dual language immersion education’s pressing need: teachers

June 4, 2015


One of the most significant challenges facing dual language immersion programs is the shortage of teachers prepared to teach content in the immersion language, particularly as students mature and the cognitive requirements of their course work increase. This was a subject explored at some length by Dr. Diane J. Tedick during her series of presentations in West Michigan this Spring. Citing several program administrators, the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) has gone so far as to identify the need for qualified teachers as the number one challenge facing dual language immersion programs. We couldn’t agree more.

In a recent Education Week editorial, Caitlin Haugen and Emily Liebtag explained what the growth in dual language immersion programs means for language education advocates and program administrators:

High-quality instructional personnel who are proficient in the language of instruction are critical to the success of dual language programs. With a nearly ten-fold increase in programs, a rising demand among states and individual districts, and evidence supporting the benefits of dual language learning programs, it is also no surprise that the demand for educators available to teach in these programs has skyrocketed. Considering the lack of language study among teachers, supply of these teachers is not keeping up with the growing demand.

Regarding the varied approaches taken by states to fill the gap between demand and supply of qualified instructors, Haugen and Liebtag hit the nail on the head: “Teacher preparation programs in the U.S. must rise to the occasion.”

Even as we work with policy makers and university leadersto help shape teacher preparation programs and certification processes, addalingua is committed to helping instructors in our network of partner schools grow and succeed in the classroom. Each Summer, we host professional development trainings for teachers that bring together the best of dual language immersion research and practical classroom experience. (Our first professional development event for this year begins in just a few weeks, and we’ll be offering highlights here from these events.)

Haugen and Liebtag conclude, “an intentional focus on training and recruiting teachers for dual language programs—especially through teacher preparation programs—is a wise human capital investment for the 21st century.” That’s exactly right–but we’re in this together. A successful dual language immersion program is a team effort, and add.a.lingua is here to help administrators and teachers see the big picture (or the whole elephant as we like to say) while succeeding in the little things.

To learn more about what other states, universities, and school districts are doing to meet the demand for qualified dual language instructors, read on. If you’re interested learning how add.a.lingua can assist your school or district implement a quality dual language immersion program–including ongoing professional development for instructors–don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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