This monograph addresses a long-ignored issue in bilingual education, the academic Spanish language proficiency of bilingual education teachers. The author draws on relevant literature and research and on personal experiences to discuss this dimension of bilingual education.
Section I indicates that stakeholders agree that the teacher’s level of proficiency is important and related to student achievement. However, many bilingual education teachers do not have an adequate level of proficiency to fully serve the students.
Section II reviews the language standards for teacher language proficiency mandated by the five states with the highest concentrations of limited-English-proficient (LEP) students. An important conclusion is that among these states, there is little consensus regarding what the standards should be.
Section III describes the different language proficiency tests used by these five states to ensure that teachers are adequately proficient to provide instruction in Spanish. There appears to be incongruence between what is mandated by some of these states and what is contained in their tests. Further, very little is known about the psychometric qualities of these tests.
Section IV reviews the context within which prospective bilingual education teachers must function as they develop their Spanish language proficiency, beginning from infancy. Schooling, even within bilingual programs, appears to promote a subtractive sociolinguistic milieu. Stated differently, prospective bilingual education teachers in the United States lack proficiency because the educational infrastructure does very little to promote academic Spanish.
The final section of the monograph sketches out a preliminary plan of action and set of policy recommendations. The monograph is an invitation to begin a painful yet critical discussion on these inter-related issues that clearly impact the quality of bilingual education in the United States.
This publication was prepared by the Center for Bilingual Education and Research, College of Education, Arizona State University as a resource for Project Alianza – a consortium of organizations and universities working to improve preparation programs for bilingual education teachers. Project Alianza is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation through a collaboration of Intercultural Development Research Association and the Mexican and American Solidarity Foundation.
Available online only (free). (IDRA and Arizona State University; No ISBN; Paperback; 64 Pages; 1999).