As I have mentioned before, in order to become a teacher one must receive a BA, complete a course of study to become certified and pass several exams, all conducted in English. Now this makes a lot of sense if the teacher will be conducting class in English but teachers in immersion classes are not conducting class in English. They are using French or Spanish or Mandarin or any other myriad of languages. Most of the teachers of these languages speak English just fine but not at the level necessary to pass exams and write academic papers.
Now, if your child were in an English only classroom, would you be ok with a teacher who had the equivalent of an 8th grade level in English? A teacher who didn't know how to spell properly, couldn't write and made frequent grammar mistakes? Due to the English language requirements for getting a teaching credential, many of the most qualified bilingual teachers are unable to teach in the US. I do want to mention that there are those bilingual teachers who are credentialed and who have an appropriate level in the language of instruction but far too often that is not the case. Some bilingual teachers have never taken a formal class in their native language because they grew up in the US and were not fortunate enough to have been provided with a bilingual education.
As more and more districts begin to expand their number of bilingual schooling options they are facing the need to hire qualified teachers. Such is the case in Maryland where language immersion programs have been poping up. Finding the right people doesn't seem to be the hard part, its getting them certified.
"We don't want to diminish the certification, certification is very important," said Bill Reinhard with the Maryland State Department of Education. "But there are ways of speeding certification along."Yes, we are going to need to reevaluate how we certify our teachers and create ways for getting around the language barrier facing many of our most qualified immersion teachers. However, with increase of bilingual programs we just might be able to produce our own bilingual teachers right here in the USA. Wouldn't that be great.
Providing flexibility in teaching certification, the task force hopes, could help schools utilize the language talents of first-, second- or third- generation Americans.
See full article here.