An explanatory sequential mixed methods study exploring interpersonal relationships and social-emotional learning in dual language two-way immersion and general education classrooms.


Developing cross-cultural awareness and deterring discrimination based on race and ethnicity is a priority in United States’ schools (Lindholm, 1994; Rodriguez-Hidalgo, Calmaestra, Casas, & Ortega-Ruiz, 2019). In a proactive approach to devising effective systems to build cultural competency, the nation’s educational system provides a means for imparting the skills necessary to thrive in a global world (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). Diversified education programs, such as Dual Language Two-Way Immersion (DLTWI) models, are on a considerable rise in popularity among school districts nationwide (Lindholm, 2013). Academic achievement and bilingualism are two well-recognized goals of dual-language programs. However, there is a third goal that boasts promoting cross-cultural understanding and awareness, which is also undeniably more challenging to measure (Feinaurer & Howard, 2012; U.S. Department of Education, 2017). This explanatory sequential mixed method study examined student behaviors in two fifth grade classrooms, one Dual Language Two-Way Immersion classroom, and one general education classroom, to observe the interpersonal relationships, social-emotional learning, and classroom cultures of each. This study’s theoretical framework stemmed from sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1978), social and emotional learning (CASEL, 2019), and the lens of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995). This study revealed differences in student development of social-emotional learning skills and classroom culture in both of the aforementioned educational programs, based on the structure of the instructional environment. The study took place in an elementary school within a large south-central Texas school district, implementing a Dual Language TwoWay Immersion program since 2010. The program model adhered to a 90/10 (Spanish and English respectively) framework and involved a 50/50 classroom ratio of majority and minority speakers. Data collection involved a SEL competency rating scale, student self-reporting, and observations. Data analysis occurred in two phases, with first quantitative phase desegregated data for statistical significance of SEL differences between the classroom settings. The qualitative phase involved the categorization of observation protocols and student responses. Key findings demonstrated students in the dual language setting rated higher in SEL competencies and were more likely to have higher self-efficacy and display a growth mindset than students in a general education setting.



Culturally relevant pedagogy. Social and emotional learning. Dual Language. Dual language two-way immersion. Cultural competency. Bilingual education.