Pre-k through 12, world language education programs aim to expand horizons

The College of Education adds two new majors. PHOTO CREDIT: habitatbroward.org

Educators must continue to learn so that they can teach others, according to Danielle Dennis, interim dean of the College of Education. 

The College of Education is introducing two new majors to the school, focusing on Pre-K through 12 and world language education. 

Having already offered programs similar to these, the College of Education has refined them to include a broader range of ages for people to be qualified to teach, Dennis said. 

The College already has an established early childhood education program in Kingston; however, URI has now joined forces with the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) to offer an online program for people who are already in the workforce. 

The program focuses on offering a broad range of education for someone like a teaching assistant who needs to work a job while still earning the credentials of a classroom teacher, according to Dennis. 

The world language education program has also been refined for those to be able to teach language to students at different levels. 

To accomplish the world language program, the College of Education works closely with the world languages department. A student would be enrolled as a double major in education and the language of their choice for this program. 

“We completely revised the program to make sure that anyone that goes through it feels comfortable teaching in that really broad range of grade levels,” Dennis said. 

World languages have the possibility to recruit more students, according to her.

“There is such a major shortage of qualified world language teachers, not just here in Rhode Island, but across the country,” Dennis said. 

She believes that the more we are able to teach the younger generation about world languages, the better global citizens we can become. 

Not only can world language education help students learn English as a second language or help our students learn foreign languages, but it’s a chance for students to engage in the world at an early age, according to Dennis. 

“It’s great that Pre-K and world languages tracks are being added,” third-year education major Maddy Godeck said. “Preschool is the place kids learn how to learn. World languages are a huge part of building a well-rounded student. It allows them to learn about and understand cultures other than their own in a different context than a traditional social studies class.”

Godeck said that the addition of world languages is going to allow for a more diverse education curriculum that helps teachers be more well-rounded, which she believes is exactly what education systems need. 

“We try hard to make sure there is diversity of field experiences,” Dennis said. “When you go from children who don’t know their ABCs to children that are reading chapter books, there’s a big difference in terms of what they know and are able to do at different points in their life.”

The College of Education looks for schools in a variety of areas and schools with different ethos so students get a range of ideas about how to teach children, according to Dennis. 

“I think that the addition of pre-k and world language tracks are going to draw more people to the school of education,” Godeck said. “It will create an opportunity for people who are already studying education to explore an avenue they wouldn’t otherwise explore.”

Dennis said that it is so important that children in our schools have access to the highest quality educators, and that is what she likes to see come out of URI.