University Unveils New Master's Degree in Literacy, Language, and Culture

Teacher with student
North Park University's new master's degree program in literacy, language, and culture is available beginning in the fall semester, 2012.

New degree program prepares teachers for today's classrooms

CHICAGO (April 23, 2012) – North Park University will become the second university in Illinois to offer a multifaceted Master of Arts degree in Literacy, Language, and Culture (MALLC) beginning with the fall semester, 2012. This spring, the North Central Higher Learning Commission approved the University's request to offer the graduate degree program to help educators prepare themselves for increasingly diverse learning communities.

"One of the greatest challenges as a classroom teacher is addressing the needs of my English Language Learners," said Derek Gould, a 4th grade teacher at Hibbard Elementary School, Chicago. To educate such students and prepare them for the challenges they will face, Gould said educators need extensive support and training focused on these students' specific needs. "The MALLC program has multiple courses that would improve my practice, and ensure that my students are receiving instruction that is tailored to their cultural, social, and academic needs," he said, adding that he is interested in pursuing the University's new advanced degree.

Offered through the University's School of Education, the MALLC is designed for certified teachers already working with culturally diverse students, and who want to enhance skills and gain additional certification. Teachers enrolled in the MALLC program can also obtain English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual endorsements, provided the teacher is fluent in a language recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education. The MALLC's 34-hour program can generally be completed in two years through classes at the University's Chicago campus. Courses run eight weeks, and are offered on evenings and Saturdays, and during the summer.

The University has offered ESL courses to teachers for some time. The new degree incorporates ESL and adds emphases related to culture and literacy—reading and writing development, said Dr. Angelyn Balodimas-Bartolomei, North Park University associate professor of education. "School administrators want more well-rounded teachers, instead of bringing in specialists," she said. "The mainstream teacher has to have the knowledge, the tools, and the skills to work with these students." Balodimas-Bartolomei and Dr. Maria Reyes, associate professor of education, are expected to teach in the North Park MALLC program.

Julie Due, assistant principal at Mary, Seat of Wisdom School, Park Ridge, Ill., said more and more students attending the school come from European and Asian cultures. It's not easy to find teachers with broad cultural and experience with languages other than English, she said. The University's new MALLC degree is a positive step, said Due, who works exclusively with North Park student teachers. "North Park sends the most prepared student teachers by far. You can tell the level of integrity, wisdom, and knowledge they bring," she said, adding that the University's strong teacher education program results in strong, well-prepared teachers.

Illinois public schools serve students who speak at least 139 distinct languages, and nationwide, English Language Learners represent 10 percent of total public school enrollment. The University is located in an area of Chicago said to be among the most culturally diverse in the United States. As many as 80 distinct languages are spoken in nearby schools, said Dr. Rebecca Nelson, dean, North Park University School of Education.

"This degree, providing advanced certification, meets the need of classroom teachers who need to know how to teach the students who are now in their classrooms versus 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago," Nelson said. "Teachers are always looking to increase their skills, and increase their effectiveness in terms of delivery to students. This is a perfect example of a training program that provides skills for classroom teachers to evolve to the next level."

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

Next Steps

Read more of the campus news featured in the Summer 2012 North Parker.