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USD School of Education Addresses State's Linguistic Diversity with ENL Programs

Seal o the University of South Dakota The USD School of Education offers new ENL programs to respond to the state's growing need for linguistic diversity.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota School of Education now offers an English as a new language (ENL) minor, an English language learners (ELL) graduate certificate and a specialization with the Curriculum and Instruction Master of Arts programs.

The ENL programs at USD emphasize the sociocultural context of education, prompting both pre-service and in-service educators to consider how students might be impacted by factors related to their linguistic or cultural identities.

“It is critical that all school personnel, but particularly classroom teachers, understand the nuances of effective EL instruction so that appropriate adjustments can be made to equitably interact with, instruct, and assess those students,” said Dyanis Popova, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the USD School of Education. “Quality care is key to the success of all students.”

Though some English as a second language specialists are enrolled in the courses, the programs primarily train mainstream and content teachers to effectively adapt what they already do to best serve all students. The ENL programs at USD promote quality advocacy and instruction that can be applied in any educational context.

“Our program emphasizes inclusive and culturally responsive education,” Popova noted. “This enables our program graduates to shape their instructional practice to address the academic and sociocultural needs of all students, regardless of English language proficiency.”

The state of South Dakota is becoming increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse, resulting in a demand for teachers who are able to adapt their teaching to be more inclusive of various learners. According to the South Dakota Department of Education, English Learners (ELs) account for 7.7% of students in South Dakota schools. Although areas like Huron and Sioux Falls account for the majority of EL enrollment, the population is spread throughout the state, meaning that teachers in all districts need training to provide equitable and effective educational experiences to South Dakota ELs. 


USD's School of Education is transformative in preparing students both inside and outside the classroom. Its research- and practitioner-based programs train future educators, counselors, leaders, fitness and sport-related professionals for successful careers. The school focuses on a comprehensive learning experience, lifelong learning and developing professionals grounded in best practice. The school’s divisions include counseling and psychology, curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, kinesiology and sport management, and teacher residency and education.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News