Members of BTSA are the Next Generation Teacher

2015-10-19 11.18.30

BTSA Officers for 2015-16

The Bilingual Teacher Student Association (BTSA) at UCI will hold its first meeting on Thursday, October 29 at 6:30 pm in the School of Education Building, #2001.  This club is open to any bilingual undergraduate interested in becoming a bilingual teacher.

UCI’s School of Education has a strong hiring rate for its bilingual graduates enrolled in their teacher education programs.  All bilingual multiple subject credential graduates were hired in 2014 and 2015; most were hired at dual language immersion schools.  The tremendous growth in dual language immersion programs has created many job opportunities for bilingual teachers and the trend is strongly predicted to continue with new dual language immersion programs opening every year.  The nation is experiencing a severe bilingual teacher shortage.

There are over 25 dual language immersion programs within 20 minutes of UCI.  This past fall, Newport Mesa Unified, Orange Unified and Westminster School Districts launched new dual language immersion programs in languages such as Spanish and Vietnamese.  Placentia-Yorba Linda and Tustin Unified School Districts are slated to begin new dual language immersion programs in Spanish in the fall of 2016-17.  Most dual language immersion programs in Orange County offer Spanish or Mandarin, but there now is a Vietnamese dual language program in Westminster and a Korean dual language program in Lake Forest.  These programs are multiplying at rapid speed in Orange County.

The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) has created a video to promote multilingualism and firmly establish a pathway to the Seal of Biliteracy in their schools.  They have also created a dual language network to support and provide resources to existing and newly formed dual language programs in the county.  Their next meeting is on December 9 from 8:30am-11:00am at the the OCDE in room D1009.  They also have network meetings for supporting 21st century skills in the secondary world language classroom.  Their next meeting will be held on November 12 at 3:30pm-5:00pm at the Santa Ana Unified School District.

This is a wonderful time to become a bilingual teacher.  The growing number of English language learners in our schools, tidal wave of dual language programs across the nation, and Obama’s recent 1 Million Strong Initiative, greatly increasing the learning of Mandarin by 2020, will definitely create an even stronger demand for bilingual teachers. Parents are also becoming more aware of the importance of being bilingual and are lining up to register their children in dual language programs.  Just recently, Patricia Gándara discussed how bilinguals did indeed have an advantage in the labor market in her new book, The Bilingual Advantage: Language, Literacy and the U.S. Labor Market.  If you are bilingual and are interested in teaching, know that you are the next generation teacher.


UCI School of Education’s Bilingual Teacher Candidates and Bilingual Alumni Attending the Annual Bilingual Luncheon, Fall 2015

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UCI Feature Story: Bilingual Boom

The School of Education’s bilingual credential graduates were recently featured on UCI’s homepage.  As dual immersion programs grow, the need for more qualified bilingual teachers will be needed.  Schools and districts start as early as March in the recruitment process to ensure they have enough bilingual teachers for their programs.  It is not uncommon to have multiple openings at various schools.  Some school districts in Orange County have up to 5 openings for the new year.

If you are interested in becoming a bilingual teacher at UCI, please visit one of the various information sessions or coffee chats held this summer at the School of Education.  Priority Admission  for 2016-17 is January 29, 2016 and if admitted and matriculated  for Fall 2016, a $2,000 scholarship will be given to the applicant.

For more information please visit, Master of Arts in Teaching.

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Three Generations of Bilingual Anteaters

Amy Kohn, Samantha Salas and Aries Magana

Bilingual Anteaters (L-R): Amy Kohn, Samantha Salas and Aries Magana

This past Friday, I visited Gates Elementary School in Lake Forest to supervise three bilingual student teachers in their dual immersion (Spanish) classrooms.  Currently, there are six UCI credential students placed at Gates for their last student teaching assignment.

My last visit of the day took place in Amy Kohn’s afternoon kindergarten class.  Contrasting the rainy gloom outside, four energetic individuals busily worked as a cohesive team with kindergarten students in a brightly lit classroom.  I observed Samantha Salas teaching her math lesson to a small group of students.  She was using  ten frames and manipulatives in one corner of the classroom as her master teacher, Maria Regueiro, prepared the tables for a bean toss activity that followed the lesson.  On the opposite end of the classroom, Amy Kohn was dictating sentences to her group of students.  As both of these lessons were simultaneously being taught, Aries Magana tutored students individually on the rug away from the two groups of students in a quiet corner.  Students were engaged in the activities that were carefully planned for them and all of the discussions heard in all four corners of the room were in Spanish.

In one kindergarten classroom, three generations of bilingual Anteaters collaboratively worked side by side, each contributing to student learning of the new Common Core curriculum.  Amy Kohn received her credential and master’s degree from the School of Education  last year and was one of the first students  hired from the program.  She also received her bachelor’s degree from UCI.  Samantha Salas is currently a student in the Master of Arts in Teaching  program in the School of Education.  With a few more weeks of classes and student teaching remaining this quarter, she is now actively applying and interviewing at different school districts for bilingual teaching positions.  Aries Magana is currently an undergraduate at UCI enrolled in Education 100, a course offered by the School of Education and is an elective for the new major in Education Sciences.

