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Tuesday, October 18, 2011 (read 608 times)
 

Bilingual University to open in the US capital

by Chloe Bustin

A bilingual university in the United States is to open its doors next month in Wheaton, just north of Washington DC, Maryland. Originating from Puerto Rico, the ‘Sistema Universitaria Ana G Mendez’ (SUAGM) is a program that divides classes in equal parts between English and Spanish. The aim of bringing this system to the United States is to try to offer Spanish speakers the opportunity to not only obtain a university degree but also develop their English language skills, thus enabling them to be able to use both languages with increased flexibility.

Whilst this is not the first bilingual university from SUAGM in the United States, the new university is key in highlighting the scope and importance of Spanish within the United States. There are currently three SUAGM Universities in Florida, but with an ever increasing Hispanic community, the directors of the institution wanted to accommodate the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the metropolitan area of Washington DC, which has the greatest concentration of Central Americans in the United States.

The system has so far been a success, with an average enrolment of 1,700 students, 373 bachelor’s degrees and 303 master’s, and enrolment numbers are continuing to grow. Many of the students who enrol at the universities have been educated in Spanish in their native country, but on arriving in the United States, have found the transition to the American education system difficult. One of the key services that the universities offer is the evaluation of credentials or qualifications from other countries ensuring that they are officially recognised by American companies. 

All students have to do a language test evaluating their level of Spanish and English, thus assigning them to the correct levels. Once enrolled, the course is split 50/50 between the two languages, meaning that students both learn more English and consolidate and improve their Spanish. The bilingual interaction has a clearly positive effect on the development of critical thinking and overall performance in all subjects, and with the ever increasing demand for bilingual professionals, the university system is a great stepping stone for students, offering great emploment prospects.                                                              

The SUAGM university in Maryland will open its doors on 16th November, with classes beginning in January 2012.


Keywords: suagm, spanish, spanish in the usa, hispanic population, hispanic community, spanish language, bilingual university, bilingual education.

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