Erikson's ESL Program Prepares Teachers

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 11, 2010 | Go to article overview

Erikson's ESL Program Prepares Teachers


One look at the typical early childhood or elementary classroom and anyone can see the need for bilingual/ESL certified teachers-particularly in Chicago's collar counties, which hold nearly 25 percent of all students enrolled in Illinois' bilingual programs.

"Teachers in classrooms with English language-learners recognize the importance of this specialized training and know that it makes a difference," says Michel Frendian, Erikson Institute's dean of enrollment management. "We recognize the geographical and logistical challenges in getting to our campus, which is why we're making our certificate program available at College of DuPage."

Erikson's highly respected 15-month program prepares teachers to get bilingual or ESL approval from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE); it is approved by ISBE's Division of Professional Certification.

It prepares teachers from a range of settings -- preschools, early child care programs, and public or private schools -- to increase their effectiveness in a multicultural, multilingual early childhood classroom. Academically rigorous, it provides theoretical frameworks and research findings that reveal how young children learn a new language; methods and techniques to improve a teacher's ability to assess and teach young learners from diverse cultural and language backgrounds; and an emphasis on the role of family and culture in the classroom.

The courses and reflective practice seminars are taught by experienced faculty and are designed to prepare teachers to meet the special needs of new language learners in a culturally, linguistically and developmentally appropriate manner.

The impact of

bilingual/ESL certification

Graduates notice an immediate difference in both their practice and their classrooms. "I teach a class that is 98 percent Hispanic, English as second language learners, so this training was essential to giving these children the education they need and deserve," says kindergarten teacher Annie Perveneckis, who graduated from the program in 2008.

Since returning to her Cicero classroom, she has employed a number of new methods to help her kids improve their English. Her favorite is storytelling. Once a day, she picks a child to tell a story in their first language, but using English whenever they can. Their classmates are an active audience, and spontaneously pop up to act out characters, scenes, and even places and objects.

While the children have fun telling stories, they greatly improve their vocabularies. Over time they tell fuller stories, using more and more English. At the same time, the entire class' vocabulary is boosted as they act out the recognizable words. …

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