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Bilingual Education: Enhancing Teachers Quality Essay

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Updated: Nov 6th, 2021

Introduction

A bilingual is an individual who can with ease speak, read and write in a language other than his or her original one. It is that status of one being proficient in an extra one language. Bilingual education therefore can be referred to as the attempt by a teacher or an educator to aid a person to become conversant with that extra language. Language forms the basis of communication hence the latter cannot be effective unless the parties involved at one particular time have full knowledge of the language in use. The psychosocial factors and the political factors often find individuals in places other than their native land or rather their countries of origin. As a result, cultures across the world are becoming more and more diversified, linguistic aspect is becoming more and more complicated and thus arousing the need for knowledge of an extra language.

In America for instance, the large number of emigrants coming into the country every other day is an affirmation of this. More so, the number of English language learners in the urban classes is increasing in such a rate that the number of bilingual teachers has to be increased in ten fold. Numerically, the number of students with English language deficiency in urban classrooms is almost thrice compared to the number of such students else where in the United States i.e. they represent a majority 35.4% relative to the 13.5% elsewhere(darder,1997) Due to the complex nature and ever increasing need for bilingual studies, adequate and well prepared teachers need to be familiar with both English and foreign language for them to be in a position to promote unbiased learning environment for the ELL and LEP (Ricento and hornberg,1996). In this paper therefore, I look at the inadequacies of bilingual educators in meet the cultural diversity demand in promoting an equitable learning environment for non English speaking students. It also reviews possible strategies to better the teachers’ ability in efficiently meeting the needs for English language learners (ELL).

The inadequacies of bilingual education teachers

The foreign emigrants who are particularly the Latinos and Asian Americans form the largest language minority group with acute limitation in the knowledge in English. Their population in many states of United States has amazingly increased in the recent past (Mercado 2000). According to the United States department of education, almost 90 percent of foreigners who had moved in to the United States were from non- English speaking countries. Statistics also noted that among these immigrants, there were school going children who were classified as LEP (limited English proficient) children. The children automatically become English language learners in bilingual education classes, once they join United States schools. To help these minorities language groups live productively in the country, bilingual education is therefore inevitable. However, it has not been given its due attention over the years. But with the increasing diversity in culture and language integration, it has started to curve its place in United States (John Tierney, 2005 New York Times).

According to Darder (1997), quality and sufficient bilingual teachers are the fundamental requirement for successful creation impartial schooling atmosphere for the English language learners who form the minority language quota in the country. The position and the standing of the ELL and the LEP learners largely depend on the bilingual teachers they are under and they (teachers) can make them feel recognized and be viewed from a different perspective (Ricento and Hornberg, 1996.). A research carried out in Texas found out that there was not only a deficiency of bilingual teachers, but also that the available ones had not been adequately prepared to meet the complex demands of the minority focus group (Belinda, Susan and bertha, 2003, university of Toronto Texas, Critical Need For Bilingual Education Teachers). The low number of bilingual educators was a great hindrance to the achievement of equitable learning environment for the English language learners and those with limited English language proficiency. Such an environment is of paramount importance so as to bring them at par with the English speaking counterparts.

Enhancing bilingual teachers quality

Earlier, the greater emphasis was placed on solving the problem of bilingual teachers’ shortage. Quality and level of preparedness was not a priority. The traditional methods that were used to recruit the staff did not incorporate the quality factor; neither did it meet its primary goal of recruiting adequate staff. Then teachers who could speak an extra language or the English dialect teachers who had gone through 150 hours learning of the foreign language were hired to be tutors in the bilingual education class. In a more desperate move to fill the acute shortage, native from countries believed to speak the extra language were brought on board to teach in the bilingual class (World Daily 1997). Such move greatly compromised the quality of the bilingual teachers on top of failing to address the issue of the staff inadequacy. Such teachers were hardly ready for the adjustment and meet the complex demands for the urban class they were entrusted to teach (Fix & Zimmerman, 1999). The rush to acquire bilingual educators was particularly inappropriate and did not take into account whether the teachers had both cultural and linguistic skills (Guerrero 1997-99). With the rapid growth in population of ELL and LEP students in the urban classes, a more elaborate strategy need to be adopted to not only concentrate filling vacancy but also to ensure that the teacher handed the work have the quality and skills to meet the demand of these classes. The bilingual teachers’ preparation programs (available then) greatly limited the professionals chance to develop their language proficiency. This even complicated the ability to promote efficiency in the bilingual classrooms (Floress, 1999).

Alternatives to the traditional methods of hiring bilingual teachers were developed. The national teachers’ preparation methods were also modified to make sure that the bilingual teacher’s quality improved.

