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Lynch School Program to Certify Bilingual Educators

TDLL program will be first of its kind in the state

(L-R) Lynch School of Education faculty members Mariela Paez, Anne Homza, Patrick Proctor and Maria Brisk, who helped create the Teaching Dual Language Learners (TDLL) Certificate Program. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: July 17, 2014

The Lynch School of Education will launch a program in September to certify bilingual education teachers who work in schools offering dual-language immersion classes where English- and Spanish-speaking students develop fluency in both languages across their academic subjects.

The Teaching Dual Language Learners (TDLL) Certificate Program is the first to be offered in Massachusetts and builds on the Lynch School’s strengths in bilingual education. The school already offers a certificate in Teaching English Language Learners (TELL) for educators in programs that offer English-only “sheltered” immersion instruction to students.

“Our goal is to establish the dual-language certificate as a natural extension of the TELL program, with a focus on preparing elementary teachers for teaching positions in dual-language immersion programs,” said Lynch School Associate Professor Patrick Proctor, an expert in English language learners, who developed the program with his Lynch School colleagues.

The new certificate is intended to support teachers and principals in an area largely devoid of state oversight since Massachusetts voters supported a 2002 ballot initiative that outlawed so-called “transitional” bilingual education programs, Proctor said. The vast majority of students who are learning English are now taught in “sheltered” immersion classes.

“The way the law is written, it is extremely difficult for schools to comply with the intent of the ballot measure,” said Proctor. “Additionally, bilingual education wasn’t completely eliminated with the passage of the ballot initiative. As a result, bilingual programs are alive, but I wouldn’t say they are well.”

Educators face a number of regulatory gray areas as a result of the limits imposed by the language of the initiative, Proctor said.

Through the new certificate, Lynch School faculty hope to set a standard for teacher preparation in the dual-language arena.
Dual-language – sometimes called two-way immersion – educational programs are bilingual learning environments in which teachers deliver instruction in English approximately half of the time, and the other half in a second target language, most commonly Spanish, Proctor said.

Dual-language schools serve about 7,600 elementary students statewide, Proctor said. But the success of two-way immersion in select districts has fueled a renewed interest among school leaders. During last year’s campaign, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the Boston Public Schools need to explore solutions – including dual-language programs – to better educate English language learners, who make up nearly one-third of the city’s 57,000 K-12 students.

Proctor said he expects a first group of about eight certificate candidates, each pursuing their master’s of education in elementary education at BC. In addition to course work, the certificate candidates will student-teach part-time during the fall semester, then full-time during the spring semester at dual-language schools in Framingham and Somerville.

Proctor and his Lynch School colleagues Professor Maria Brisk, Associate Professor Mariela Paez, Assistant Professor of Practice Anne Homza, Director of Practicum Experiences Fran Loftus and Assistant Director Melita Malley, and Director of Urban Outreach Initiatives Catherine Wong developed the certificate program.

Faculty in the Department of Teacher Education, Special Education and Curriculum and Instruction and the Lynch School’s Education Policy Committee approved the program.

“We’re trying to set BC up as a regional hub of support for teachers responsible for English Language learners in the broadest possible settings,” Proctor said.