• Ritenour launches pilot bilingual training program
    Bilingual Education

    Ritenour launches pilot bilingual training program

    Leer este reporte en español.

    On a latest morning in trainer Geri Ross’s classroom at Marion Elementary Faculty, second graders sat at clusters of desks, singing songs and studying tales in Spanish.

    The partitions had been embellished with colourful posters depicting letter sounds, math ideas and vocabulary in each English and Spanish. After lunch, Ross switched a light-weight on the entrance of the room from pink to blue and sang a brand new call-and-response tune with the scholars.

    “Welcome all, to the category in English,” the scholars sang. “Goodbye Spanish. Hi there to English.”

    The scholars have spent the previous faculty yr in a pilot class that’s testing bilingual training within the Ritenour Faculty District.

    Simply throughout the river in Illinois, faculties are required to supply bilingual training in some lecture rooms. However Missouri faculties have discovered it troublesome to start out related packages. As educators seek for methods to assist college students who had been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, Ritenour leaders say its pilot class has had a massively optimistic impact on college students’ confidence and their take a look at scores.

    Relatively than being pulled out of sophistication to give attention to English, the scholars work on their math, studying and writing abilities in Spanish within the morning, then be taught those self same topics in English within the afternoon. On this class, even college students who’re new to the nation can bounce proper into their coursework, as an alternative of ready till their English improves.

    Geri Ross, a bilingual second grade teacher at Marion Elementary School, provides instruction

    Brian Munoz


    St. Louis Public Radio

    Geri Ross, a bilingual second grade trainer at Marion Elementary Faculty, gives instruction in Spanish on Could 12 on the faculty in Overland.

    In a break between class, Ross ticked off studying features that might make most educators’ jaws drop. In math, all of her college students began the varsity yr “beneath fundamental;” two semesters later, 70% are at or above district requirements. Greater than half the category was studying beneath grade degree originally of the yr. Now, 1 in 5 college students within the class has improved their studying by two or extra grade ranges.

    The varsity’s principal, Bilal Ewing, stated Ross is an impressive trainer, however he thinks the format of the category was an enormous a part of the success. “The outcomes that she acquired with this class outpaced even the outcomes that she had proven together with her regular classroom the earlier yr, so there needs to be one thing within the methodology,” he stated.

    That is the primary yr the Ritenour Faculty District has supplied a category like this, and it occurred as a result of Ross pushed for it. She was raised bilingually; her mom spoke together with her in Spanish rising up, although she just isn’t a local Spanish speaker. Ross tells her college students their bilingualism is a superpower.

    After simply three years as a trainer, Ross’ popularity precedes her within the district. Directors have seen her distinctive potential to attach together with her college students and their dad and mom, whereas additionally producing what Ewing referred to as “loopy” educational outcomes. She additionally works to acknowledge her college students’ cultural heritage, by celebrating every of their residence international locations throughout Hispanic Heritage month and protecting in common contact with dad and mom on WhatsApp.

    However her exceptionalism can also be an instance of the challenges in implementing a program like this — whereas Ritenour leaders want they might add extra bilingual lessons, lecturers like Ross are onerous to return by.

    Bilal Ewing, the principal at Marion Elementary School, listens in to students conversing at lunch

    Brian Munoz


    St. Louis Public Radio

    Bilal Ewing, the principal at Marion Elementary Faculty, listens in to college students conversing at lunch on Could 12 on the faculty in Overland. Take a look at scores within the primarily Spanish-speaking inhabitants have risen considerably because the implementation of the second grade transitional bilingual classroom.

    Obstacles to enlargement

    In St. Louis, there’s a scarcity of lecturers who’ve Missouri’s English Language Learner Certification. It’s even tougher to search out bilingual lecturers with the certification, stated Julie Hahn, Ritenour’s assistant superintendent of scholar companies.

    “We simply haven’t got the folks,” Hahn stated. “It’s important to have folks with ardour. They should have a real understanding of language acquisition and actually wish to do that specific job, as a result of it is onerous.”

    Lack of workers is one purpose this instructing mannequin is comparatively uncommon in St. Louis. Some constitution and personal faculties within the area provide instruction in different languages, just like the St. Louis Language Immersion Faculty. However not like the Ritenour class, these faculties are sometimes geared towards each native English audio system and audio system of different languages.

