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Bilingual/Bicultural Education at WIU-QC; Spanish Minor Added

March 18, 2014

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- The Western Illinois University College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) has announced that beginning in Fall 2014, bilingual/bicultural education will become an official major at the WIU-Quad Cities campus. In addition, the College of Arts and Sciences will offer Spanish as a minor beginning this fall.

"This is a wonderful educational opportunity for prospective students in the Quad Cities region," said College of Education and Human Services Dean Sterling Saddler. "As the Hispanic population continues to increase within the United States, it is essential that school districts employ bilingual/bicultural teachers. By offering this degree at both of our campuses, Western continues its mission to provide qualified, experienced educators to our nation's schools."

According to Gloria Delany-Barmann, bilingual/bicultural education program coordinator and chair of the educational and interdisciplinary studies department, qualified bilingual/English as a second language (ESL) teachers are in high demand throughout the state and nation. Students completing the bilingual/bicultural (Spanish language) education undergraduate major complete all requirements to qualify for elementary licensure and will be granted approval for ESL through the Illinois State Board of Education.

"Offering the bilingual/bicultural education major in the Quad Cities is an exciting opportunity to increase the number of teachers in the region who are prepared to teach culturally and linguistically diverse students," Delany-Barmann added. "Teachers in our program are highly employable and have a significant impact in the educational settings in which they choose to work."

The bilingual/bicultural education program also includes numerous field experience opportunities in diverse classroom settings, and students often participate in study abroad programs to such countries as Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain and Argentina. Upon graduation, program graduates work in dual language schools, sheltered English programs and transitional bilingual education settings.

"Choosing to become a bilingual/ELL education teacher has been the most rewarding experience. This profession allows me to feel like I am truly impacting students and families in areas that are beyond the classroom," said Johanna Poncio-Jordan, a bilingual teacher in Aurora (IL). "As a bilingual teacher, it is a privilege to be a role model for both students and families with a second language who aspire toward a better life."

According to Gary Schmidt, foreign languages and literature chair, offering the Spanish minor at the Quad Cities opens up opportunities for students who are studying a broad range of disciplines.

"Proficiency in another language and culture increases students' professional marketability and their capacity to work with colleagues and clients in a multicultural and/or multinational environment," he said. "It fosters advanced cognitive skills like critical thinking and perspective-taking, contributes to lifelong learning, and is personally enriching."

The minor requires just 16 semester hours, six of which must be upper-division. Students with prior knowledge of Spanish should take the placement exam. In addition to coursework leading to the minor, students may participate in WIU faculty-led Study Abroad programs and apply credits from these programs toward completion of the minor.

"We are excited by these new high-demand academic programs at our Riverfront campus. It is our mission to expand educational opportunities that meet our students' and the region's needs. These new opportunities support that mission and positions students well for the global community and economy of the 21st century," said Joe Rives, vice president for the Quad Cities and planning.

For more information about the bilingual/bicultural education major and Spanish minor at Western and other programs of study, visit and

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