US: Bilingual (Higher) Ed

Francis Hult francis.hult at
Thu Apr 8 12:34:20 UTC 2010

Inside Higher Ed


Bilingual (Higher) Ed


Puerto Rico's Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez attracted thousands of adult students to an accelerated degree program, AHORA, by stressing the kind of flexibility and practicality that one would expect from a program called "now."


But when administrators and faculty started considering how to expand into the continental United States they realized it wouldn't work to simply shift their program a few hundred miles north. 


"Offering a program all in Spanish wouldn't do the best for our students and there are plenty of English programs out there," says Luis J. Zayas, the university system's vice president for U.S. and Latin American affairs. "We had to think about how to serve a Spanish-speaking population living in a predominantly English-speaking place."


What they created is what Zayas and his colleagues believe to be the first-ever discipline-based, dual-language postsecondary degree program. Both languages are used equally in instruction and assignments; faculty and staff are all bilingual; and, Zayas says, "the courses are designed so that you can have a native English speaker or a native Spanish speaker go through with the same level of comfort."


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