    And whereas some public faculty college students in Carthage and Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, are in a position to take bilingual lessons, it’s “difficult to create these packages and do them very well,” stated College of Missouri affiliate professor Lisa Dorner.

    A district has to have the proper mixture of scholar demographics that might be well-served by this mannequin, together with extremely expert lecturers and assets to implement this system equitably.

    “In numerous our districts, we do not essentially have excessive numbers of scholars from the identical language group,” stated Dorner, who research instructional coverage and immigrant childhoods.

    The Ritenour district has a big focus of Spanish-speaking households, and at Marion Elementary, practically a 3rd of the scholars communicate Spanish.

    The Ritenour Administrative Center on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Overland, Mo.

    Brian Munoz


    St. Louis Public Radio

    The Ritenour Administrative Middle on March 2 in Overland

    However in St. Louis Public Faculties, college students communicate greater than 50 languages. In addition they have a various vary of instructional experiences earlier than coming to the district, which might imply this mannequin wouldn’t be finest for them. As a substitute, the district tries to tailor its program to satisfy the wants of every particular person language learner, stated Alla Gonzalez Del Castillo, director of the ESOL Bilingual Migrant Program in St. Louis Public Faculties.

    “Whereas in our district we do not have bilingual programming, we do encourage our lecturers to permit college students to make use of their first language, or to create alternatives the place they are going to use their first language,” Gonzalez Del Castillo stated. “There are numerous completely different packages that may be good for English language learners, however you really want to take a look at the context and see what’s finest for the learners in that district.”

    Illinois’ lengthy historical past

    Not like Missouri, faculties in Illinois are required to supply some type of bilingual instruction if they’ve greater than 20 college students in a single faculty who’re studying English and communicate the identical language at residence. That has been state regulation because the 1970’s.

    Within the Metro East, the Collinsville Faculty District first started instructing bilingual lessons for kindergarten college students in 2008 and has since expanded to a number of grade ranges throughout a number of buildings.

    “Again after I was in class, it was extra just like the previous sink or swim that you just simply put them within the classroom,” stated Carla Cruise, the district’s English Learner Coordinator. “They be taught English as a result of that is the one factor that was being taught. However analysis has proven that in case you join the concepts and the ideas and the abilities with their native language, they really be taught extra. “

    Because the program’s launch, a whole bunch of children have taken the bilingual lessons. This system has not solely boosted educational outcomes, Cruise stated, it’s additionally fostered a better relationship with the neighborhood.

    “We have now such a big inhabitants that I feel due to the help and the progress that we’re making, the households are pleased right here,” Cruise stated. “And the phrase will get out to different relations they usually generally relocate from different areas to our district.”

    There’s a particular endorsement for Illinois lecturers in bilingual training, an choice not obtainable to Missouri lecturers. Cruise stated the state additionally helps make it simpler to search out lecturers for this system by giving them 5 years to show whereas ending their licensing necessities.

    David Medina Hernandez and Angie Quiles Rivera, both 8, work on Spanish phonetics

    Brian Munoz


    St. Louis Public Radio

    David Medina Hernandez and Angie Quiles Rivera, each 8, work on Spanish phonetics on Could 12 at Marion Elementary Faculty.

    Subsequent steps

    For the second graders in Ross’ class, this has been a particular yr. After practically two years of pandemic-related disruptions, this was their first full yr of in-person studying.

    Eight-year-old Jeri Urbina Morales moved to St. Louis from Mexico together with his household two years in the past and spent his first faculty yr within the U.S. studying just about.

    His mom, Carmen Morales Mora, stated she usually discovered him tuning out of sophistication final yr due to the language barrier.

    “It was actually troublesome when it was digital as a result of he couldn’t focus throughout class,” Morales Mora stated in Spanish. “He wouldn’t concentrate as a result of he stated he didn’t perceive, and he turned hopeless.”

    Now, Jeri appears to be like ahead to his lessons, particularly artwork, math and studying. He stated he’s improved lots in English and is buddies with lots of his classmates. “After I develop up, being bilingual will assist me be a physician,” Jeri wrote for a latest class project.

    However subsequent yr, he and his classmates will enter conventional third grade lessons taught in English. They will nonetheless obtain help from language specialists, however their class expertise gained’t be bilingual prefer it was this yr.

