Alejandro Pérez, Ph.D. student, Foreign Language and ESL Education
• Hometown: Albacete, Spain
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Pamela Wesely, Associate Professor, College of Education
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? PhD program in Foreign Language and ESL Education. Expected graduation, Spring 2021.
• Please describe your research: I work in different research projects regarding dual language education in Iowa, including the project “Advocacy, Capacity and Collaboration for English Learners (ACCEL) in Iowa”. I aim to achieve a better understanding of teachers’ needs in dual language programs and then collaborate with bilingual educators to enhance dual language assessment practices, curriculum development, and teachers’ professional development.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? In the past 20 years, Iowa has experienced a 250% increase in its population of emergent bilingual students. Dual language programs have been found to be the most effective bilingual programs for English language learners and English native speakers learning a second language. This success, however, depends on school district support and advocacy for the program, and critically conscious dual language educators engaging with emergent views of multilingual teaching practices.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started research during my second year as a graduate student in my masters program (before I got started with my PhD program).
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research provides me the opportunity to meaningfully connect all my program courses with my professional interests and my long-term goals. The data collected and analyzed through my research has opened new doors for me and has expanded my academic expectations.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After finishing my doctorate, I aspire to collaborate with school districts implementing dual language programs and providing in-service dual language teachers professional development opportunities. Additionally, I would like to continue my career as scholar by doing research and teaching preservice teachers in areas related to bilingual education, like applied linguistics, language assessment, language policy and planning, or Spanish for educational purposes.
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