- How can preservice teachers be prepared to teach in a TWI setting? What information and skills do they need in order to be effective in TWI programs?
- What are some useful and appropriate supports for new TWI immersion teachers?
- What are some useful strategies that team teachers can use to communicate student progress and coordinate lesson planning? What does teaming look like in a TWI setting?
1. How can preservice teachers be prepared to teach in a TWI setting? What information and skills do they need in order to be effective in TWI programs?
Very little research has been conducted on this topic, but a study of eight veteran teachers in a variety of TWI programs across the United States (Howard & Loeb, 1998) yielded the following recommendations. First, it is essential for TWI teachers to understand and support the structure and goals of the program. An orientation to the program should include background information on the school—its mission and history—as well as a real understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of immersion education (e.g. Howard & Christian, 2002). Support for the program involves acceptance of the idea that it is perfectly possible for a child to become fully bilingual, biliterate, and multicultural. This acceptance can come from extensive discussions with peers and instructors about the social, political, affective, and cognitive consequences of bilingualism. It also comes from seeing firsthand the results of good TWI education. This can be accomplished through student-teaching placements in strong TWI programs, visits to such programs, and interviews with graduates of TWI programs.
Along with this program-level knowledge, teachers in the Howard and Loeb study (1998) stressed the importance of having well-developed teaching knowledge that includes subject matter competence (including familiarity with the state and district standards and curriculum in particular), an array of effective teaching strategies (such as sheltered instruction), and the understanding that all students can learn and succeed. It is very helpful for pre-service teachers to see these strategies in action in a TWI classroom (or preferably to use them themselves during their student teaching placements) and to have the opportunity to discuss them among themselves as well as with the teacher they have observed.
Finally, teachers in TWI programs stress the need for cross-cultural and linguistic knowledge. A basic familiarity with the languages and cultures involved in the program is essential, as is having some ideas about how to work with the two groups of parents, who can present challenges for inexperienced TWI teachers. Knowing how to elevate the status of the partner language in an integrated setting (e.g. through its use in the wider school context, at assemblies, PTA meetings, in announcements, etc.) is very useful as well.