Purpose. The purpose of this study was to determine what factors increase and what factors decrease involvement by parents of different ethnicities within dual language immersion programs.
Methodology. The subjects in this study were Korean-, Cantonese-, Spanish-, and English-dominant parents who enroll their children in successful dual language immersion (DLI) programs. The parents responded to two instruments: (a) a 43-item parent questionnaire assessing reasons for choosing the DLI program; levels of communication with teachers; levels of involvement with school and parent organization; and factors that may help or hinder their levels of involvement, and (b) a focus group interview based on Appreciative Inquiry method utilizing 5 semistructured interview questions assessing parent choice, involvement experiences, parent advocacy, and parent leadership in optimal school settings.
Findings. Examination of quantitative and qualitative data from the three DLI programs indicated Korean-, Cantonese-, and Spanish-dominant parents, even in successful DLI programs were significantly less likely to communicate with teachers and staff, attend school events, volunteer to help teachers and children, participate in parent organizations, and take on leadership roles than English-dominant parents with children in the same programs. Additionally, there were significant differences between the three ethnic minority parent groups participating in this study in how they communicate with teachers, type and depth of involvement, level of parent organization support, and parent advocacy and involvement in school and parent organization leadership.
Conclusions. The study data support the conclusion that even successful DLI programs that enjoy high levels of parent involvement should examine their parent involvement plan to provide culturally sensitive opportunities for involvement, assess staff's cultural proficiency levels, and vigorously recruit ethnic minority parent involvement and leadership to ensure these parents are not marginalized by the English-dominant parents in these programs.
Recommendations. Further research is advised: case studies comparing ethnic minority parent involvement in different programs. Also, it is recommended that the study be replicated with a different set of successful DLI programs.