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UNC Professor Participates in Conference on Teaching STEM to English Language Learners

Teacher teaching children their lessons in school

January 24, 2019

University of Northern Colorado education students can expect to take six-credit hours in preparation of better teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects to English language learners (ELLs).  
 
Colorado passed a resolution last year that requires all teacher preparation programs to better integrate ELL education into all school subjects including STEM in K-12 schools. UNC is complying with the new standards in its teacher preparation and development programs by dedicating at least six credit hours in curriculum for education students.   
 
Jingzi Huang, Ph.D.“We must make teachers realize that they need to be more inclusive with ELLs,” said Jingzi Huang, Ph.D., UNC professor of Language Education and associate dean and school director of Teacher Education. “Studies show that teaching STEM to ELLs from an English teacher is not the best policy/practice, instead math and science educators should work with CLD teachers collaboratively for students’ development of language for math and science in the process of teaching and learning math and science content.”   
 
A recent consensus study report titled, "English Language Learners in STEM Subjects," from the National Academies of Sciences found that U.S. schools systems need to do more to ensure that English language learners are being included in STEM subjects in K-12 schools. To kick off its findings, NAS held a public event at the Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, CA, on Monday, Jan. 14. 
 
Slides during the conference on teaching STEM to ELLsHuang participated in a three-person panel discussion at this event due to her expertise and past publications on preparing and developing educators to teach ELLs science and mathematical subjects.  (Images at right: Some of Huang's slides at the conference.)
 
She received positive feedback on her comments at the conference on how to prepare future educators with such tools. The publication and event are part of the national shift in understanding of English learners’ development of language for math and science, where “all math and science teacher educators shoulder the responsibility of preparing math and science teachers to understand and implement the strategies for integration of language development and STEM content learning in the classroom. 
 
“Lack of English proficiency is not a barrier or an indicator of school success,” Huang said. “Many other factors play bigger roles in students’ school success; however, a lack of attention to students’ language development of math and science is detrimental to both culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students and many other diverse students who are native speakers of English.” 
 
To better prepare faculty and students in UNC education programs, workshops will be offered in late February and early March on tactics for establishing more inclusive classroom cultures to support CLD students’ academic language development for success in school. 

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