The University of Belize in collaboration with the Fulbright Scholarship Program, United States, has developed a Sheltered Instruction Model for teaching English to students who come from a variety of language backgrounds, and for students who may not demonstrate adequate language proficiency in English.
Sheltered Instruction consists of teaching strategies that focus on language and content, and is used as a teaching tool for lecturers/teachers to teach students at different levels of proficiency; in particular, for students whose first language is not English. Sheltered Instruction is being used in American schools to boost the performance of students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
“In Belize, we have been operating on the assumption for a number of years that students are proficient in English. However, our experience in the classrooms is that this assumption is inaccurate,” said the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Education and Arts of the national tertiary institution, Dr. Priscilla Brown-Lopez. She added, “in order to meet academic requirements across the curriculum, it is of critical importance to ensure that students improve their knowledge and use of English.”
The University has received support from the Fulbright program through the work of Dr Aileen Hale, Idaho State University professor, who is working with Belize to teach students entering schools from bi/multilingual backgrounds. The training program was designed to assess current teaching methods and to devise a strategy for the integration of new teaching strategies for improving the students’ use of English across the curriculum.
She conducted a two-week training program in August for UB Educators in the 8 Components of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) – Preparation, Building Background, Comprehensible Input, Strategies, Interaction, Practice/Application, Lesson Delivery, and Review/Assessment. These components emphasize the instructional practices that are critical for English language learners to improve their academic performance.
Dr Hale is an educational specialist with training and experience in Bilingual education, Methods of teaching Spanish and English as a foreign/second language; the process of language acquisition; and, Sheltered Instruction. Discussions with the Fulbright scholar, also explored the development of a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) program to be offered through the University’s Regional Language Centre (RLC) and marketing for the TESOL Certificate.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries. It was established in 1946.
The University of Belize…Education Empowers A Nation!