and/or adapted for local professional development, and they are available in the Webinar Archives area in the Professional Learning section of the World Languages Resources Hub. 

There is a considerable body of research that outlines the benefits of dual language/immersion (DL/I) programs for students, including:

  • higher academic performance,
  • greater cognitive development in mental flexibility, creativity, and divergent thinking,
  • high levels of proficiency in the DL/I program language and in English,
  • positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors, and
  • enhanced career opportunities.

Current Research from North Carolina

There are a number of educators in North Carolina who publish research on our state's DL/I programs. Here is a running list of the most current, peer-viewed articles in reverse chronological order:

Thomas & Collier Research

The Thomas and Collier DL/I longitudinal studies were done in North Carolina by Professors Emeritus at George Mason University, Dr. Virginia Collier and Dr. Wayne Thomas. This research documents how being in a DL/I program benefits all students and how this can close the achievement gap.

Please see the details below about the Thomas & Collier studies, including the annual reports and information about the study shared in books and presentations.

Executive Summaries

Year 1 (2007 - 2008)

Year 2 (2008 - 2009)

Year 3 (2009 - 2010)

Each executive summary is 3 pages long. The most comprehensive executive summary to share with policymakers is Year 3 (2009 - 2010).

Full Reports

Year 1 or 2007 - 2008 (46 pages)

Year 2 or 2008 - 2009 (45 pages)

Year 3 or 2009 - 2010 (65 pages)

Also, Dual Language Education for a Transformed World includes Chapter 5 called "Astounding Effectiveness - The North Carolina Story." Read the excerpt and the published graphs from the North Carolina study.


The focus of dual language/immersion (DL/I) programs is to help students become proficient in another language in addition to English. These students master subject content from other disciplines, using the DL/I program language or both languages.

Research in DL/I programs shows:

  • All students develop high levels of proficiency in the DL/I program language and English.

  • Academic performance of students is at or above grade level.

  • Students demonstrate positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors.

Please see the links below to the Standard Course of Study (SCOS) documents for language acquisition in DL/I programs.

World Language Standards

The proficiency-based North Carolina World Language Essential Standards (WLES) were adopted by the North Carolina State Board of Education in September 2010 and implemented beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.

View the World Languages Content Standards and Support Documents

DL/I programs are part of K-12 Dual & Heritage Languages in the WLES, which has several Instructional Toolkit components or support documents linked above, including these with information about DL/I program standards, K-12, for target language acquisition outcomes:

  • Crosswalk comparing the former standards to the current WLES
  • Unpacking Document for all K - 12 DL/I programs described in the WLES for different language types (alphabetic and logographic)

Many DL/I secondary continuation programs design a language course sequence for students that includes Heritage Language and Modern Language courses, which are outlined in these Unpacking documents linked above: 

  • Dual & Heritage Languages - Heritage Languages (formerly Native Speakers)
  • Modern Languages - High School, Levels I - VIII

The K-12 DL/I Bridging Document serves as a guide to help teachers and administrators create a strong K-12 sequence locally for the DL/I program language as students move from programs at the K-5 or K-8 levels and into Heritage Language and/or Modern Language courses for continuation at the secondary level.

The NCDPI World Languages Standard Course of Study & Supporting Resources page for additional details, and the World Languages Resources Hub at https://bit.ly/NCWLresources contains these resources and other tools, such as Administrator Guides and Clarifying Objectives by Course Outcomes (COCOs) documents, for administrators and teachers.

English Language Development Standards

*Please note: The terms on this section of the page may alternate between "English Learner" (EL) and "Multilingual Learner" (ML). As of March 21, 2022, NCDPI shifted to using "English Learner" for policy and legislation purposes and "Multilingual Learner" for all other purposes. See this letter or watch this video for more details.

The NC English Language Development (ELD) Standard Course of Study is the WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards. The WIDA English Development (ELD) Standards represent the social, instructional and academic language students use to engage with peers, educators and the curriculum in schools. 

Supporting Multilingual Learners

Stakeholders have different areas of expertise and are often responsible for different aspects of educational planning and delivery; however, collectively, they are responsible for the success of MLs. Each teacher can contribute to deliver coordinated educational experiences for MLs according to their own qualifications and areas of expertise (WIDA 2020). To aid content area educators in supporting Multilingual Learners, please visit the NCDPI ML/Title III Team's ELD Standards Resource Hub, which can also be accessed via the short URL: https://bit.ly/ELDStandardsHub. 

English Language Arts (ELA) Standards

The NC Standard Course of Study for English Language Arts defines what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. These standards were adopted by the North Carolina State Board of Education in September 2017 and implemented beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year. More information can be found on the NC Standard Course of Study & Supporting Resources page.

Additional resources to support the implementation of the ELA standards can be located within each of the following ELA Repositories:

ELA Virtual Implementation Kit

The Virtual Implementation Kit (VIK) is a repository for all English Language Arts stakeholders. This repository provides a variety of resources for supporting administrators, educators, and parents during the implementation of the 2017 Standard Course of Study.


