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Professors prepare teachers for bilingual classrooms

November 13, 2013

  • Copyright, Steve Hambuchen

Portland’s linguistically diverse communities have grown rapidly in the last two decades, settling in suburbs like Woodburn and Forest Grove, which have large Russian and Spanish-speaking populations, respectively. To ensure Lewis & Clark’s teacher education students can serve the needs of today’s multilingual school communities, David Ward and Sara Exposito, both assistant professors of education, have designed dual language coursework for teacher candidates unlike any available in Oregon.

“We’re starting to engage students,” Ward said. “As soon as people hear about it they get excited.”

Starting in summer 2014, Exposito will teach ED 565 (Reading 1: Literacy Development) and ED 566 (Reading 2: Literacy Development in English) entirely in Spanish. Both are required courses for all aspiring teachers (Ward teaches the English versions of the courses). Exposito will craft an entrance exam for students interested in the Spanish immersion version of the classes. Strong speakers will give their “work sample,” a series of ten lessons required of teachers seeking a license, in Spanish.

Ward and Exposito expect the benefits of the Spanish-language option to ripple out into the regular program. When dual immersion students sit beside English-speaking classmates in general courses on culture, they will generate more nuanced discussions. “Our goal is to develop conversations,” Ward said, “discussions, thinking together among all the students.” Every year, Ward and Exposito hope to add another class, building from literacy into science and math courses, and attracting more students from diverse backgrounds.

Being bilingual, Exposito said, benefits anyone. “It makes you more culturally aware, and able to communicate with people and engage in really interesting conversations.”

More details about the dual language program will be available in spring 2014 on the Teacher Education website.


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