    A sign encouraging bilingualism hands in Geri Ross’ second grade classroom

    Brian Munoz


    St. Louis Public Radio

    An indication encouraging bilingualism arms in Geri Ross’ second grade classroom on Could 12 at Marion Elementary Faculty in Overland. Based on the U.S. Census Bureau, solely 20% of People can converse in two or extra languages, as in comparison with practically half of European residents.

    Jeri stated he feels prepared to make use of English extra usually in class subsequent yr, however district officers acknowledge that’s not excellent.

    “I do suppose that is one in all our challenges: Now what?” stated Hahn, the Ritenour administrator. “Ideally, we’d have a continuum of helps all through their education, and we should not have the capability right now to do this.”

    Hahn stated Ritenour wants a district-wide plan to verify it is persevering with to rejoice and worth multilingual college students and assist them develop educational abilities of their first language.

    “Ideally, a program would undergo fifth grade after which in center faculty, you’d have the chance to take perhaps your authorities lessons in Spanish, perhaps your science can be in English, perhaps your math can be in Spanish,” stated Dorner, of the College of Missouri. “So you’d nonetheless proceed that bilingual strategy over time.”

    For her half, Ross will probably be instructing one other bilingual class subsequent yr — this time with first graders. The district hopes to catch youngsters earlier to present them the additional advantage of bilingual training.

    Leer este reporte en español.

    Brian Munoz contributed to this report.

    Comply with Kate on Twitter: @KGrumke

  • Experian Goes Bilingual With Its Industry-Leading Credit and Personal Finance Twitter Chat | Business
    Bilingual Education

    Experian Goes Bilingual With Its Industry-Leading Credit and Personal Finance Twitter Chat | Business

    COSTA MESA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sep 1, 2021–

    In an effort to educate more consumers about credit and personal finance, Experian® today announced new free resources created specifically for bilingual and Spanish speakers, including an online Twitter chat series and other education content. The new monthly series, #ChatDeCrédito, will explore financial topics important to Hispanic-Latino consumers and provide them with a fun and interactive platform to build their understanding of important credit and personal finance topics.

    This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210901005209/en/

    #ChatDeCrédito will kick off at the start of Hispanic Heritage Month at 3 p.m. Eastern time on September 15. Both bilingual and Spanish-speakers are invited to join the chat to tweet in English, español or a combination, and learn how credit can be used as a financial tool, what can impact credit scores, tips for building credit, and more. Consumers can join and ask questions by searching @Experian or #ChatDeCrédito on Twitter. (Graphic: Business Wire)

    #ChatDeCrédito will kick off at the start of Hispanic Heritage Month at 3 p.m. Eastern time on September 15. Both bilingual and Spanish-speakers are invited to join the chat to tweet in English, español or a combination, and learn how credit can be used as a financial tool, what can impact credit scores, tips for building credit, and more. Consumers can join and ask questions by searching @Experian or #ChatDeCrédito on Twitter.

    “We believe arming the more than 40 million U.S. Spanish-speaking consumers with in-language information about credit and personal finance is key to improving the financial health of the Hispanic-Latino community overall,” said Wil Lewis, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Experian. “We are excited about these new resources for Spanish-language speakers and this is just the beginning. We are committed to being an ongoing resource that diverse communities can trust to deliver helpful information and resources to improve our financial lives.”

    The new #ChatDeCrédito series follows the model of Experian’s award-winning #CreditChat program which started in 2012 to help consumers learn about credit. Since its inception, the program has grown a dedicated online following with hundreds of consumers joining each week. The program has helped thousands of consumers learn about important topics and over 300 personal finance experts have joined to share their knowledge.

    Upcoming #ChatDeCrédito topics include:

    Find Credit Content in Spanish

    Additional in-language resources include The Ultimate Guide to Credit – an online Spanish e-book which includes information about how to responsibly build and manage credit. The e-book also includes information about free online financial tools Experian offers such as Experian Boost™, which allows consumers to get credit for paying their cell phone, utility, streaming service and other bills on time (service provided in English). Many consumers see their credit scores instantly improve after using Experian Boost. i

    About Experian

    Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments — from buying a home or a car to sending a child to college to growing a business by connecting with new customers — we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organizations to prevent identity fraud and crime.

    We have 17,800 people operating across 44 countries, and every day we’re investing in new technologies, talented people and innovation to help all our clients maximize every opportunity. We are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

    Learn more at www.experianplc.com or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the Group.

