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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

#036--November 20, 1998; For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted DeAdwyler
(415) 338-1665

Federal Grant Of Nearly $1 Million To S.F. State To Help Meet City’s Urgent Need For Bilingual Teachers In Chinese

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--Laureen Chew, head of San Francisco State University’s bilingual program in Chinese for future teachers, receives an urgent telephone call several times a month. "I need a bilingual teacher who speaks Cantonese or Mandarin and I need that teacher now," say school principals from across the Bay Area.

Chew can offer little assistance because most of the student teachers in her credential program are snapped up as soon as they graduate.

But reinforcements soon will be on the way. Thanks to a grant of nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Education, S.F. State will be able to train up to 16 new Chinese-speaking bilingual teachers each year for five years for the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), where more than 40 percent of the students with limited English-speaking skills are Chinese American.

"Because of the high percentage of Chinese Americans in San Francisco, there has always been a strong demand for more bilingual teachers. And today that demand is as strong as it has ever been. San Francisco State can be especially helpful in meeting that demand because many of our teaching credential students will have a background related to ethnic and linguistic diversity," said Chew, a former San Francisco public school teacher who has been on the S.F. State faculty since 1980.

After English, Chinese is the most frequently spoken language inside the home in San Francisco, according to the 1990 U.S. Census. Spanish is third followed by Tagalog. Throughout the state, educators say, only 30 percent of students with limited English ability are in bilingual classes because of a shortage of about 20,000 bilingual teachers in California.

"We have a critical need for more bilingual teachers who speak Chinese. We can’t find enough teachers. This grant will help us meet a very urgent need in San Francisco," said Rosita Apodaca, assistant superintendent for language and bilingual programs in the S.F. Unified School District. Currently, SFUSD has 8,572 students of Chinese descent who have limited English-speaking skills. In all, the school district has approximately 20,000 students from all ethnic backgrounds with limited English-speaking skills.

Twenty-five students are currently enrolled in all phases of the Chinese bilingual program at S.F. State, Chew said. Through additional recruiting, she plans to double the number of incoming students within five years. Chew said she intends to recruit new credential candidates from students who have majored in subjects such as Asian American Studies.

In fact, Chew will encourage applications from any college graduate who is fluent in Chinese and wants to become a teacher. The grant will provide financial assistance for tuition and books for students in the program.

"San Francisco State University is proud to be able to respond to this critical need in the San Francisco schools," said Robert A. Corrigan, S.F. State’s president. "Supplying a new force of bilingual teachers in Chinese will help many more children make a quicker transition to the English-only classroom."

The $942,000 federal grant will immediately begin providing financial assistance to students in S.F. State’s Bilingual Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development (BCLAD) in Cantonese Multiple Teaching Credential Program, Chew said. Over the course of three to four semesters, the credential students learn to teach basic skills in all major areas of the elementary school curriculum for both fluent and limited English proficient self-contained classes.

"The primary focus of our program is to provide Chinese bilingual credential candidates with the best practices related to English language development for elementary grades. We also emphasize teaching skills for the multi-ethnic classroom," said Chew.

The grant also will help create a summer institute to provide opportunities for experienced teachers to increase their skills in language and curriculum development for multi-ethnic classrooms. These teachers will, in turn, provide guidance for the new bilingual credential candidates in the program.

Voter approval of Proposition 227 last June won’t lessen the demand for Chinese bilingual teachers because of the chronic shortage, Chew predicts. The proposition replaces most bilingual education programs in the state with English-immersion classes. "Now that we have the money we can help meet this pressing need for our children," Chew said.

For more information about the S.F. State Cantonese bilingual teaching credential program, call Laureen Chew at (415) 338-2734.


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