Education; bilingual; Language and languages study and teaching bilingual method; Mexican-American Border Region; Multicultural education; Teacher education
The University of Texas at El Paso’s field-based program of studies for future teachers provides opportunities for powerful learning through a dialectical union of reflection and action. Methods courses in academic disciplines are linked with seminars and coursework on community partnerships, dual language education and culturally responsive education. This article illustrates the processes of planning, implementation and evaluation of this approach, highlighting the impacts of forging connections among schools, communities and university personnel to improve education on the U.S./Mexico border and in communities with culturally/linguistically diverse student populations. Parents, students and future teachers interact in bilingual workshops that center on pupil achievement and conceptually correct science education. Preliminary outcomes indicate that two-way dual language (TWDL) bilingual programs (i.e., validating native language literacy along with English language acquisition) with a strong parental engagement component provide a strong framework for teaching/learning that can help improve educational outcomes for ELL/immigrant children and deepen future teachers’ skills and knowledge. Focusing on academic enrichment for all students, these field-based experiences enable future teachers to learn strategies that integrate students’ and families’ linguistic and cultural experiences as a resource for learning. The co-authors highlight qualitative data findings from the Science in Our Homes – Ciencia en Nuestras Casas field-based project in a multilingual, multicultural K-8 school on the U.S./Mexico border, providing insights for educators in diverse communities whose efforts focus on closing the achievement gap for English language learners and/or immigrant students.