    Experian and the Experian trademarks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Experian and its affiliates. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

    iResults may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

    View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210901005209/en/

    CONTACT: Amanda Garofalo

    Experian Public Relations

    1 714 460 3739

    [email protected] 



    SOURCE: Experian

    Copyright Business Wire 2021.

    PUB: 09/01/2021 06:02 AM/DISC: 09/01/2021 06:02 AM


    Copyright Business Wire 2021.

  • UTSA hires leader to build bilingual education partnership with San Antonio ISD | UTSA Today | UTSA
    Bilingual Education

    UTSA hires leader to build bilingual education partnership with San Antonio ISD | UTSA Today | UTSA

    UTSA’s Mission

    The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property – for Texas, the nation and the world.

    UTSA’s Vision

    To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

    UTSA’s Core Values

    We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

    UTSA’S Destinations

    UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

    Our Commitment to Inclusivity

    The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.

  • Indianapolis district’s bilingual programs multiply
    Bilingual Education

    Indianapolis district’s bilingual programs multiply

    A group of first and second graders sat cross-legged on a rug, sounding out words on the flash cards their teacher was presenting at the front of the classroom.

    “En-ton-ces,” they pronounced in unison. “Bi-en.”

    Unlike the other students in the school that day who spoke, read, and wrote in English, this group was working on their Spanish reading skills. They were attending the last day of a dual-language summer school program in Lawrence Township, one component of the robust Spanish-language support system the district has implemented to serve a growing Hispanic population.

    Since the 2010-11 school year, Hispanic enrollment at Lawrence has more than doubled, part of an uptick in Hispanic residents across the country that has resulted in a boom of Indianapolis Hispanic students. Across the city’s 11 school districts, Hispanic enrollment has shot up nearly 59% in the past decade, and now more than 20% of all students are Hispanic.

    To support this community, Lawrence Township has gone all in on dual language, which relies on the theory that teaching young students primarily in their first language will help them learn English more quickly. The district has added dual-language programs to seven schools, including Harrison Hill, in the past five years.

    “This is an amazing school,” said Sonia Torres, a Harrison Hill parent whose kids are enrolled in the dual-language program. “They help my daughter a lot.”

    Lawrence is an outlier among Indianapolis districts, most of which offer little or no dual-language instruction, instead relying on traditional methods of English immersion and pulling students out of class for English tutoring. But while each school has its own approach to teaching Spanish speakers, they share one thing in common: severe academic gaps for Hispanic students and English learners.

    Just 7.4% of Lawrence English learners in grades 3-8 passed the English and math portions of the ILEARN exam in 2019, compared with 31% of non-English learners. Racial gaps are also apparent — Hispanic students trailed their white classmates by 35 percentage points on the tests.

    As Indianapolis’ Hispanic population growth shows little sign of slowing, schools face an important question: How should they adjust curriculum and culture to best serve all students and to address learning gaps?

    The case for bilingual instruction

    Patricia Gándara, an education professor at UCLA, said new research in the past five years has decisively found bilingual education to be more effective than traditional English immersion for teaching English.

    “It is just so beneficial in so many ways,” Gándara said. “It just sends a really strong message that what you know in your native language is important.”

    Gándara said two-way dual-language programs, which place native English speakers and English learners in the same classroom where they all learn both languages, have been found to be the most effective. Bilingual programs that teach students in their native language first, slowly phasing in English as they age, are also more effective than English immersion, she said.

    She said it would be a mistake for schools not to provide as much dual-language programming as they can.

    In light of this research, Lawrence Township launched additional dual-language programs for English learners at six elementary schools five years ago, and added a second two-way program the next year.

    The district already had a popular two-way dual-language immersion program at Forest Glen Elementary. The new schools would only enroll Spanish speakers, providing Spanish-speaking teachers to instruct them primarily in their first language for the first few years. The district started with kindergarten and first grade classes, then added one grade level per year.

    About 15% of Lawrence’s English learners, most of whom are Hispanic, are enrolled in dual-language classrooms, according to the district. The programs established in 2016 have just started to add fifth graders, and as students progress, they are outperforming their peers in English immersion on the ILEARN and other benchmark tests, said Chief Academic Officer Troy Knoderer.

