Teaching to Teach in English and Spanish

New program offers teachers opportunity to earn certificate to teach in growing number of dual-immersion classrooms

Shari Levy teaching a dual immersion class

Shari Levy, a UC Riverside Extension instructor, teaches a group in Extension's dual immersion teacher training program.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — The University of California, Riverside is launching a program this summer that will train teachers to teach in classrooms where students learn in English and Spanish.

The program is in response to the growing demand for teachers with a bilingual authorization, which allows them to teach in dual-immersion programs.

In addition, a recent change in state requirements allows teachers to earn their bilingual authorization by taking classes. Before, after finishing a teaching credential program, the only way to earn that authorization was by passing several exams. Passing rates on some of those exams were low, said Anne Jones, director of education at UC Riverside Extension.

Elizabeth Diaz De Mancilla gives a presentation

Elizabeth Diaz De Mancilla gives a presentation during UC Riverside’s dual immersion training class.

UC Riverside is initially partnering with the Jurupa Unified School District and then plans to expand to other districts. Up to 20 teachers will start classes at UC Riverside Extension on July 2.

The classes focus on the four domains of language, historical, legal and legislative contexts of bilingual education in the U.S. and effective approaches to understanding cross-cultural relationships and interaction.

The students will take four classes, splitting their time between online and in-the-classroom learning. This new curriculum model was developed by Lilian Jezik, a teacher education supervisor at UC Riverside, and Donna Saldin, a program coordinator at UC Riverside Extension.

UC Riverside is one of the first universities in the state to offer this option for the bilingual authorization certification.

Typically, dual immersion programs begin in kindergarten and first grade with a combination of Spanish-speaking and English-speaking students. As students move through the grade levels, English instruction time is increased and Spanish instruction is decreased until it’s half and half.

Research has shown that students in dual immersion programs are on par with or exceed the skills of their peers in English-only classrooms.

Dual immersion classes are offered by several school districts in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including Riverside Unified, Corona-Norco Unified, Colton Joint, Banning Unified, Beaumont Unified, Coachella Valley Unified, Lake Elsinore Unified and Jurupa Unified.

Jurupa Unified started its dual immersion program five years ago at Sunnyslope Elementary and last year at Stone Avenue Elementary, said Martha Gomez, director of language services and student programs at the district.

In total, about 400 students are enrolled and there is already a waiting list for students who will be entering kindergarten in 2015, Gomez said.

Pile of dual immersion books

Some of the books used in the dual immersion class.

The district initially starts two dual immersion kindergarten classes and then adds classes in the next grade level as that initial cohort moves up.

This coming school year, dual immersion will be offered in kindergarten through fifth-grade at Sunnyslope and kindergarten and first-grade at Stone Avenue. The goal is to continue expanding into middle and high school classrooms, Gomez said.

“We really want to support our teachers and provide a good global education program for all our students,” Gomez said.

A grant obtained by UC Riverside’s Graduate School of Education from the Wells Fargo Foundation will cover textbooks and other materials for the initial 20 teachers.

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Anne Jones
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E-mail: anne.jones@ucr.edu

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