The education course focuses on training undergraduates to successfully tutor at various public schools and requires forty hours of fieldwork in an elementary or secondary school. Over half of the students enrolled in this undergraduate course this past quarter were placed in dual immersion classrooms where the target language is either Spanish, Mandarin or Korean. Coincidentally, Amy enrolled in Education 100 several years ago while an undergraduate at UCI.  Her experience tutoring dual immersion students solidified her decision to become a bilingual teacher.  Let’s hope it’s the same for Aries and the many other bilingual undergraduates taking courses in the School of Education.  We certainly will be needing more bilingual teachers for the growing number of dual immersion programs in California.

Currently, there are six  alumni working as bilingual teachers at Gates.  All six were placed at the school for their student teaching while graduate students pursuing their teaching credential in the School of Education and two were also UCI undergraduates. Myuriel von Aspen (’11) will be completing her fourth year at the school and is Gates Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year.  She is now a master teacher for UCI’s bilingual multiple subject credential students and has also mentored many bilingual undergraduates who have enrolled in Education 100.

UCI Bilingual Student teacher, Evelin Villanueva and Master Teacher, Myuriel VonAspen

UCI Bilingual Student Teacher, Evelin Villanueva and Master Teacher, Myuriel von Aspen

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New Dual Immersion Program for Orange Unified School District

Orange Unified School District will be opening a new dual immersion program next fall; it will be their second one.  The district is one of two school districts in Orange County to offer a Mandarin dual immersion program.  The other dual immersion program is in Laguna Niguel at Bergeson Elementary in the Capistrano Unified School District.  The dual immersion program in Orange Unified now has classes from kindergarten to fourth grade and has plans to expand to high school in the ensuing years.  The school, Fletcher Elementary, follows a 50/50 model of instruction where half of the time is spent learning in Mandarin and the other half of the day is spent in English.

The new dual immersion program will open in 2015-16 at California Elementary School.  The target language for this new program will be Spanish and will follow the 50/50 model where half of the day will be taught in Spanish and the other half will be in English.  The new Spanish Immersion Academy or iInspire Academia will  also be part of an exclusive one to one iPad academy where all students will have access to iPads for enhanced learning of new content in Spanish.  This program also intends to expand to high school.

These two schools accept students residing within and outside the school district boundaries.  Residents from other school districts can apply to enroll their children in either dual immersion program.  The necessary forms will need to be completed at the home school district and with Orange Unified.   For more information, contact the schools for tours and informational meetings that are held during the year.

If you have a child that is not yet attending school, it is best to start researching schools when they are 3 or 4 years old.  Many dual immersion schools and programs have long waitlists and I’m sure this new program will too.  They are already accepting applications for a second kindergarten class.

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Two New Dual Immersion Programs in Newport Mesa Unified School District

Newport Mesa Unified School District will offer two new dual immersion programs for the incoming 2015-16 school year.  College Park Elementary School will offer Mandarin and Whittier Elementary School will offer Spanish.  Both schools are located in Costa Mesa. Enrollment for these two schools are only open to students residing within their school district zone.  Applications are still open until April 15.

Newport Mesa will also launch six new programs for their high school students called their Signature Academies and five of these programs will be open for incoming ninth grade students next year;  the sixth one will start in 2016/17.  All of these new programs will focus on global competitiveness.  Corona Del Mar High School will specifically offer the Academy of Global Studies and Newport Harbor High School will offer the International Baccalaureate Academy.  Applications for all of their Signature Academies are also open until April 2015.

Here is an excerpt of their mission statement for their Signature Academies:

All NMUSD Signature Academies aspire to take students beyond the basics to elevate their academic vision. All academies have a global competitiveness theme. Students choosing to enroll in the Signature Academies receive unique curriculum options and supplemental activities that complement the highly successful core academic programs at our four high schools. Each academy in our high school zones approaches global competitiveness from a unique angle.

This is exciting news for Orange County!  As stated on their district website, their students will definitely make their mark on the world.

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BTSA (Bilingual Teacher Student Association) at UCI



Bilingual Teacher is expanding its reach to our next generation of bilingual teachers.  Bilingual Teacher Student Association (BTSA) will be launched this spring on the UCI campus for any bilingual undergraduate and graduate students interested in becoming a bilingual teacher.

Our first BTSA meeting will be held on April 13, Monday, at 6pm in the School of Education building, room #2024.  Spread the word bilingual Anteaters!

Join us at Wayzgoose in April too!

Please complete this Google form if you are interested in becoming a member:         Bilingual Teacher Student Association


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First Vietnamese Dual Immersion Program in California

Westminster School District will be the very first California school district to offer a dual immersion program in Vietnamese next fall!  Garden Grove Unified School District will most likely follow with their own dual immersion program in Vietnamese too.

It is wonderful to see so many new dual immersion programs expanding in our local school districts across the county and the state.

