The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the College of Education a five-year, $2.571 million grant in support of Project MEDALLA (Multilingual Educator Development Advancing Language Learning Achievement/Activism), which aims to create a network of certified bilingual educators in the greater Los Angeles area.
Until the 2016 passing of the Multilingual Education Act in California, English immersion classes had been required for English learners in the state. Now, by law, schools must provide dual language programs if requested by enough parents. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has implemented more than 200 of these programs since 2016, but demand continues to outpace the number of credentialed teachers.
Project MEDALLA will help meet this demand by launching revised pathways in CSUDH’s College of Education leading to Bilingual Authorization in Spanish for both in-service and pre-service teachers. It will also provide professional development focused on early biliteracy teaching methods and practices for multilingual learners and asset-based multilingual family engagement.
“What we’re doing is advocating and providing agency for language preservation and language development,” says Professor and Chair of Teacher Education and Project Co-Principal Investigator Pablo Ramírez. “It’s exciting to be co-creating space with and for multilingual parents, community members, and teachers.”
The College of Education has offered bilingual education training and certification for years, but previously did not have the resources or human capital to expand these programs. Associate Professor of Liberal Studies and Project Co-Principal Investigator Jen Stacy says the grant will enable the Project MEDALLA team to build on the college’s existing partnerships with schools, create more offerings for teachers, document best practices, and widely share their research findings.
“When people hear about what we do, they get really excited because we are one of the only places to offer both teacher education coursework and professional development in Spanish,” Stacy says. “We want to disseminate information not just to our local community, but to the national and international community to share how we center a critical and culturally sustaining framework, and how exactly we are better preparing teachers.”
By contributing to the scholarship around multilingual education, sharing best practices, and equipping teachers with the skills they need, the Project MEDALLA team intends to continue promoting the myriad advantages of dual language learning. The positive effects extend far beyond classroom walls, Ramírez says.
“These programs have academic and social benefits for students, as well as for broader communities,” he says. “Research shows that students who engage in multilingual programs are critically aware of multicultural education, multicultural issues, issues around language and equity, and issues around community belongingness.”
“Our mission is to prepare our students to be part of this pluralistic society.”
The Project MEDALLA team consists of Ramírez and Stacy, along with Associate Professor of Teacher Education Elexia Reyes McGovern, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Nallely Arteaga, and Associate Professor of School Leadership Yesenia Fernández.
The grant was administered through the Department of Education’s National Professional Development Program, which provides grants to implement professional development activities intended to improve instruction for English Learners and assist education personnel.