The Bilingual/English as a Second Language/Multicultural practitioner program of study prepares students for leadership roles in second language education and multicultural education with options for pursuing Provisional and Standard Licensure in E.S.L. or Bilingual Education. Programs of study prepare practitioners to provide meaningful curriculum and learning environments for all students and to support learners of all ages who are acquiring additional languages in a variety of formal and nonformal settings.
The major focus of this program of study is to prepare practitioners to help learners acquire additional languages and literacies, while also supporting native language development and promoting interaction and communication. The goals of this practitioner area are to:
- explore the philosophic, historical, and theoretical foundations of multilingual/multicultural learning and teaching;
- develop curriculum and other instructional practices that are responsive to racial, cultural, linguistic, and social class differences and facilitate learning;
- envision educational practices that help to construct an equitable world and multicultural nation;
- prepare educational leaders to critique and challenge existing social structures and practices that exclude non-dominant groups and denigrate native language and
- prepare educational leaders to support learners acquiring additional languages
and cultures and developing native languages and cultures;
- prepare educational leaders to promote intercultural communication and cooperation across communities, schools, classrooms, and families.
The Bilingual/E.S.L./Multicultural program of study seeks to create a collaborative and inclusive learning community capable of supporting educators as they envision equitable ways of working with students of diverse backgrounds and second language learners in schools, communities, and the workplace.
The following ideas, practices, and structures guide faculty to create learning experiences at the University and guide students in the program of study to create learning experiences in their own classrooms and schools:
- Learner-Centered: Students are encouraged to take ownership of their own learning in many ways. Most importantly, in consultation with their faculty advisor, students develop their own programs of study so that their coursework and experiences reflect their own goals, the stated goals of the area, University degree requirements, and, if applicable, the Massachusetts Standards for E.S.L. or Bilingual Education.
- Knowledge-Based: Individual programs of study are grounded in the following bodies of knowledge, crossing both cultural and disciplinary boundaries: (a) the nature of diversity, pluralism and the ecology of power in institutions and society; (b) the history, policy, theory, and practice of multilingual/multicultural education; (c) the nature of language and communicating in pluralistic societies; (d) the nature of first and second language and language and literacy development; (e) the nature of teaching, learning, and assessment; (f) the nature of curriculum development, implementation, evaluation, and reform; (g) the use of materials and technology in curriculum development; (h) the nature of schools, programs, instruction, and assessment practices as they currently exist; (i) the nature of the student's personal and cultural perspectives and beliefs; and (j) knowledge generated during dialogue and praxis.
- Integration of Theory and Practice: Theory and practice are integrated. Courses and projects aim to provide authentic, holistic, and integrated opportunities to plan, teach, reflect, and diagnose, evaluate, advocate, research, and lead in the schools, community, and at the university. Through these opportunities, students refine and develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to create equitable and facilitative learning environments for their students and to provide leadership in helping others to do so.
- Multilevel and Multicultural: Courses and experiences are rich and complex enough to support learners from diverse backgrounds, with diverse goals and at varying stages of development. Learners at different levels of development participate in different but interdependent ways in the same courses and discussions with the needs of all being considered. In addition, students from the diverse cultures and perspectives represented in the program of study are important resources, helping us to better understand learning and teaching in a pluralistic world. All members of the program of study are at once researchers, teachers, and learners.
- Collaborative and Supported: Students and faculty work together to explore new ideas about learning and teaching, to use each other as resources, and to seek help and support. Students often work in groups and with faculty members on projects. They are also encouraged to participate in the community, professional organizations, and schools.
- Reflective and Action Oriented: Students and faculty engage in research and critical reflection on the form and substance of learning and teaching in order to understand the factors that impede change, imagine the possibilities for change, and take leadership roles in implementing and evaluating change. They critique their personal perspectives and practices, the structures and practices in schools and communities, and the practices and structures of the program of study itself. Faculty model the process by engaging in research in their own classrooms and invite doctoral students interested in education to do research in classes and in professional development sites.
The commitment to diversity of the Bilingual/E.S.L./Multicultural Education program of study is demonstrated through the nature and characteristics of students recruited. Master of Education applicants are carefully screened to determine the kinds of experiences they have had with diversity either as teachers or in other roles. We will look for candidates who themselves have skills and diverse experiences that can help promote an affirming and authentic environment in the area, including bilingualism/multilingualism, and biculturalism and experiences with cross-cultural learning. We are also interested in recruiting international students who are experienced language teachers in their own countries. Developing a cohort with a broad range of experiences and backgrounds is essential in creating the kind of learning environment that is essential for practitioners.
Concentration Coordinator: Laura Valdiviezo (Associate Professor)
Theresa V. Austin (Professor), Denise K. Ives (Associate Professor)