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Possible Spanish Immersion Program in Irvine, CA

A  large group of parents from Irvine would like to see the Irvine Unified School District offer a Spanish immersion program next year at the elementary school level.  A website, My Bilingual Child Irvine, was created to help make this happen. The group has already gathered more than 100 signatures from parents and other supporters.  They will be speaking to the Irvine Board of Education on November 18, 2014 at 6:30pm in the district administration center at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine.  Anyone can attend the meeting to show support and to to speak during the public comments section.  For more information or to speak at the meeting, please email

Please support this group by signing their petition.

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Welcome New Bilingual Teacher Candidates


Multiple Subject Bilingual Candidates (standing) and Bilingual Alumni (seated) at UCI’s Annual Bilingual Luncheon

A new cohort of bilingual candidates has joined the UCI Multiple Subject Teacher Credential Program this year.  Many classes have already started for them, but the official start date for the academic year is October 2.  During the annual bilingual luncheon, held immediately after their orientation last month, candidates had the opportunity to meet bilingual alumni who are currently teaching at various local dual immersion schools.

Last year, 100% of our students were hired at various public schools, the majority teaching in dual immersion programs. Our bilingual community is growing stronger with every bilingual teacher that exits our program.  A strong network of bilingual alumni is represented in many of our local dual immersion schools including:  Gates, Las Palmas, ViejoBergeson, El Sol and Orange County Educational Arts Academy.  Other bilingual alumni are hired in Riverside and Los Angeles.  Los Angeles Unified and Riverside Unified School Districts are expanding their dual immersion programs.

Bilingual teachers are in high demand and for the past several years, most of our bilingual candidates have not had a problem finding a teaching position in a dual immersion or in regular schools.  If the trend continues, there will definitely not be a shortage of jobs for these bilingual candidates next year.

As with every year, it was amazing to meet such passionate individuals fluent in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean or Mandarin.  Biliteracy in the various languages is something they have successfully achieved.  Future second language learners enrolled in dual immersion or regular classrooms will greatly benefit from their rich linguistic and multicultural experiences.

For more information regarding where our UCI bilingual candidates are hired, please see:  Spotlight on Bilingual Teachers 

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First Few Weeks of School

Susy Magaña ('07) at La Ballona Elementary School with Colleagues

Dual Immersion Teacher, Susy Magaña (’07; by lion), at La Ballona Elementary School in Her Kindergarten Classroom with Colleagues After Back To School Night

When I think of the first few weeks of school and all that needs to be accomplished as an elementary school teacher, I think of only one word that describes the feeling that many veteran and newly minted teachers usually have, exhaustion.  By the time they meet their new students on that first day, it is a feeling that overwhelms all others.

I have volunteered in my child’s second grade classroom since the second week of school and am in awe of his teacher and all that she has accomplished during these early weeks of school.  Her bulletin boards are colorful, material is well organized, name tags are securely affixed on their desks, routines are automatic and effective classroom management techniques are consistently used before, during and after any lesson.  As many veteran teachers know, classroom management is the key to any successful learning in the future and those early days are critical in establishing clear expectations and rules of conduct.

CardstockAs I sat cutting little bits of cardstock one day, I also realized that many new teachers do not capitalize on the help they could be receiving from their school community, parents in particular.  As back-to-school night nears, parents should be recognized as integral members of the classroom.  Parents are usually eager to volunteer during those early months and beyond if the teacher establishes strong rapport with them.  Parent volunteers can tremendously lessen the clerical workload for teachers.

Planning for what parent volunteers will do in a classroom is essential.  Work should be ready a day or two beforehand so their time is maximized.  Some parents will be content making journals and stapling papers at home.  Others, who are not intimidated by the school environment, can make copies in the office or even read aloud to students while a teacher completes one on one testing.

The opportunities are limitless and the key is to find out what parents like to do and how much time they can give.  A back-to-school night survey asking them about their interests and volunteer times can be very helpful.  Posting an open calendar with specific times needed in front of the classroom or via an email/letter is also an excellent idea. Having a designated area (e.g., tray labeled volunteer work in the back of the room) for specific tasks that need to be completed could also lessen the interruptions a teacher may have of a volunteer that doesn’t know what to do when they arrive.  Each task should include specific, easy to follow directions.  The cardstock activity took a very long time to complete and my thumb was a little sore, but I was happy to have at least helped out in preparing these manipulatives for a math activity students were going to complete within the next several days.  At least for that day, the teacher could focus on more important things to do after school and her “to do” list would have one less thing on it.

I hope all of our teachers, parents and students have a great academic year.  I am thankful for being able to volunteer in my son’s second grade class.  As parent volunteers, we get to quietly observe how our own child behaves and interacts with others in the classroom as we cut, staple and organize material in the back of the room.  We are also privileged in observing the lessons that are taught that day and have a better understanding of the homework that is assigned.

For teachers, hope for volunteers, plan for volunteers and be thankful for parent volunteers.  They are eager to help and are a valuable resource.

Thanks Sra. Martinez (UCI bilingual master teacher) for allowing me to volunteer in your classroom and here’s to a wonderful year working with you!

Here are some other resources for those first few weeks of school:

Bright Ideas for Back-to-School Night…and Beyond

40+ New Teacher Resources


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