Academic journal article Education

Some Benefits of an Education Abroad Program for Elementary Preservice Teachers

Academic journal article Education

Some Benefits of an Education Abroad Program for Elementary Preservice Teachers

Article excerpt

The most effective teacher education programs with regard to promoting cross-cultural literacy are those that actually immerse preservice teachers in other cultures in other nations for teacher internships (Stachowski and Mahan, 1995). In 1990, Bennett identified cultural immersion as the mode for achieving the highest level of cross-cultural awareness. Paese (1993) advocated the cultural immersion approach by stating that students who participated in study abroad programs developed an appreciation of diversity and how to deal with differences that all teachers face no matter what the setting. While implementing a study-abroad program, Osnes-Talyor (1994) noted that "only through direct human-to-human contact did we stop thinking of people as representatives of groups and begin to respect them as unique individuals ..." (p.8).

One of the issues currently facing teacher educators is the question of how to effectively prepare future teachers for an increasingly diverse student population. According to the 1990 U.S. population census, there were over 22 million Hispanics in the United State with their population nearly doubling every ten years (Manning & Baruth, 1996). By the year 2020, students of color will make up 46% of the student population in the United States (Banks, 1991). In an effort to meet the challenge of preparing teachers for an increasingly diverse classroom environment, Ball State University is committed to offering several international study opportunities for students. As stated in the university catalog (Ball State University, 1994), "the university has a strong commitment to cultural diversity and international programs," (p. 2).

The course of study in elementary teacher preparation at Ball State University requires the completion of an early field experience in conjunction with a methods course each year during the first three years of the four-year program. The campus laboratory school and the Muncie public schools provide early field experience placement sites for these freshman, sophomore, and junior year practica. Each practicum emphasizes a different aspect of teaching and the contact time with children increases from eight hours during the freshman and sophomore years to approximately forty-two hours during the junior year.

Because a multicultural education course is taught in conjunction with the sophomore field experience, the EDEL-M (course registration code, EDEL represents education and M represents Mexico) program was created. This program affords preservice teachers the option of completing their sophomore field experience requirement during the summer semester in Monterrey, Mexico. Program enrollment is limited to twelve students per year and was first implemented in the summer of 1994. While enrolled in EDEL-M, preservice teachers receive instruction regarding preparation and delivery of formal lessons to children living in a different culture. It is a life-experience preparation approach regarding the elements and issues of multicultural education.

Program Description

Successful implementation of the EDEL-M program is based on the coordination of teaching opportunities provided by the American School Foundation De Monterrey (ASFM) and university course assignments. Following is a description of the learning environment and requirements for program participation.

Contributions by the ASFM

The American School provides the elementary classrooms in which EDEL-M students are assigned to complete their early field experience practicums. The instructional program at the school during the summer is primarily remedial and focuses on language arts instruction. Students are treated as regular faculty members and have access to all school facilities. Most importantly, students have daily contact with children and their teachers from 8 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. for a period of three weeks.

Classroom placement sites range from pre-kindergarten through grade six. …

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