    “For us, that means we need to continue growing our dual-language program, because we’re seeing better results,” Knoderer said.

    Eventually, he said the district hopes to offer dual language to all English learners. This is the district’s primary strategy for addressing its pervasive academic gaps for English learners.

    But because of the difficulty in hiring bilingual staff, it could take a while to fully expand the program.

    Obstacles for bilingual classrooms

    To teach Spanish-speaking students in their native language, you need teachers who can speak Spanish. In Indiana, qualified bilingual teachers are rare.

    As the state faces a critical teacher shortage, most school districts have had trouble filling job openings. Add on the additional resume requirement of bilingualism, and finding qualified candidates becomes even harder.

    Erika Tran, language program coordinator at Lawrence, said it’s difficult to attract dual-language teachers to Indiana, especially because more than a dozen programs across the state compete for the same tiny pool of candidates.

    Tran said the district prefers to hire Hispanic teachers, both because teachers in the bilingual program need a strong grasp of Spanish, and because the district wants the ethnicity of the teachers to reflect the identities of students.

    Claudia Gambetta poses in front of a white board in her classroom, wearing a red checkered dress and smiling directly at the camera.

    Claudia Gambetta, a bilingual teacher, poses in her classroom at Harrison Hill Elementary School in Lawrence Township. Qualified dual-language teachers like Gambetta are rare in Indiana, which faces a critical teacher shortage that makes it particularly difficult to find bilingual staff.
    Carson TerBush / Chalkbeat

    She said the district has gone so far as to recruit educators directly from Spain and Puerto Rico through state-sponsored programs. None of the district’s dual-language teachers are from Indiana, which has a particular lack of Hispanic educators.

    Because of these challenges and others, even administrators who believe bilingual education would benefit students may hesitate to start dual-language programs.

    Wayne Township Schools have seen a 77% increase in Hispanic enrollment since 2011. To serve this growing group of Spanish-speaking students, the district has doubled down on traditional English immersion.

    As in Lawrence, Wayne English learners have very low ILEARN scores — just 10% were proficient on the English and math sections in 2019. The students aren’t as far behind their non-English learning counterparts, who scored significantly worse than Lawrence’s — only 26% passed both tests.

    Denita Harris, former English learner curriculum coordinator at Wayne Township Schools, said she knows bilingual education is more beneficial for students than the district’s current model. But even so, bilingual programs at Wayne are not going to happen anytime soon for financial reasons.

    “You have to think about, how is this sustainable?” Harris said. “You can start something, and it fizzles out in a year or two. The reality is, when we do something, we want to do it well.”

    Harris said while the state department of education offers some grants to support dual-language programs, the money is short term. To launch a quality program, Wayne would have to commit to finding enough teachers to eventually build a K-12 program, she said. The enormity of these changes has discouraged administrators from pursuing dual-language instruction.

    The facade of Harrison Hill Elementary School, a red brick building with a green roof.

    Carson TerBush / Chalkbeat

    Gándara, the UCLA professor, acknowledged that bilingual education isn’t a priority for many schools.

    “We could certainly produce the teachers that we need — if we were serious about it,” she said.

    She said schools and universities need to tap into pools of bilingual students and encourage them to pursue teaching. In addition, she said schools should offer bilingual students stipends to incentivize them to take jobs.

    “It’s a bigger job than the regular teaching classroom,” she said. “We need to honor the fact that they bring special skills.”

    Will dual language close academic gaps?

    Indianapolis schools’ test scores show pervasive academic gaps for English learners and Hispanic students. But Gándara said these scores offer a narrow view of success for language programs.

    She said to accurately measure English learners’ grasp of content, especially before third or fourth grade, standardized tests should assess them in their native language. Because the existing tests all measure English proficiency, they prevent students from showing what they actually know.

    “When you put kids in an English-only environment, nobody tests them to see what they actually know,” Gándara said. “The assumption is that they’re blank slates, we have to start from zero, because you don’t speak English. But these children know a lot of things.”

    Gándara added that English learners are first and foremost children of immigrants. In addition to their lack of English fluency, they are more likely to be low-income, their parents are less likely to know how the U.S. education system works, and especially in the pandemic, they were less likely to have parents working from home and assisting with virtual learning — all factors contributing to lower test scores.

    Rather than focusing on composite standardized test scores, Gándara suggested other measures, like testing younger bilingual students in their first language and monitoring whether students’ English test scores improve over time.

