State approves bilingual teaching program

University among first opening classes to undergrads

The Graduate School of Education’s Department of Learning and Teaching, chaired by associate professor Tymika Wesley, worked with the Department of Languages and Cultures in the undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences to develop the program.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — May 5, 2021) As the result of a rare interdisciplinary collaboration between undergraduate and graduate programs, California Lutheran University has become one of the first institutions in California where undergraduate students can begin earning their bilingual teaching authorization through coursework.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing recently approved Cal Lutheran’s educational program as a pathway to a bilingual teaching authorization in lieu of passing the California Subject Examinations for Teachers III language exam in Spanish. Cal Lutheran allows undergraduate students to begin taking the graduate-level classes, giving them a head start once they enter a teacher-education program.

Cal Lutheran’s program is the result of interdisciplinary collaboration between undergraduate and graduate programs, which is rare in higher education. The Graduate School of Education’s Department of Learning and Teaching, chaired by associate professor Tymika Wesley, worked with the Department of Languages and Cultures in the undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences to develop it.

“This is a big step for our university as we are the only institution in California that has a department such as ours, Languages and Cultures, involved in educating and assessing students toward this authorization at the undergraduate level,” said Rafaela Fiore Urízar, chair of the Department of Languages and Cultures and associate professor of Spanish and Latin American studies.

The bilingual authorization program prepares teachers to meet the needs of English learners in all instructional settings, including bilingual programs. There is a critical need for bilingual authorized teachers in California, which has the highest percentage of English-language learners in the United States. English learners made up 19% of the total enrollment in California public schools in 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Cal Lutheran undergraduate students already can begin taking graduate courses toward their teaching credentials, allowing them to focus their attention on other course work and classroom experiences as graduate students. The new program expands this opportunity to classes needed for the bilingual teaching authorization. 

The Graduate School of Education has long provided innovative programs. In 2018, it launched the EDU/CAL program to increase the number of Latino teachers through increased advising, tutoring, mentoring and outreach. For 14 years, Cal Lutheran has offered an Integrated Liberal Studies program that allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree and preliminary teaching credential in four years. The university also has been a statewide leader in developing partnerships with schools that provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on classroom experience while helping schools and allowing university and school faculty to learn from each other.

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