Bilingual/ESL research nets $1.3 million grant

Dr. Gisela Ernst-Slavit, associate professor of education at WSU Vancouver has received a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a project titled “Teams in ESL for Achievement in Member Schools” or TEAMS.

The associate professor of bilingual and English as a second language education and coordinator of the campus’ Bilingual/ESL program has been key in coordinating with local school districts to address the shortage of bilingual and ESL educators in southwest Washington.

Between now and 2007, the TEAMS grant will provide scholarships to nearly 70 certified K-12 teachers wanting to earn their ESL certification, provide scholarships to school administrators to take a graduate-level course discussing critical issues in ESL and fund a spring forum that will bring nationally known speakers to campus to discuss ESL and multilingual issues.

This is not the first grant that Ernst-Slavit has received for this type of project. There are two others addressing the same issue from different angles.

In 1999, she received a $1.1 million grant from the USDOE for a five-year project titled “Bilingual/ESL Teacher Advancement Program” (BETAP). This grant recruits, trains and supports bilingual paraprofessionals and secondary education students to earn their K-8 teaching certification with endorsements in Bilingual and/or ESL education. In the last two years, this program has enrolled about 38 students from southwest Washington.

In 2000, Ernst-Slavit received a $600,000 grant for a project titled “Bilingual/ESL Support Training” (BEST). This grant pairs high school teachers in math, science and social studies with ESL teachers. For three weeks during the summer these pairs plan and implement instruction so that they can revise their current teaching practices to better serve ESL students.

Whereas the BETAP and BEST grants have focused on the Battle Ground, Evergreen, Kelso, Longview and Vancouver school districts, the TEAMS grant adds 19 rural districts into the mix, including Centerville, Glenwood, Green Mountain, Hockinson, Kalama, Klickitat, La Center, Lyle, Mill A, Mount Pleasant, Naselle-Grays River, Ridgefield, Roosevelt, Skamania, Toutle, Trout Lake, Wahkiakum, White Salmon and Wishram.

“Together, these three grants put WSU Vancouver at the forefront in addressing the needs of southwest Washington having to deal with an increasing number of immigrant families,” said Ernst-Slavit. “Very important in these grants is that we work so closely with the ESL personnel and administrators in five school districts. The TEAMS grant was conceived by a team from WSU Vancouver and the districts. Without a doubt, that is why we’ve been so successful.”