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Multilingual and Multicultural Education - Overview


Multilingual and multicultural education programs prepare people to teach subjects in one or more languages. Students learn to teach adults and children who are mastering a second language or do not speak English in the home. They also learn to design courses and plan lessons.

If you've ever taken a course in a second language and struggled to express even the most basic thoughts or ideas in that language, you know how difficult it is to learn a new language. Imagine if you had to put the rest of your education (e.g., history, literature, science, math) on hold until you could master enough of that language to understand instruction in other subjects. You might be in school for much longer than other students, and you'd likely be miserable for much of that time.

Multilingual and multicultural teachers try to ease the educational experiences of English Language Learners (ELLs). With the help of these teachers, learning English becomes part, instead of the whole, of an ELL's school experience. These teachers also make the transition to living and working in the U.S. easier for adults.

As the number of immigrants to the U.S. continues to grow, so does the number of ELLs in schools. In fact, the American Association for Employment in Education conducted a study in 2001 that shows a widespread shortage of multilingual teachers, especially in urban areas.

If you love teaching, learning about other cultures, and learning a new language, and you're concerned about the welfare of an increasingly multicultural student population, bilingual and multilingual education may be the program of study for you.

As a student in this program, you learn about the issues and theories surrounding the field. You study ways to combine these theories and concepts with practical methods of teaching. You also study different cultures and take courses in a second language so that you can teach in a language other than English.

About 100 schools offer programs in multilingual and multicultural teacher education. The most typical degree you can earn is a master's degree, which usually takes about five to six years of full-time study after high school.

Some schools offer undergraduate programs in conjunction with other programs such as elementary teacher education or a liberal arts interdisciplinary major. Getting a bachelor's degree generally takes about four years of full-time study.

You can also earn a doctoral degree, which takes about nine to ten years, or a graduate certificate, which, like a master's degree, takes about five to six years.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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