UC Merced offering Bilingual Authorized Teacher Prep Program for Spanish

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the first time, UC Merced is offering a Bilingual Authorized Teacher Prep Program for Spanish.

Mari Harris, director of education programs extension, says she's been pushing for this since the program started in 2018.

"I wanted to make sure that our students understood that being culturally responsive meant also being linguistically aware of the culture that students bring with their language," said Harris.

The Bilingual Authorization courses became available late spring semester, and students in the program like Rosa Baeza didn't think twice about adding the courses to their workload.

"I definitely wanted it because my goal was to become a dual language immersion teacher," she said..

As a Latina, she understands firsthand some of the challenges bilingual students face in school.

Now, she is kicking off the fall school semester as a bilingual teacher in her hometown of Planada, using her skills to better serve her students.

"In my own education, in my classroom, I never heard Spanish and for me growing up in a Spanish home, that would have been extremely helpful," she said.

Alongside her, over 11 students also graduated with their bilingual authorization, making them the first cohort of UC Merced.

Harris says with the demand for bilingual teachers higher than ever before, she's hopeful their new program will be taken advantage of for years to come and says she's reaching for more language authorization courses.

"Right now, it's Spanish but tomorrow, it can be Hmong, or it could be other languages," she said.

If you are a current teacher and interested in receiving your Spanish bilingual authorization, Harris says the courses can be completed in one semester.

For more information, click here.
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