    Regardless of test scores, Sonia Torres, the Harrison Hill parent, said she loves how Lawrence’s dual-language program has helped her fourth grade daughter learn English while maintaining Spanish fluency. Her son is going into first grade this year, and will also enter a bilingual classroom.

    “I feel like they’re going to have a better future,” Torres said. “They’re going to do a great job.”

  • Illinois bilingual education teacher elected to NEA’s Executive Committee
    Bilingual Education

    Illinois bilingual education teacher elected to NEA’s Executive Committee

    A bilingual education teacher from Frankfort, Ill., was elected to serve on NEA’s Executive Committee, the highest-level governing body that oversees and helps establish policy for the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union with more than 3 million members. Gladys Fátima Márquez, who currently serves as chair of the NEA Hispanic Caucus, was elected by secret ballot by delegates attending NEA’s virtual Representative Assembly for a three-year term that begins September 1.

    “The core value that has echoed in all of my work from the local level to the state and national levels…is to protect students and communities that have fallen victim to unjust systems of oppression that systemically and systematically disenfranchise our students,” said Márquez in her virtual address to RA delegates. “My commitment is to doing everything that I can to protecting our students, our communities, and our profession.”

    Márquez has helped to organize nationwide events to raise awareness about the plight of immigrants in America with “Teach-Ins” at immigration detention centers, humanitarian missions to shelters at the border, and massive marches in protest of the national policy leading to the separation of immigrant families and the incarceration of immigrant children.

    “I want my students to believe in themselves. I want them to see themselves the way that I see them,” Márquez said in an Emmy-nominated film that spotlighted her work as a teacher in Chicagoland. “I see greatness every time I look into my students’ faces. When I hear them debate issues, when I see where their heart is, I feel like there’s hope…And as teachers, it’s our responsibility to develop those lasting relationships with students because it’s those relationships that will help them succeed. Isn’t that what it is all about at the end of the day? That all your students have a shot at the American dream?”

    Pursuing the American dream helps fuel Márquez’s education advocacy work, including lobbying Congress to advance issues that support public education. She also has worked with national organizations to help pass a clean DREAM Act and protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Marquez is a dedicated activist, organizer, and community advocate, with a track record of public service that attests to her commitment to protect public education.

    “No matter where we live, where we come from, what we look like or which language we speak, we all have the right to the American dream. Gladys knows just how much stronger we all are when we draw from our diverse and vibrant population,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “She also understands that educators are, many times, at the forefront in advocating for a future that works for all of us — without exceptions. When RA delegates elected Gladys to the NEA Executive Committee, they ensured that educators, students, families, and our communities will have a powerful and vocal advocate at NEA’s decision-making table.”

    During her virtual address to RA fellow delegates, Márquez talked about how she started her 24-year education career as an education support professional, working as a school translator and a parent liaison. She later pursued her dream to become a classroom teacher after getting involved with the Illinois chapter of NEA’s Aspiring Educators program. For the last two decades, Márquez has taught English learners from kindergarten through adult education programs, and her professional experiences have helped to shape the educator and leader she is today.

    “We have to be able to engage in courageous conversations about the social or racial inequities that plague many of our educational institutions and our profession as a whole,” added Márquez. “Social action is part of who we are. We have to stand up for ourselves because if not, we are going to be helping perpetuate the systems that are oppressing our students, and that’s not ok.”

    Márquez received her bachelor’s degree in English/language arts education in 2000, Master of Arts in the field of secondary school administration in 2006, and last year completed her Doctor of Education in multi- and interdisciplinary studies, all from Governors State University. The NEA Executive Committee consists of nine members — three executive officers and six members elected at-large by nearly 8,000 delegates attending the NEA RA, which was held virtually this year out of an abundance of caution because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The committee is responsible for general policy and interests of NEA and acts for the NEA Board of Directors in between its four regularly scheduled meetings each year.

  • Learning English: Defenders of bilingual education in Spain: ‘It’s a mistake to think that students will speak English like they do Spanish’ | Society
    Bilingual Education

    Learning English: Defenders of bilingual education in Spain: ‘It’s a mistake to think that students will speak English like they do Spanish’ | Society

    In recent years, an educational trend has gained new traction, one that holds that a pure British accent – the Queen’s English – no longer has to be the one that prevails when teaching, learning or using English to communicate. This trend, known as ELF (English as a lingua franca), favors a more neutral pronunciation where the goal is to get the message across.

