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Bilingual/Bicultural Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Bilingual/Bicultural Education

In the Department of Arts & Humanities

About the Program > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Bilingual/Bicultural Education Program? Is it the right program for me?

The Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Education focuses on the study of multilingualism in education while privileging the education of minority language within the United States and the world.  We acknowledge other aspects of the phenomenon of multilingualism in education, such as the spread of world languages (English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Arabic), but that is not our emphasis.  We emphasize the use of more than one language in the instruction of bilingual learners within public schools, and our location, one of the most multilingual and multicultural cities in the world, permits students to explore a variety of school settings.  We also privilege enrichment programs that bring together language minority and majority students in bilingual settings.

This program IS for you, if you want to:

  • become a bilingual teacher working in an public elementary school in New York that deals with minority language backgrounds.
  • work in a bilingual setting such as in a dual language education program, a transitional bilingual education and/or heritage or second language education program.

This is NOT the program for you if you:

  • want to teach adults. We encourage you to continue to search our catalogue and to read below how you can combine other programs with the Advanced Certificate in Bilingual/Bicultural Education.

In the previous question you mentioned the types of programs that the Program works with, can you explain them?

  • Dual Language Education school programs are those that allocate the language of instruction in an either 90/10 or 50/50 model.  The 90/10 model uses a language other than the dominant language (within the United States it is a language other than English) 90% of the time, and 10% of the time is spent with the dominant language (within the U.S., in English) as the medium of instruction for the first few years and then moves to a 50/50 allocation of languages. The 50/50 model is one that allocates language equally from early elementary through higher grades.  The aim is to develop bilingualism among language minority and majority participants.

  • Transitional Bilingual Education Programs use the child's native language in order to transition students into the mainstream language (in the U.S., English).  The native language is used as a medium of instruction to support second language learning until the student can to transition into an all-mainstream language classroom situation.  The aim is not to develop bilingualism.

  • Heritage language programs are usually in after-school settings or Saturday school settings, and aim to teach a family language as a way to strengthen cultural identity among minority language speaker. For example, if a Korean family wants their American-born children to learn Korean, the aim is bilingualism.

  • Second language enrichment programs are programs that aim to teach a minority language to a language majority student.  It teaches the language and a course in the language.  The aim is bilingualism.

  • There are other programs that promote multilingualism, such as language awareness programs that do not aim to develop bilingualism per se, but aim to develop awareness of many languages with which our students often work.

Why should I consider this program over TESOL? What is the difference between BBE and the Teaching of Second languages?

Much depends on your career goals. TESOL is about teaching English using English as the primary medium of instruction, whereas BBE develops understanding and working knowledge for education in more than one language and privileges programs that aim to preserve, develop, and promote minority languages whether this is a 1st or 2nd language for minority or majority student groups.  Overall, it is designed to make people bilingual. In the BBE program, you can also pursue a course of studies that emphasize policy or research in multilingualism in education with an emphasis on minority languages. Many students in the academic/non-certificate track take that approach.

Where can the BBE program graduates most likely expect to work?

Again, much depends on your choice of tracks within the program.

If you are a US citizen or permanent resident and:

  • have chosen the teaching track and, and pass all the necessary NY State requirements, such as placements and exams, as a bilingual teacher, you can work in bilingual schools in NY or in any other state with which NY state has a reciprocity agreement

  • have not chosen to pursue a teaching track that leads to NY State certification or do not take exams nor the certified programs, you can use your degree to work in an independent (private) school.  You can also work as a bilingual evaluator or as a bilingual administrator.

If you have chosen the teaching track and are an international student on a student visa, it is be very unlikely that you can work in the US (for details, go to the OIS website, Teacher Certification office, and Immigration websites).  You may want to consult with your country to see what the requirements for certification may be and inform your advisor of your findings when you develop the course of study you will pursue.  You might also consult bilingual requirements for other employment opportunities within your country and raise questions about these possibilities in the admissions process.

I'm interested in studying Bilingual/Bicultural Education at Teachers College. What are my choices?

The Program in BBE is flexible, but the teaching strand has many restrictions.  We encourage each student to plan an appropriate course of study, as much will depend on the students' prior experiences and in their future career goals.  Within, we will discuss the non-teaching strand first and this will be followed by the different teaching options. Read each section carefully and go to our degree guide to find out more information about specific courses and requirements for each.

