UTEP Conference to Promote Value of Dual Language Instruction

What: Educators, administrators and advocates of bilingual education and dual-language programs will gather for the 21st annual BEEMS conference.
When: Feb. 27 – March 1
Where: UTEP’s Undergraduate Learning Center

As technology shrinks the world, more Americans need to learn to speak, read and write foreign languages. Approximately 550 educators, most from around the region, will gather at UTEP to discuss the best ways to make that happen.

The University of Texas at El Paso will host the 21st annual BEEMS Conference that will include site visits to area schools known for their innovative dual language programs, recognition of local dual language educators and advocates, and presentations about the latest findings in the field. BEEMS stands for Bilingual Educators Emphasizing Multicultural Settings.

The conference, “Preparing Global Children through Dual Language Education,” promotes the idea that the world is interconnected and interdependent, said Josefina V. “Josie” Tinajero, Ed.D., UTEP professor of education and international expert in the field of bilingual education.

The country’s fastest-growing school population is the estimated 4.6 million English Language Learners (ELL). As the ELL population spreads around the country, so does the need for teachers fluent in the latest dual language research and instructional practices, said Tinajero, who added that dual language programs are thriving across the country, even as far away as Alaska.

“We have to teach our students to be linguistically prepared to function in this world, and not just in one language,” Tinajero said. “A strong, world-class education incorporates bilingual programs to produce critical thinkers who are culturally sensitive.”

A longitudinal study by Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas, professors emeriti from George Mason University, show some ELL students in dual language programs outperform their monolingual peers in traditional classroom settings. Dual language programs group students fluent in two different languages and teach them in both languages. Collier and Thomas will present their latest findings at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, March 1, in UTEP’s Undergraduate Learning Center, Room 106.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently wrote that the United States must prepare its children for a future where their social and economic success depends on their ability to understand diverse perspectives and communicate with people from other cultures. He said their native languages – mostly Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Arabic and Hmong – should be preserved and valued to enhance the country’s national security and economic competitiveness.

For more conference information, please visit coe.utep.edu/conferences/beems.