In-Demand Endorsement Trains Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals

by Tom Hanlon  /   Oct 14, 2020

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The University of Illinois started an online program in fall 2019 for practicing teachers, and it has rapidly grown, serving a huge need for teachers statewide.

The need for a bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement has never been greater in the state of Illinois, and the College of Education is helping to fulfill that need through a fully online endorsement program for practicing teachers.

“The state of Illinois is seeing a number of emergent bilinguals,” says Sarah McCarthey, department head and professor in Curriculum & Instruction. “We feel it’s important to train, develop, and support as many teachers as we can.”

The growing need, coupled with the program’s high quality, has resulted in the number of students surging from 15 to 60 in the program’s first 12 months.

The College also offers a face-to-face endorsement program for preservice teachers, because “principals who are hiring our graduating students to teach more and more want this endorsement,” McCarthey adds.

Degree or Non-Degree Track

The courses for the online endorsement are offered in eight-week primarily synchronous sessions, McCarthey says. Practicing teachers can earn the endorsement separately or as part of any degree program they are pursuing and add the endorsement to their Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL).

Advantages of the UI’s Endorsement Program

There are a number of advantages to earning the endorsement through the University of Illinois, McCarthey notes. She specifically points out three.

  1. Course content
    “Students in our program learn best teaching practices in a number of different areas,” McCarthey says. “Beyond the language itself, they learn how to get to know the students and the community, they take courses on culture in the classroom and learn about how language is situated in culture, and in methods courses they learn key teaching strategies, how to best support multilingual students, and how to create engaging learning environments.” Through the courses, students learn research-based curricular and instructional strategies, including how to effectively integrate new media technologies for all students, regardless of language.

  2. Faculty strengths
    “Our faculty who teach into the courses are tenure-track faculty with research in the area of emergent bilinguals and dual immersion programs,” McCarthey notes. “They are bilingual themselves, and can easily connect their research to practice and strategies. And they have a lot of experience with online teaching. They know how to combine asynchronous teaching with synchronous teaching and really think about the assignments and experiences that are going to best prepare our students to teach children and youth.”

  3. Crossover between endorsement and concentration
    The coursework involved in the bilingual and ESL endorsement can also be applied to the new Bilingual-Bicultural concentration. “The courses count toward both the endorsement and the concentration, so their transcript will show they have the concentration at the same time they get their endorsement from the state of Illinois,” McCarthey says.

Seeing Bilinguals Students as Assets

“Our underlying philosophy, which all of our instructors share, is we see emergent bilinguals as assets,” McCarthey says. “We think about what they are bringing to the classroom, what we can learn from them. We want to build on what they bring from their home culture, their home language that we can capitalize on their assets.”

Go here to learn how to apply for the bilingual and ESL endorsement, as well as other College of Education programs.