M.A. in Bilingual/Bicultural Studies:

If you want to study bilingual/bicultural education, but are not interested in teacher certification, we have an M.A. in Bilingual/Bicultural Studies program that gives you flexibility to pursue a policy, research or teaching strand. The program is fully registered in the NY State Education Department. It will be useful if you're interested in policy study, research, or if you're an international student, who is not interested in classroom teaching.  The teaching strand within this program does not lead to NY State certification.

M.A. in Bilingual/Bicultural Education leading toward NY State teacher certification

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, there are three options that lead to a Masters of Arts that distinguish between your prior experience and your career goals:

  • If you do not have any teacher certification and you want to teach in elementary school, you follow the M.A. Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Childhood Education (Dual track). This program aims to prepare educators to work in bilingual settings that privilege the education of language minority students and meets the course of study leading to NY State certification in Childhood Education (1-6 grades) with a Bilingual Education extension. It is possible to extend the dual certification so that it includes a Middle Childhood Education certification (7-9 grades) .  Please discuss this possibility with your advisor, if you're interested. Within this program there are two streams:

    Stream A is for students without prior teaching experience in elementary school education and is 40 points.

    Stream B is for students who have student taught in an elementary school setting, have taught full-time for a minimum of one year, or are presently teaching. This track has a minimum of 33 points.

  • If you do not have any teacher certification, but you're part of the Peace Corps and want to teach in elementary school, you follow the M.A. Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Childhood Education (Transitional B). Only students approved by the Peace Corps are eligible for this degree. It requires a special intensive 200-hour pre-component in the summer and mentoring throughout the year. This program can also lead to NY state dual certification in Childhood Education (1-6 grades) with a Bilingual Education extension. It is also possible to take courses that will lead to a Middle Childhood Education certification (7-9 grades) to this course of study.  This track is 33 points.

  • If you have teacher certification in any area, you follow the M.A. Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Education (Professional/Second Initial). This program leads to NY State professional certification in the area in which you hold certification and, in addition, gives you Bilingual certification. It is also possible to add a Middle Childhood Education certification (7-9 grades) if your teaching certificate is in elementary or secondary education. This track is 33 points.

Advanced Certificate in Bilingual/Bicultural Education leading to certification

If you are pursuing New York State teacher certification in another area or you already hold New York State teacher certification and would like to obtain a Bilingual Extension Certification, we offer a course of study that meets the NY state requirements for 15-16 points.  If you have a Bachelors' degree and are currently teaching, but not interested in an MA, you can take courses that will make you eligible for a NY State bilingual extension.

Specialization in Bilingual Education

It is also possible to obtain Bilingual/Bicultural Studies specialization/emphasis with any degree offered at Teachers College. The emphasis for M.A. students is 12 points, 18 points of Ed.M students, and 24 points for Ed.D students. If you're interested in obtaining teacher certification extension in bilingual education, then you must take the 15 credits of the advanced certificate in bilingual education.

I notice that for the teacher certification programs, there's a prerequisite of Developmental Psychology. Do I have to take it prior to the other courses?

New York State regulations for teacher certification require that you have a course in Developmental Psychology. We recommend HUDK 4022 Developmental Psychology: Childhood (or equivalent). If you have taken such a course as an undergraduate, we will accept it as a substitute, but you must communicate this information to your advisor. Otherwise, you must take that course at TC or in another institution prior to graduation. It is also possible to take a CLEP exam to fulfill this requirement.

I notice that the M.A. in Bilingual/Bicultural Childhood Education leads to Initial certification, but also gives the option of an Internship certificate. What does that mean?

Internship certificates are New York State Education certificates that can be granted to anyone who is interested in paid teaching prior to program completion, has finished over 50% of the credits in a program leading to initial certification and has student taught, has a formal teaching offer from a specific school, and has submitted an advisor's written recommendation to the Office of Teacher Education & School-Based Support Services (Attn: Faride Suarez).

