Teaching Bilingual Education, a class taught by Dr. Steven Hayward, focuses on how to include English Language Learners in the classroom. It is one of the core classes for the ESL certification and every year, more and more students enroll. I sat down with Dr. Hayward to discuss the class and why this training is so incredibly important.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, specifically in a linguistic aspect. Do you speak any languages besides English and if so, how many? Are you fluent in those languages?
A: I pretty much grew up a monolingual English speaker, but I was exposed to a lot of Spanish growing up. It wasn't until high school when I took German. It was shocking trying to learn a language in an academic way. After graduation, I knew that if I wanted to stay in southern California, I needed to learn Spanish, but in a very different way. I was convinced I wouldn’t learn it in night school, so I found a teaching job in Guadalajara. I learned German in an academic sense and in Spanish I learned socially. My Spanish is serviceable, but I can no longer speak German. I can read and write it very well.
Q: Why did you choose the field of bilingual education? Was there any specific moment?
A: Since living in a border town in southern California and being exposed to hispanic culture through that, I just have always been interested in learning a second language and second language acquisition.
Q: How many students are typically in this class?
A: This is my third year teaching it, and we have 21 this semester. But last spring, we had six and the previous spring we had eight. It’s a really big semester, which is nice, but I’m working to accommodate the assignments to that.
Q: What is your favorite project or assignment for this class?
A: At the end of the semester, I like the final project because the students research a topic of choice. When you do research on some aspect of bilingual education that’s of interest to you, you’ll actually teach something and use the aspects that we covered in the class, which is nice to see.
Q: The field of bilingual education can be controversial, with citizens and politicians fighting over the right approach. With your knowledge, what is the best approach to integrate ELLs into the classroom?
A: I think the literature and successful practice indicates that you need to give English Language Learners access to the content. If you have well trained teachers, they can help with English language development. Let’s not isolate them because if you do that, you eliminate social language usage and models. I think that there is also a place for an English language learning class, like from thirty minutes to an hour a day, where you focus on improving academic writing and language.
Q: What are the benefits of having bilingual education programs in schools?
A: I am all about the United States becoming a multilingual place. It helps you in the world of business and culture. By taking a dual lingual program, you are contributing to this approach of bilingualism.
Q: What are some of the cool changes you’ve seen, in this field, throughout the years?
A: Really, the growth of dual language programs. It began in the late 90s and exploded in the 2000s. Before, it was small and disregarded, but now that it’s more widespread, it benefits everyone, including monolingual English speakers.