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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: November 11, 2002
Volume 38, Number 9

COE awarded grant for bilingual education

By Laurie Mellas-Ramirez

The United States Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition has awarded the UNM Multicultural Bilingual Education Center and Division of Language Literacy and Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education a $1.2 million, five-year grant to boost the number of educators skilled in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).

For educational assistants working in the central and northern part of the state, the grant will provide scholarships to pursue bachelor degrees with an emphasis in bilingual/ESL or American Indian education. The goal is to graduate 40-120 students by 2006.

Sylvia Celedon-Pattichis, Ph.D., assistant professor of bilingual education, will direct the program. Leroy Ortiz, Ph.D., is principal investigator.

Based on models, courses will focus on history and theory of bilingual education, first and second language development, methods and materials.

Scholarship applications will be reviewed beginning Nov. 22 and will be accepted until 35 part-time and five fulltime grants are awarded. Awards include tuition, fees, book and travel allowances and stipends.

A critical need exists in New Mexico for teachers trained to educate Hispanic and Native American youth with limited English proficiency.

A recent survey developed by the UNM Mulicultural Bilingual Education Center and the Albuquerque Public Schools Language and Cultural Equity Unit found that only half of all students with limited English proficiency locally are taught by endorsed bilingual or ESL teachers.

“The program is in direct response to these shortages of qualified bilingual/ESL teachers,” Ortiz said.

“About half of the Hispanic students in Albuquerque Public Schools have families that have been here 450 years and the other half are recent arrivals to New Mexico,” Ortiz said. “In the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of students coming into the schools from Mexico and Central America.”

Students with second languages are often misdiagnosed with learning or other disabilities, he said.

“It’s a difference issue, not a disability issue,” Ortiz said. “We will teach the skills and strategies needed to work with children from a second language background whether it’s Spanish or Navajo or another language. The goal is to produce children who are bilingual in their native language and in English.”

The UNM College of Education will soon add a required course on teaching students with second languages for all elementary education students, he added.

For information, call 277-8961.