Giles, Dell Perry
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Spanish/English Two-Way Immersion Education (TWI) is a type of bilingual education in which Spanish-speaking and English-speaking students are taught together and both languages are used for classroom instruction. Despite all the empirical evidence documenting TWI as a viable and successful way of educating minority- and majority-language children to be bilingual and biliterate citizens, there are relatively few programs in operation, and up until 2006 there were no public TWI programs in Georgia. Prior to 2006, TWI did not exist in Georgia’s public schools, yet schools were struggling to meet the needs of the rapidly increasing Spanish-speaking population, and businesses were challenged with finding employees who were equipped with the linguistic and cultural knowledge to work in the international community. Why were there no public TWI programs in operation in Georgia? What were the reasons? Had anyone ever tried it before? What were the obstacles to starting a public TWI program? Indeed, we have yet to gain a clear understanding of the process by which a person develops a TWI program, overcoming barriers and garnering support at the level of the community, district, and state. This study is an autoethnographic account of the process and challenges of starting a public TWI school in Georgia. It gives an emic perspective of the procedures, struggles, strategies, and emotions involved in creating an educational program that defies the monolingual norms that dominate public education in the United States in general and in Georgia in particular. In this study I used self-reflection and interactive analysis to document the process of starting a public TWI school in Georgia in order to understand the personal and professional challenges involved.