    “The important thing now is being able to communicate; the purity of the accent is a thing of the past,” holds María Luisa Pérez, a professor of English studies at Jaén University and a leading researcher on this issue.

    This line of thinking bears a relationship to the debate on whether the bilingual Spanish-English education model used in some public schools in Spain is really up to par, considering that some regions – which have devolved powers over education – ask teachers for a B2 level, indicating fluency but not proficiency as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). Other regions require teachers to prove a C1 level, for proficient users of the language.

    In recent years, nearly 90 centers have dropped out of the bilingual education system, viewing it as ineffective. But Pérez, just like other experts, warns that many people simply have the wrong idea of what a bilingual model really does. “It’s a mistake to think that children will end up speaking English just like they speak Spanish; the goal is for them to achieve a functional level that will let them communicate and work in the future,” she explains.

    Spain’s first English-Spanish bilingual program for public schools was introduced in 1996 as a joint initiative of the Spanish Education Ministry and the British Council. The goal was for students to become “fluent” in English, considered “decisive to favor employment prospects and professional ambitions.” Starting in the year 2000, regional governments began to launch their bilingual programs, and the number of enrolled students has grown 498% in a decade.

    At no point was it ever claimed that students would end up speaking perfect English, although that continues to be the hope of many families who sign up their children for these programs. So says David Marsh, who back in the 1990s (before the bilingual model was introduced) coordinated a team of psychologists, educators and scientists to analyze why, after eight years of studies at schools in various European countries, graduating students were barely able to put together a single sentence in English.

    False expectations

    Marsh and his team detected that the major problem was the methodology used at centers, based on memorizing and repeating concepts, with critical thinking relegated to a secondary role. Their solution was a system called CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), which was included in the action plan to promote linguistic diversity launched by the European Commission between 2004 and 2006, and which lies at the heart of today’s bilingual model.

    This system defended learning a new language through the study of other subject matter such as maths, geography and history. But there was a limit: the student would never actually speak the second language as well as their native one. “The word bilingual is dangerous and it creates false expectations,” says Marsh. “Families think that if they take their children to a bilingual school, they will learn another language in a short space of time, but the real goal is for Europeans to be able to communicate at a basic level.”

    Administrators at the Isaac Albéniz secondary school in Leganés (Madrid) defend the bilingual model and report being pleased with the results. “Getting students to speak perfect English is impossible, we the teachers are not native-like, but we know enough to teach secondary school kids,” says Inmaculada Alonso, head of studies at the school and herself an English teacher. Alonso was a member of a panel that assessed teachers’ ability to be part of the bilingual program in the Madrid region, which requires a C1 level. “In the oral test, which is around 15 minutes, we made them talk about their life, their favorite movies…we didn’t let just anyone pass,” she says.

    Her colleague Óscar García, another school administrator, is convinced that accent plays a secondary role. “Some of them [students] have better pronunciation than others, but what’s really improved is their understanding, the way they follow the classes… we’re on the right track.” he says.

    However, there are many Spanish teachers who believe that under the current system, students are neither learning English properly nor grasping the content that’s being taught in that language – in primary school, natural and social sciences as well as arts and crafts; in secondary school, 40% of courses including geography, history, physics, chemistry and biology.

    But there are studies showing that performance in English has improved, while remaining stable in other subjects taught in that language. In 2018, the universities of Jaén and Córdoba published the Mon-CLIL report after working with a sample of 2,245 students at 43 public centers, three private ones and eight concertados (semi-private) in the regions of Andalusia, Extremadura and the Canary Islands. This report showed that children in bilingual programs scored 1.23 points higher in English than their peers in monolingual programs at the primary level, and 2.4 points higher at the secondary level. But they also performed 0.46 points better on Spanish at the primary level, and one point higher at the secondary level. As for other content taught in English, kids in their fourth year of secondary education scored 0.50 points higher than students in non-bilingual programs.

    The same report also underscored the problems with training teachers in bilingual programs, including a lack of familiarity with the concept of CLIL, which theoretically lies at the heart of the new methodology. Another weak point was the teachers’ low skills when the time came to communicate effectively in English with their students in class.

