Teaching Bilinguals (Even If You’re Not One!): A Video Webseries for K-12 Educators

Sara Vogel, Urban Education
Faculty Advisor: Maite Sánchez, Ofelia García, Lisa Brundage
Project Website: Teaching Bilinguals (Even If You’re Not One!): A Video Webseries for K-12 Educators

Sara-CUNY-NYSIEB-3-28-2016_36Over the last 5 years, the state-funded CUNY-New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals (CUNY-NYSIEB), housed at the CUNY Graduate Center, has supported K-12 teachers of all subject areas as they work to educate emergent bilingual students who exhibit diverse and dynamic bilingual linguistic practices. The Initiative is driven by the core principle that rather than ignore or discourage students’ home language practices, schools and educators should use students’ bilingualism as a resource in instruction, creating multilingual ecologies in their classrooms rather than monolingual, monocultural ones. When teachers and school leaders are first introduced to CUNY-NYSIEB’s orientation towards home language use during CUNY-NYSIEB professional development sessions, they typically have many questions, chief among them being: “How can I use students’ home languages as a resource if I don’t know how to speak, read or write in those languages?”

In response, CUNY-NYSIEB has published a set of guides which feature tips for monolingual English-speaking and bilingual teachers alike. The documents often exceed 100 printed pages. Several classroom teachers I have worked with in my capacity as a research assistant at the Initiative have expressed that while they know the guides are chock full of useful tips and strategies to help answer their burning questions, they often find them dense to navigate.

TeachingBilingualsFrameTo aid teachers and teacher candidates in unpacking the strategies in the CUNY-NYSIEB guides, and to fulfill the requirements of the Independent Study Project for the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate, I will create a video webseries (three 4-5 minute-long episodes) which I am tentatively calling Teaching Bilinguals (Even if You’re Not One). Each episode will introduce a public school teacher in New York City and/or State and will demonstrate how she has drawn on her students’ home language practices as a resource in her instruction, following suggestions from the CUNY-NYSIEB guides. Special attention will be paid to scenarios where the teacher is herself, unfamiliar with the languages of her students. The webseries will be posted to the CUNY-NYSIEB website, and will be sent to CUNY school of education faculty in bilingual education so they might assign them to their undergraduate and graduate school classes.

To view a pilot episode of the series, click here.