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Paper Suggests Biggest Missed Opportunity for Hiring Bilingual Teachers Comes From Overlooking Teachers Aides

Paper Suggests Biggest Missed Opportunity for Hiring Bilingual Teachers Comes from Overlooking Teacher Aides

According to researcher and founder of New America’s Dual Language Learners National Work Group Conor P. Williams, despite the increasing number of dual-language learners in U.S. schools, there is not a tangible growth in the kinds of bilingual instruction programs offered.

This is despite the fact that studies have shown time and again that as dual language learners embark on a journey to learn a language different than the one at home, bilingual instruction programs help them find success.

Williams and a team of researches explored in a recent paper how providing opportunities to paraprofessionals in the teaching workforce could help many schools begin the not-so-simple process of building bilingual instruction programs.

While only one-eighth of PreK-12 teachers speak a non-English language at home, one-fifth of paraprofessionals do.

“These paraprofessionals frequently have the linguistic and cultural competencies their schools need, as well as considerable instructional and educational experience,” the report says.

“That is, they often possess a great many of the requisite skills and much of the critical knowledge to serve as high-quality, multilingual lead teachers. If schools can get more of them to the front of their classrooms, they can considerably improve how young DLLs are served.”

Moving forward, the paper recommends that states look into developing policy that takes advantage of these paraprofessionals’ skills by providing them direct pathways to becoming lead teachers.

The New America’s Dual Language Learners National Work Group says it has committed itself to several research projects that will look into exactly how schools can effectively get more paraprofessionals on the track of full teacher certification to eliminate the existing bureaucratic, financial, linguistic and academic obstacles they currently face.

Read the full paper here.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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