What is ABBES?
ABBES officially stands for the Association of Bilingual/Bicultural Education Students. But that does not really answer the question, does it? ABBES provides many opportunities for its members that they would not otherwise have. ABBES is an organization that brings together people with a common interest, bilingual education, to provide an academic support group, a way to network outside and within WIU, a place to foster professional development, and a means to increase cultural awareness.
Members in ABBES are all bilingual/bicultural education majors and minors attending WIU. Membership includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, non-traditional students, graduate students, and faculty. Members take several bilingual classes together and can provide a group to study for tests, ask questions, and gather ideas. Also, because all bilingual majors and minors have to take the same classes with the same instructors, we can help new students decide who and what to take, as well as answer questions about the content of the courses.
ABBES has provided its members with a network of resources both within and outside the WIU community. Through the leadership roles our members assume, they learn to work with other campus organizations as well as various offices on campus. Through the organization of various events, ABBES members network throughout Macomb, for publicity purposes. ABBES members are also given chances to participate in ESL tutoring in the surrounding schools, which allows them to gain experience for the future. ABBES also sponsors trips to schools throughout the state with bilingual programs and the members are able to make connections with administrators and teachers. Another way ABBES does this is by having teachers and administrators come to WIU and give presentations. We are able to meet and discuss issues and problems with these people and they are able to see what type of program we offer at WIU. Finally, ABBES members have presented and attended many conferences that allow us to meet a wide variety of people in the field of bilingual education.
All the activities help promote professional development as well as many others. The EIS department has hired a graduate assistant that is fluent in Spanish and offers conversation hours in which members can practice Spanish in a relaxed, non-threatening environment in order to become proficient in our second language for certification and communication with future students and parents. ABBES also has purchased published resources for bilingual education, including activity books, CD-ROMS, children's books, and other educational materials. Not only can these resources be used by students for class work, it is also there to give members an idea of what is out there for future reference.
To finally answer the question "What is ABBES?" we are a diverse group of students with diverse interests, but our commitment to bilingual education keeps us striving to achieve more and more each year in the areas of academic support, professional development, networking, and cultural awareness.