Michelle Prytula, dean of the College of Education

College of Education programming responds to immigration increase

The U of S College of Education launched a new English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher certificate in response to the growing number of K-12 students requiring this support.

Since 2008, Saskatchewan has seen an influx of students requiring specialized instruction in EAL, while the number of teachers trained in this area has not grown proportionately.

"Over the past eight years, the number of students in the pre-K-12 system that require EAL instruction grew from one per cent to nine per cent," said Michelle Prytula, dean of the College of Education. "This rising number of students has resulted in a need for more teachers with specialized training in the area of EAL."

EAL resources, Prytula continued, are "few and far between. If there are classrooms with no EAL specialized assistance, and if teachers don't have the background in this, students are at risk."

To help meet the EAL needs in the school divisions and First Nations across Saskatchewan, the College of Education, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, and with much consultation with school divisions, developed the post-degree certificate in English as an Additional Language Education.

"Data from the Ministry of Education estimates that 15,000 students in K-12 are receiving EAL support during the 2015-16 school year," explained Prytula. "This means our teachers are faced with larger classes as well as pressures that include providing English language support, differentiated instruction, settlement support and attention to cultural diversity."

The EAL certificate, Prytula continued, aims to increase the number of teachers who have the knowledge, specialized skills and expertise that will assist them in working with English language learners at all grade levels so that those students can successfully meet credit requirements and graduate from Saskatchewan schools.

"This is not just about new Canadians, this will also help teachers who work with other students for whom English is not a first language, such as Indigenous students or Hutterian students," said Prytula.

Teachers who enroll in the certificate program—consisting of 10 courses, eight required and two elective, for a total of 30 credit units—will cover a wide-range of material: understanding the purpose, process and approaches to learning additional languages; learning approaches to assessment that are culturally and linguistically appropriate; and educational practices that support cross-cultural learning and cultural diversity in the classroom.

"This is the only certificate of its kind in Saskatchewan," said Prytula, "It's a great example of how we continually take steps in order to match the needs of the ever-changing education landscape in Saskatchewan."

The development of the EAL Certificate at the U of S was supported by the Ministry of Education, which enabled a four-month part-time secondment of Nadia Prokopchuk, a senior program manager of EAL and Languages to the College of Education to help develop the certificate.

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