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. 

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