Wyoming's universities and its private sector collaborate to offer students global learning opportunities. Read on.
In 2011, the University of Wyoming accepted the American Council on Education’s (ACE) invitation to be a part of its Internationalization Laboratory. A Leadership Team at UW spearheaded the effort, and as UW is the only four-year public university in the state, the Team made it a priority to include constituents from around Wyoming in the process. The Team compiled an inventory of UW’s current internationalization activities and assessed the university’s climate for those activities; compiled input and data from stakeholders statewide regarding international education activities and needs; and developed a set of recommendations for action items to promote internationalization at UW and statewide.
Meetings with constituents revealed a rich array of international connections and activities. Service group student exchanges, faith-based service projects, Model UN, and a Business Ambassadors program, among other activities, were documented. Multinational businesses of all sizes, community colleges and non-profits such as Education-First shared information on their international connections. Participants were very enthusiastic about a collaborative partnership going forward with UW in order to provide international experiences they would otherwise be unable to accomplish, such as partnering on travel abroad programs, international programming throughout the state, and foreign-language and ESL instruction were all highlighted as potential areas of partnership.
Between the state’s K-12 system, community colleges, and the University of Wyoming, students in Wyoming are able to pursue opportunities for study in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. High school courses in Mandarin and Russian are offered on the state’s interactive video network, which reaches every high school in the state. There is one Spanish K-6 immersion program and one K-6 Mandarin immersion program. A second elementary school Mandarin immersion program is scheduled to begin in 2014.
Another initiative that is gaining ground in the state is the Dual-Language immersion (DLI) Program patterned after the highly successful program of that name in Utah. While the first elementary Spanish immersion program was begun in Jackson, there are a number of school districts that are either adopting or considering DLI for their elementary schools. The first Mandarin dual-language immersion program will open in the fall of 2013 at Paradise Valley Elementary School in Casper. For a full explanation of the program see the Utah Dual Language Immersion program.
Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
The University of Wyoming College of Education offers an English as a Second Language (ESL) K-12 Endorsement Program. The program is primarily for education professionals since it is an endorsement to the teaching license. However, UW also has a certificate program for non-teachers who have a bachelor's degree. As with states all across the nation, the number of English Language Learners in Wyoming is increasing at rates higher than any other social group in the state. In the last three years, nearly 100 teachers have completed the UW ESL program thanks, in large part, to a grant from the Wyoming State Department of Education. The program has also hosted three state-wide ESL program meetings. The college also offers teacher-preparation classes and opportunities to student teach to aspiring teacher candidates in most languages.
The Wyoming Business Alliance, a non-profit business association in Wyoming, advocates to the Wyoming Legislature each session about the importance of foreign language instruction and international education opportunities for K-12, the community colleges, and the University of Wyoming. The Wyoming Business Council, the government agency responsible for recruiting and retaining firms in the state, routinely offers training to businesses and entrepreneurs on doing business internationally.
The Natrona County School District in Casper offers afterschool Chinese instruction for elementary school children.
The website of the Wyoming parental force that is very active in the state in advocating for immersion programs for young children can be found on Facebook at Wyoming Dual Language Immersion Program-Parental Task Force.
Dr. Anne M. Alexander
Associate Dean, Outreach School
Director, International Programs
University of Wyoming, Cheney International Center Dept.
Global Competence Resources
Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) partnered to define global competence and the skills and abilities that students need to demonstrate to be globally competent.