    “Every man for himself”

    Pedro, a 36-year-old interim teacher at a bilingual secondary school in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid), has never heard of CLIL. “Nobody has told me how I should teach my class; my understanding is that it falls within our academic freedom. The only thing they made quite clear is that classes had to be taught 100% in English and that tests have to be administered in English as well.” In his view, the situation could well be summarized as “every man for himself.” He obtained the C1 certificate during a year he spent at Oxford and teaching in English is not a problem for him, but he has received no specific training in methodology. No regional government requires this in order to teach in a bilingual program.

    Enrique Lafuente, who teaches a master’s degree in teacher training at Zaragoza University and has a degree in English studies, believes that the biggest problem lies in the fact that bilingual programs were launched without previously providing sufficient, extensive teacher training. “It’s not just about translating a textbook into English and teaching the class just like you would in Spanish,” he notes. “The CLIL involves a specific methodological change. Before starting on a new subject, you ask students what they already know and make them share it out loud with their peers. This creates a preliminary reflection as well as stimulating motivation.”

    The teachers should have basic knowledge of how a new language is learned, and help students produce texts as well as hold conversations in that language. “Teachers should provide the scaffolding, text structures that can be imitated in order to produce work of a certain quality… the science teacher must be aware of the student’s linguistic needs.”

    The program created by the Education Ministry and the British Council, with 147 participating public schools in 10 regions of Spain, theoretically includes something called a linguistic advisor, who serves as a coordinator of sorts and is required to have experience in the Anglo education system, preferably with field experience in the United Kingdom. This individual is in charge of conveying educational strategies to the teaching staff, and planning an integrated curriculum combining the Spanish coursework with elements of the British system. But this role does not in fact exist in Spain’s public bilingual schools – instead, there is a coordinator who is typically the school teacher with the strongest English skills.

    English version by Susana Urra.

  • Bilingual special education | UDaily
    Bilingual Education

    Bilingual special education | UDaily

    Q: How would you explain your work to a fifth grader or someone’s grandparent?

    Lewis: My work is to promote and encourage equitable bilingualism and biliteracy programs that serve all kinds of students. The current work will be used to eventually redesign and improve teacher preparation programs that are geared towards serving culturally and linguistically diverse students. In my opinion, the first step would be to have all teacher preparation programs be dual certified with special education because every teacher, regardless of the type of classroom they serve (inclusion, pull out, or regular) can benefit from the knowledge that special education courses provide. From there I believe that we can work toward including and promoting the bilingual and biliteracy component of teacher preparation programs. 

    Q: How does this experience align with your broader professional goals?

    Lewis: Eventually, I would like to be the Secretary of Education for the United States of America. The work that I do now is the foundation that I am laying to influence educational policy, and I expect to be a part of the movement that encourages the U.S. to take a more global approach as it relates to education. Many other countries, such as Germany and Spain, have multilingual populations where students learn other languages as early as the first grade. I would like to assist universities to create effective teacher preparation programs that can support the needs of current and future students of all cultures and capabilities. In the near term, I want to be a bilingual special education teacher for either second or third grade. Bilingualism and biliteracy for Spanish and English is the educational environment that I expect to begin in, but I recognize there is a need for bilingual teachers to support students who speak other languages, such as Filipino Tagalog and Haitian Creole.

    Q: What do you do when you are not doing research?

    Lewis: When I’m not doing research, I am most definitely singing — at church where I also play piano or at my job at the Stone Balloon where I serve a multitude of customers.

    Q: What advice would you give to your fellow students who may be considering or are planning to pursue undergraduate research?

    Lewis: Trust what you know about your field. The right people will guide you and encourage you, and you will find yourself. Don’t let people who don’t see your vision discourage you.

    For Future Researchers

    Blue Hens with big ideas will find ample opportunity to explore them with the help of the Undergraduate Research Program (URP).

    A hallmark of any college experience, research is the process that leads to the creation of knowledge. It begins with a question and ends in a new understanding of the world around us.

    Those who participate directly benefit from an enriched learning experience. They enjoy meaningful mentorship and develop critical leadership and communication skills. In addition, undergraduate researchers often earn higher GPAs and have greater success after graduation.

    To explore more, attend the virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium on Thursday, Aug. 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Then, get started on your own experience by scheduling a consultation with URP staff.

    Questions? Contact [email protected]