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Bilingual Students & the Need for Teachers

#elt bilingual ed education educational equity ell equity teachers Oct 05, 2023

The population of students in the United States working to learn English, is now 10% of public school students. This is an important number, because one of the major barriers to their proficiency is a lack of qualified educators to teach them.

First, a recent EdWeek article explains that, “not all states even have bilingual certification programs that would ensure teacher candidates can teach in multiple languages and engage in that level of pedagogy. This is a way our education department is not meeting the needs of 10% of it’s student body across the United States. While dual language immersion programs are seen as ideal, emerging bilinguals are unable to register and participate because of a lack of educators.

A new report from The Century Foundation identifies three issues as barriers to becoming certified teachers in this area:

  • financial hurdles
  • logistical complications
  • linguistic barriers

Second, not only do we need more educators with basic language acquisition skills, but we also need teacher preparation that goes beyond simple promotion of language proficiency. A recent study entitled “Integrating Creative and Critical Thinking Skills in English Language Teaching, explains that, “ELT (English Language Teaching) has shifted from promoting language proficiency to developing the whole person, including cognitive, social, and emotional aspects. Integrating creative and critical thinking skills into the classroom is essential for learners to solve problems, think independently, and adapt to a rapidly changing world.”

Considering the history of US schooling and how it was designed to disadvantage and oppress students from already-marginalized communities, this should be no surprise. What we do hope is that this current administration can pay attention to this problem, create an action plan to address it, and bring about the change that 10% of our nation’s kids in schools need. As our national demographics continues o change, the demand for dual language instruction is growing. Policymakers must invest in building up a bilingual teacher workforce to meet this need.

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