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$1.05 Million Federal Grant Awarded
To Train Teachers of Non-English
MAILED: Oct. 3, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been selected to receive a $1.05 million federal grant to train teachers of non-English speaking students in the Eau Claire Area School District and surrounding districts.
As a result of the four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education under the National Professional Development Program, the number of English as a Second Language trained personnel in the region will increase by nearly 700 percent.
“This effort speaks clearly to the mission of UW-Eau Claire to provide education in a broad range of programs to meet identified regional and state needs,” said Provost Ronald Satz. “It demonstrates the close partnership between the university and the local school district.”
The grant will satisfy a critical need for teacher development in the Eau Claire Area Schools, said Dr. William Klaus, school superintendent.
“The district needs trained teachers in the areas of ESL instruction. We currently have one and parts of two other federal and state grant initiatives to help better instruct our non-native English-speaking students. These grants, however, do not fill the need of further preparation for in-service or pre-service content teachers,” Klaus said.
The project will help bridge the gap for mainstreaming ESL students by training content-area teachers to assess and teach these students and serve as experts in their schools.
“There are 12 teachers with ESL training in the Eau Claire district now, and that number will increase to 260 under this project,” said Dr. Kate Reynolds, project director and director of the university’s Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages and English as a Second Language programs.
The four-year grant is aimed at teachers with Hmong and Spanish speaking students in their classrooms. It will enable teachers to develop their knowledge base for instruction and mainstreaming of students with limited English abilities.
“These teachers will learn ways they can modify their materials, instructional strategies and other educational practices to include best practices for English language learners,” Reynolds said. “TESOL is just good teaching. It’s an interactive, hands-on method of teaching and will improve the educational experience for all students in the classroom.”
Reynolds said there is limited support for ESL in Eau Claire because the district is considered a low-incident area for English language learners. The ratio of English language learners to certified ESL teachers in the Eau Claire school district is 51 to 1. Since the ratios are high and time is limited, there is an increased need for quickly and effectively mainstreaming these students.
In many cases the gap between the students’ abilities and the level of performance necessary in the regular classroom is too difficult to bridge without support, Reynolds said. Mainstream teachers often feel ill equipped to include these students into their classes because they have no training on how to modify their curriculum to help them.
“Many of these students fall behind in coursework and when they are legally permitted, they drop out of school,” Reynolds said. “Clearly there is a critical need for intervention through training, and that is what this project aims to provide.”
The grant will serve 20 in-service teachers in UW-Eau Claire’s TESOL add-on license program and will reach an additional 140 in-service teachers through workshops. In addition, 100 pre-service teachers will complete the UW-Eau Claire content-based English as a Second Language methods course and participate in workshops to develop skills to teach students from diverse language and cultural backgrounds in their future classrooms.
“They will be able to develop their skills to educate linguistically and culturally diverse learners in their classrooms, meet the State of Wisconsin’s Public Instruction 34 Teacher Standards and to develop further their concept of best practice,” Reynolds said.
The TESOL add-on license program is a two-year, 32-credit program. The participants will be granted scholarships for all TESOL courses for tuition, fees and books as well as a small stipend for participation. The grant also includes funds to pay substitute teachers while in-service teachers are receiving workshop training during school hours.
Reynolds wants to recruit 20 teachers, with 10 admitted to the program for the spring 2003 semester. The other 10 will start next fall.
For more information, contact Reynolds at (715) 836-4067.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: October 22, 2002