Make- your- own strategy

Texas education agency (TEA), 1993, advocated for a strategy that involved identification of talents from insider of the community and then train them to provide the required bilingual teachers. The method involves tapping such talents right from the high school and college. In this program, the students are engaged to serve as aids to the already practicing teachers. According to Texas education board 1993, this strategy also involved the tapping and training of the local professional already teaching or having interest to teach in the bilingual classrooms. The objective was to ensure a steady and reliable source of quality bilingual teachers. Carried in the collaboration of teachers’ preparation programs and the districts, they ensure that the identified students successfully complete their degrees and acquire the relevant certification, after which they are retained as bilingual teachers. In addition, the candidates are given all round support, thus providing them with the best environment possible. This program popularly known as get-your-own strategy provides an efficient and reliable source of high quality bilingual teachers since the trainees are retained in the schools they were serving.

However, critics of this strategy (Genzuk and Baca,1998) argues that irrespective of its success in breeding highly qualified bilingual teachers, it was not able to produce enough teachers to adequately meet the target. In 1993, according to the Texas education agency (TEA), the strategy contributed less than 1% workers to the bilingual workforce basket in Texas. The strategy is indeed a better option than competing for the few available across Texas and provided a reliable source of quality, better and well prepared bilingual teachers.

The Normalitas and Paraprofessionals Approach

An alternative certification program was also used to recruit better bilingual teachers in Texas. According to the Texas education board (TEB) 2000, all the new bilingual teachers employed within the year were recruited using the CPA strategy. It involved recruitment of foreigners especially from Mexico who were seemingly qualified as bilingual tutors. This strategy came with greater diversification in the bilingual classrooms (Petrov et al, 1999). According to Verisco De Geraa, et al, 1999, this strategy was challenging because of the cultural differences. The strategy therefore could be effective if the present barriers were carefully bridged. It forms a fertile ground for breeding high quality bilingual teachers. The use of the foreigners and the local paraprofessionals create diversity that is very strategic. It brings together two groups with well curved art in specific areas –paraprofessionals have advanced knowledge in the local culture and language whereas the foreigners (Normalitas) have good knowledge in Spanish. The two skillful quotas will contest each others persistent approach towards bilingual tutoring (Kerry. J Wenger et al, 2004)

Enhancing Teachers’ Bilingual Proficiency

To make better bilingual teachers, the teachers should be in a position to use both the English language as well as the second language. Quality bilingual teachers should be equally proficient and competent in the use of both languages. Initially it was expected that the bilingual education teachers will use both English and the other language on equal basis. However, it is disillusioning to find that some teacher rarely use English while teaching the ELLs (John Tierney, New York Times, 1996). A research by Cooper found out that in order for bilingual teachers to effectively promote equitable erudition atmosphere for the linguistic minority groups, they must be very good in both the language that they were teaching and the original language of the English language learners (ELL). She therefore recommended training and offering of space to the teachers to acquire the desired level of proficiency in the languages as a mean to make them better.

The reading of culturally related text can also better the bilingual learning environment. In order For teachers to be effective and efficient in promoting equitable learning environment in bilingual classes, they should employ the use of culturally related material by the ELL. This will enable the students to appreciate their mother culture and language, and increase their craving to learn the other language/s (Yvonne & David, 2004). According to the latter, linking the students to the culturally relevant literature, enhances their knowledge on diverse culture. This strategy works marvelously in improving the learning condition for the ELL students.

Mentoring

Mentoring the bilingual teachers also can achieve massive results in bettering the educators. Mentoring means the counseling or guiding the bilingual educators in an attempt to equip them with further skills and knowledge that directly enhance their efficiency in meeting the demand of English language learners; ELL (Levinson et al,1998). According to Calderon (1994) successful mentoring of bilingual educators should be embedded on a clear appreciation that teaching is a developing and established procedure.

Although mentoring of bilingual teaching professionals has no clear history, all evidences shows that it can be an effective strategy in enhancing the quality of this staff. It will offer high quality advancement, sustenance and specific training thus enhancing their success in promoting favorable learning environment for ELLs. Specifically, mentors will enhance teachers’ skills in teaching the first and second languages, most effective methods to teach understanding and calligraphy in two languages and teaching content in cozy English languages (Maria & Lin, 1995). According to the latter mentoring can be a sure step to achieving the required equity in the English learning classes. The experienced bilingual teachers and professional must therefore join hands with the novices since the latter need guidance and support to enable them remain committed and effective in their practice. Furthermore, it should be extended to the normal teachers since they also interact with the English language learners or the LEPs. This will enable the teachers, both bilingual and for normal education to cooperate in promoting equitable learning environment for students from non English speaking backgrounds and the others.

References

  1. Belinda B Et Al (2004), The Critical Need For Bilingual Education Teachers: The Potentiality Of Normalitas And Paraprofessionals. University of Texas: Antonio.
  2. Bilingual Education Article: A Parents’ Concern (2005).
  3. Cooper N (2003), Are Our Teachers Prepared? A Look at Teacher Preparation and the Future of Limited English Proficient Students; Abilene Christian university.
  4. Kerri J et al (2004) , University of Vancouver; Washington. Web.
  5. Maria E.and Lin Goodwin (1995), Mentoring Bilingual Teachers: Occasional Paper in Bilingual Education: No 12.
  6. Web.
  7. Yvonne Freeman and Freeman David (2004), Connecting Students to Culturally Relevant Texts: A National Council of Teachers of English Publication: Texas.
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