Why You Should Get a Master’s in Dual Language

Jim Kallieris
Jim Kallieris
Coordinator of Language Acquisition; M.S. in Education
Teacher pointing out words about weather in Spanish to students.

What is a Master’s in Dual Language?

A master’s degree in dual language (sometimes called bilingual, ESL, or TESOL) provides an educator with a background of the philosophy, research, and methods of instruction in a linguistically diverse setting. The goal of a dual language program is for students to become bilingual, bi-literate, and multicultural. Teachers pursuing a master’s in dual language will learn that students learn to read differently in different languages. For instance, in the Spanish language, students learn to read by forming syllables first, and then combine them to form words.

While there are differences between languages, dual language programs focus on similarities between the two target languages as well. Words that sound similar and have the same meaning between the two languages are called “cognates”, and students excel at pointing them out to the teacher. Focusing deeply on the similarities and differences between the two languages is called “metalinguistic transfer”. Students learn a great deal about grammar in both languages when they study the similarities and differences between words and phrases in each language. A master’s degree in dual language will teach you about these similarities and differences and how to best deliver instruction to students because of them.

Most importantly, a teacher who is pursuing a master’s in dual language will learn that students in this program will use their entire “linguistic repertoire” when working in either language. For this reason, it is important that teachers assess student work from an emerging bilingual perspective. When students overgeneralize certain grammar rules from one language to the other, they are showing an understanding of the grammar rule. Penalizing students for doing this does not help the student reach the goal of becoming bilingual, bi-literate, and multicultural. Instead, the teacher would embrace and praise this overgeneralization as a pathway to the end goal. The teacher would also learn the importance of assessing students in both languages or even creating bilingual assessments that are a true predictor of success towards students’ goals.

Reasons to Get a Master’s in Dual Language

If you are looking for a degree that will bring social justice and equity into our public education system, then a master’s in dual language is a rewarding option. Dual language programs see bilingualism as an asset rather than a deficit towards student success. Historically, our schools have focused on subtractive models when instructing students that speak a language other than English at home. In other words, the goal of the model would be to shed the students of their home language in order to focus on acquiring English. In addition, these students have been required to assimilate to the Anglo culture in order to achieve success.

We all know that there are achievement gaps between students who speak English at home and those who speak languages other than English at home. This is to be expected as our previous attempts to instruct bilingual students have been done in segregated classrooms with the assessments of achievement all taken in English. Students in these sheltered bilingual classes have few models of strong English language, and at times it is only the teacher.

Lastly, dual language teachers and specialists are in great demand. As the number of dual language programs increases, there is a shortage of qualified staff to fill these positions. Having a master’s degree in dual language will guarantee, at the very least, receiving an interview for the position.

Benefits of a Degree in Dual Language

The benefits of a master’s degree in dual language are endless. You’ll likely see an increase in salary. Additionally, most school districts offer a signing bonus for bilingual teachers, especially in a dual language setting. Not to mention, with the shortage of qualified staff in this arena, having a master’s in dual language will increase career opportunities for the educator.

The professional development offered to dual language teachers is some of the best, research-based PD provided by highly talented experts in the field. Also, with a master’s degree in dual language, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and expertise to advise others on the subject, possibly by leading PD efforts in your school. And finally, having a master’s in dual language will make you a warrior for social justice and equity. Who doesn’t want that?

Ready to pursue your graduate degree in dual language? Check out our available programs and enroll today!

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