Bilingual Boom

Connie K. Ho highlights funding resources to meet the growing demand for dual-language educators

As more research comes out on the benefits of bilingual education, teachers fluent in languages other than English are in demand like never before. Dual-language educators across the country are trying a different approach, known as two-way immersion: training for non-English speakers — and English speakers. Two-way immersion has several forms, but generally means students learn their core subjects in two languages — usually English and a secondary language.

There are about 800 such programs in schools across the nation. Most are Spanish and English programs, but a growing number include Chinese, French, and Korean. Utah has been at the forefront of this growth over the past few years under Republican governor and former GOP presidential nominee hopeful Jon Huntsman, who has tripled the number of dual language programs since 2008.

Next year, the state expects to have 76 such programs. All of the instruction starts in kindergarten or first grade, and the plan for these programs was developed and supported at a state level.

Delaware has recently partnered with Utah to build similar programs.

On the other side of the country, in San Diego County, the number of dual-language programs in the county has skyrocketed from nine in 2000 to 48 today.

The boom in dual-language schools is meeting increasing demands of parents who want their children prepared for top colleges, promising careers, and a global society.

To prepare teachers for the new face of bilingual education, there are some attractive funding opportunities including:
The California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) Teachership awards $2,000 to students who are working towards a bilingual teaching credential. To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be members of CABE, be enrolled in a college or university with a degree that will lead to a bilingual education credential and have experience working in an educational setting. Applicants must be fluent in English and another language that is used as a medium of instruction.

Idaho offers scholarships to students wanting to teach in both English and Spanish. Boise State University (BSU) offers a “Grow Your Own Scholarship” to community college students who enroll in or transfer to BSU’s Department of Bilingual Education/ESL. The scholarship funds 90 percent of full or part-time tuition. Applicants must have experience volunteering or working in an Idaho public school, Head Start, or a similar program that assists English-language learners, and be fluent in both Spanish and English.
Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN) in Los Angeles offers the Bilingual Horizontal Scholarship for prospective teachers who are fluent in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, or Hmong. Applicants must enroll in a bilingual authorization program in math, science, or English at a California state university. Scholarship recipients must intend to teach in California public schools and maintain a satisfactory GPA. This funding opportunity can also cover materials, textbooks, and other expenses.

The College Board offers Chinese teachers funding to attend a summer institute in China sponsored by the Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters. The Confucius Institutes and Classrooms Program also provides seed grants to expand schools’ Chinese language and culture programs.

For instructors who specialize in Arabic, Michigan State University (MSU) offers teacher training to teach Arabic through the Startalk program during the summer. MSU can offer $1,000 to teachers who are accepted into the program. All components of the program are covered and travel scholarships are available for up to three teachers from out of state. MSU also has a credentialing program available for those who are interested in teaching Arabic as a second language.

“With globalism, you can’t just depend on knowing your own language. You need to communicate with other languages proficiently,” commented Wafa Hassan, director of the Startalk teacher training program at MSU. “Research shows that if you know more than one language, you become more alert cognitively and it’s good for student development.”

Connie K. Ho is project editor for Language Magazine.