This Internship Certificate will allow you to teach in New York State for just a year. We only recommend students who are following Stream B of Initial Certification or the Second Initial Certification program for Internship Certificates, as the intensity of course work during the second year coupled with the Master's project makes this option very difficult. We do not recommend students following Stream A for an Internship Certificate. Stream A students should follow the complete program and do a full-year of student teaching. If you're in Stream A and want to be considered for an Internship Certificate, you should discuss this with your advisor as soon as you register for the program. Again, we do not recommend that Stream A students apply for an Internship Certificate.

What does initial New York State certification mean? Is this the same as a certificate?

New York State gives initial and professional teacher certification. This is a State control mechanism that indicates that the individual has met all the requirements deemed appropriate for work as a teacher in the public schools of the State.  After you graduate you will get initial certification.  If you already hold the initial certificate, but have not taught for two years, you may apply for an extension.  After teaching for two years, those with initial certification will be eligible to apply for professional certification.
 
A certificate means that you have attended a course, a set of courses, or a conference. It is an acknowledgement of attendance and completion, but does not lead to NY State Certification.

What else do I need in order to get New York State teacher certification? What are the exams that I need to take to get NYS certification?

When you complete our M.A. programs leading to New York State teacher certification you will have met all the academic requirements. In order to receive New York State teacher certification, you must apply for State Certification and pass the New York State Teacher Certification Examination (NYSTCE) and the Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE) include the following:

  • Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA)
  • Educating All Students Test (EAS)
  • Academic Literacy Test (ALST)
  • Revised Content Specialist Tests (CST)
  • Bilingual Education Assessments (BEAs) - for the Bilingual Extension

All questions regarding certification that are not of an academic nature should be directed to the Office of Teacher Education.

When and where do I find out about the exams and when can I take them?

The NYSTCE are given four times a year. We recommend that you take the ALST as soon as you enter, and the rest during the second year. For more information, visit the Office of Teacher Education and School-based Support Services in 400 Russell Hall or visit their web site at www.tc.edu/ote.

If I am certified in another state, do I have to redo initial certification for NY State certification or can I just go into the second initial certification program?

New York State has reciprocity with a number of states. Check the New York State Education Department's website at www.nysed.gov. If you're certified in a state with which NY state has reciprocity, then you can go into the second initial certification program.

Do I have to follow the courses in the order that they are described?

If you are in a strand leading to NY State Certification, you do not have much flexibility.  It is important to follow the sequence, as some courses have prerequisites and they are designed to build a theoretical perspective and meet all the State academic requirements before you go in the classroom.

Further, few classes are offered both semesters and you have to make sure you plan according to the course of study and the time you will be on campus. The required BBE courses are only offered in the fall and the spring. You need to look for non-BBE courses if you want to lessen your load in the fall and spring.  Consult with your advisor.

Are all courses taught in English?

All of the courses required for the M.A. in Bilingual/Bicultural Education are taught in English except the language workshops  (A&HB 4801-04), which are taught in a Language Other Than English (LOTE). You are responsible for registering for and attending the workshop in your LOTE in the Fall of your first semester.

I need to work, but am concerned about the times at which courses are offered. Can I work and take classes at the same time?

Yes, most courses are offered after 3 pm.

If you're following the second initial stream or if you're pursuing the Transitional B certification, chances are you will be teaching as you do your coursework. It is possible for these students to do their required student teaching within their classroom or school, as long as it is a bilingual education classroom.

If you're pursuing your Initial certification, you will be required to student teach or do a practicum during your coursework (one whole year for Stream A, one semester for Stream B). During the time in which you do your student teaching or practicum, you will be required to be in schools 3 days during the week. This makes it difficult to work full-time.

You can design your course of study so that you can go to school full time or part time. Plan carefully and check with your advisor.

I understand that I have to take the Child Abuse Seminar and Violence Prevention Seminar to be certified in NYS, but I do not know how to go about it. Can you tell me how to meet this requirement?

It is possible to take the Child Abuse Seminar and the Violence Prevention Seminar online. Visit the Office of Teacher Education, located in 400 Russell Hall, call them at (212) 678 3502, or e-mail them at ote@tc.edu for more information.

Does the BBE program offer doctorate level degrees?

No, it does not. It only offers a master's level degree. However, the program in International and Comparative Education in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies, offers doctorates with a concentration in bilingualism and bilingual education policy.