The paper presents the last information on the North American experience concerning bilingual education and immersion education in particular. After a short overview of different types and programs of bilingual education, distinctions are being introduced between second language learning for majority children and for minority students. Also, differences between the United States and Canada are pointed out.
The main part of the paper deals with the description and critical evaluation of French immersion programs in Canada for the majority children of Anglophone origin, since they seem to be particularly relevant for our discussion and approaches of bilingual education over here. In addition, alternative approaches of language learning and teaching, designed for Francophone students to acquire English as a second language (ESL), are presented, namely intensive ESL programs in Quebec and comprehension-based ESL courses in New Brunswick. All of them seem to be surprisingly successful.
The paper finishes off by considering the chances and risks of transferring the North American experience to Germany. It is argued that no direct transfer or application within our sitting is possible; rather, it seems more appropriate to study those programs with all their strength and weakness well, yet to develop a variety of types of bilingual education on our own, necessary for different needs and groups of learners in an European perspective.