ELA Resources LiveBinder

The Resources LiveBinder provides an organized collection of PD Kits and stakeholder communications. This LiveBinder can be used to inform professional development or add clarity to current initiatives.


ELA: The Basics LiveBinder

The Basics LiveBinder guides teachers through two fundamentals of ELA instruction: the Standards and the texts. This step-by-step guide contains information and activities focused on understanding the standards and choosing appropriately complex texts.


Literacy Instruction Standards (LIS)

On October 7, 2021, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved the Literacy Instruction Standards (LIS) as outlined in Section V of SB 387: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021. The LIS serve as a framework for the development and alignment of curriculum and instruction for all public schools. These standards are defined as a level of quality and equity to be used consistently within core literacy instruction statewide. While the NC Standard Course of Study (NCSCOS) sets student expectations, the LIS and their associated instructional practices set expectations for teaching literacy. The LIS are organized by grade-band and can be used to ensure that all teachers across North Carolina have a common understanding and delivery of literacy instruction.


While the LIS have been developed by grade bands, they should be used in tandem with appropriate grade-level texts of increasing complexity in order for students to fully meet the demands of the NCSCOS. This LIS framework does not indicate an exhaustive list of literacy instruction practices and may not fully capture all instructional practices that have the potential to positively impact students' literacy achievement in K-12. New literacy research could modify and/or add to the instructional practices listed. More information can be found on the Literacy Instruction Standards page.


* It is important to note that full implementation is expected by 2024-2025.


Additional resources to support the implementation of the LIS can be located on the Literacy Instruction Standards Toolkit (LIST) - a repository for all literacy stakeholders that provides a variety of resources for supporting administrators, educators, and parents during the implementation of the current LIS.

The Dual Language/Immersion in North Carolina (DL/I in NC) Committee is a K-20 group representing DL/I programs from across the state. Previously, the DL/I in NC Committee was called the DL/I Advisory Board. The members of this board have the opportunity to share their expertise and collaborate with the NCDPI DL/I Team and other educators across the state for the following purposes:

  • advise on policy and implementation questions
  • give input on materials, resources and information created and disseminated to support DL/I implementation
  • provide feedback on the professional learning needs of the DL/I field
  • serve in small groups to develop DL/I processes, resources, PD, etc.

DL/I in NC Committee members are selected based on the application process that is done every two years.

North Carolina's DL/I programs use the terms summarized below from the book, Languages & Children: Making the Match, by Helena Curtain and Carol Ann Dahlberg. 

Please view the North Carolina DL/I Program Directory (text version or visual version) to see how schools describe their DL/I programs.

Types of Immersion

There are two types of immersion programs: One-Way and Two-Way. These terms refer to the population of students being served in the DL/I program.

  • One-Way Immersion - Students enrolled in the DL/I program are mostly monolingual speakers, either of English or of the DL/I program language

  • Two-Way Immersion - Students enrolled in the DL/I program are a combination of native speakers of English and native speakers of the DL/I program language

Types of Programs

There are several types of DL/I programs offered in North Carolina. 

  • Continuing Immersion - Designed to continue a DL/I program at the secondary level (middle school/junior high, high school). Courses are delivered in English or the DL/I program language, depending on scheduling and other factors.

  • Developmental Bilingual - Designed for English Learners (ELs) to develop English proficiency, as well as to maintain and improve their native or heritage language skills. Content is delivered in the DL/I program language and in English.

  • Full Immersion - Structured for environments where the DL/I program language is used exclusively or for the majority of the day. Content is delivered in the DL/I program language. English language arts is typically introduced around grade 2.

  • Indigenous Immersion - Designed for language and culture revitalization in indigenous communities. Content is delivered in English and the DL/I program language.

  • Partial Immersion - Structured for environments where the DL/I program language is used for some portion of instructional time that is less than half. Content is delivered in English and in the DL/I program language.

DL/I Educators Listserv & Connections

Go to the NCDPI Sign Up for Updates page to add your email address to the Dual Language/Immersion (DL/I) Educators listserv. Announcements, periodic newsletters, and other updates are shared on the listserv. There may also be other NCDPI listservs of interest to you in your work, which you can add to your subscription.

Connect with the NCDPI DL/I Team on Twitter with #DLIinNC or @NCDPI_DLITeam and share this landing page with the shortened URL: https://bit.ly/NCDLIinfo.

Contact the NCDPI DL/I Team

The NCDPI DL/I Team is co-led by the following educators:

  • Ann Marie Gunter, Ph.D., K-12 World Languages Consultant
  • Silvia McDonald, ML/Title III Consultant (Program Quality - East)
  • Mary Phillips, K-5 ELA Consultant

Please email the NCDPI DL/I Team at NCDLI@dpi.nc.gov with any questions.

Also, feel free to contact:

Stacy Daniel, Ed.D.
Section Chief for ELA & Languages
stacy.daniel@dpi.nc.gov or 984-236-2829