Bilingual Education

Fairfield University has one of the oldest bilingual teacher education programs in Connecticut. Bilingual education courses have been offered since 1974 and the bilingual certification programs since 1981. Currently, the School of Education and Human Development offers MA degrees and a Sixth Year Certificate (SYC) in elementary or secondary bilingual education. The SYC is designed for certified teachers with an MA in TESOL or bilingual education or an MA, professional development training, or some coursework in TESOL or bilingual education, and extensive experience working with language minority populations.

The Bilingual Education programs are only open to certified teachers with pre-K-3 early childhood, 1-6 elementary or 7-12 secondary academic subject certification. Programs of study are tailored to meet the specific needs and teaching contexts of the candidates.

The Bilingual programs prepare educators to teach the pre-K-12th grade-level academic curriculum in a language other than English to students who are learning English as a second or additional language. They also prepare teachers to work in dual language programs in which native English speakers are learning a second language and students are learning English as an additional language are taught together.

The Fairfield bilingual programs benefit from the University’s proximity to schools with long-established ESL, bilingual, and World Language programs, as well as from extensive collaboration with communities and local schools. The programs are continuously updated to meet the changing demographics of today’s English language learners. 

Connecticut State Bilingual Cross-Endorsement and Testing Requirements

The elementary and secondary cross-endorsements require 18 hours of approved coursework in each of the following areas: first and second language acquisition, including language and literacy development; linguistic and academic assessment; cross-cultural sensitivity and communication, and implications for instruction; strategies for modifying English content area instruction; methods of teaching English as a second language; and methods of teaching bilingual education. All coursework must be completed at one university.

The Bilingual Education programs offer in-service teachers:

  • Cross-endorsement (#902) only elementary bilingual education k - 9 (18 credits)
  • Cross-endorsement in secondary bilingual endorsement (18 credits)
  • Cross-endorsement (#991) only in secondary bilingual humanities 7 - 12 (18 credits)
  • Cross-endorsement (#992) in bilingual secondary STEM education 7 - 12 (18 credits) 

Connecticut requires all bilingual cross-endorsement candidates to pass the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages Oral Proficiency Interview (ACTFL OPI) and Written Proficiency Interview (ACTFL WPT) with a score of "Advanced Low" or higher on both exams. In addition, they may need to pass the ACTFL OPI in English with a score of "Advanced Low."

Bilingual Leadership in English Acquisition Pedagogy (LEAP)

Fairfield University’s MA program track in Leadership In English Acquisition Pedagogy (LEAP) is designed for practicing teachers in K-12 schools serving English Learners. It provides a scientific research-based program of study and opportunities to develop evidence-based practices and strategies to ensure today’s English Learners’ academic success. Candidates in the LEAP program will deepen their knowledge of linguistics, second language acquisition, and second language reading development at different language levels and across content areas. Grounded in the science of teaching, LEAP prepares candidates to work with student support teams to design and provide supplemental language support, instructional design, assessment, and progress monitoring of English Learners. Program courses also fulfill the bilingual education cross-endorsements.

Sixth Year Certificate in Bilingual Education

The Sixth Year Certificate (SYC) in Bilingual Education is designed for certified teachers with an MA in TESOL or Bilingual Education or professional development training, some coursework in TESOL or Bilingual Education, and extensive experience working with language minority populations.

Candidates seeking to complete their elementary or secondary bilingual education cross-endorsement requirements may complete them as part of their 18 credits of elective credit.

Bilingual Durational Shortage Area (DSAP) Permit

Certified teachers seeking a DSAP position in bilingual education must be employed by a school district and be fully enrolled in a bilingual MA or SYC program. Districts may also require completion of a minimum of credits before considering a candidate for a DSAP. Passing scores on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview and Written Proficiency Test are highly recommended before a candidate applies for a DSAP position.


After an initial application review, an interview may be required at the discretion of the program director. The purpose of the interview is twofold: to offer applicants an opportunity to review the program with an advisor and help the advisor assess the applicant's potential for success as a graduate candidate. The bilingual programs have rolling admission, and candidates can start in the spring, summer, or fall semesters.

Admission to the Bilingual Education elementary or secondary cross-endorsement only or the MA degree programs requires the following:

  1. An earned BA degree.
  2. Proof of certification as a teacher.
  3. Proficiency in a language other than English.

Note: It is highly recommended that candidates take the ACTFL OPI and WPT prior to application for admission to the program. In the event that they do not achieve "Advanced Low" on the ACTFL OPI and WPT, they will be able to remediate this and develop their language proficiency while they are in the program and before they apply to the State for certification.

Candidates are expected to behave in accordance with the State of Connecticut's Teachers Code of Professional Responsibility. In addition, the Disposition Statement presented in this catalog is applicable to this program as it is to all programs in the School of Education and Human Development. Any matriculated candidate whose relevant academic productivity is marginal or inadequate, who does not embody a socially responsible professional disposition, or who demonstrates unsuitable personal qualities, may not be recommended for continuation in the program.