Class to be offered for bilingual students

By Shikha Duttyal

NIU’s Naperville campus will offer a fall, graduate-level course to prepare teachers to work with bilingual students who have special needs.

In LTIC 555, Methods and Materials for English Learners with Disabilities, students will gain insight into the need to differentiate between second language learners’ special needs and their linguistic needs. The course structure will be comprised of an online potion along with a classroom component of group projects, case studies and hands-on teacher and student experience.

The course has been designed for the past two years by Chris Carger, professor of literacy and elementary education.

Mayra Daniel, associate professor of literacy and elementary education, has worked closely with Carger to develop the course. Daniel said the course focuses on identifying challenges in learning a second language and differentiating it with a learning disability.

“The course helps special education teachers give them what they have been asking for … how to evaluate a student who isn’t able to understand the content being taught,” Daniel said.

In order to be certified as a bilingual special education teacher, students must take LTIC 555.

Rodney Fitzgerald, instructor of literacy and elementary education, will teach the course. Fitzgerald said the English as Second Language course work has been endorsed by the state.

Fitzgerald retired in June from School District U-46 in Elgin, where he was an instructor and supervisor for more than eight years in bilingual special education.

“School districts are scrambling to find bilingual educators. We never have enough of them,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s a great need to prepare teachers.”

Fitzgerald said an English language learner might have a conversation with basic interpersonal skills, but a student must be able to use academic language in a classroom setting.