University officials and representatives of Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT) signed an agreement Tuesday for an online program that helps Spanish speakers learn to speak English.
“As you can see, this partnership has many benefits to both our organizations, helping us both to serve our students and our community so much more,” Dr. Sam Garcia, department chair of curriculum and kinesiology, said during the event in front of the Main Campus Building.
The program, Yes al Inglés, is available online via the Internet and costs $54. Students who enroll in the program are expected to complete the modules in nine months. However, the program is self-paced and remains accessible to those who enroll for one year.
The English online course consists of modules which students can complete at their own pace.
“Students learn through different technologies, for example: text messaging, Internet chatting, blogging and interacting with other learners in the community,” according to the program’s press release.
President Maria Hernandez Ferrier said, “With this new partnership between MATT and Texas A&M-University, Yes all Inglés, like you’ve heard, strives to bridge the gap of understanding between the U.S. and Mexico through English language education.”
Garcia said once students complete all the program requirements, students enrolled in the online course will be certified through the university and given a certificate of completion.
“Furthermore, this partnership will provide our faculty an additional venue to conduct important research on how people acquire a second language and also allow our students to utilize the modules themselves in the preparation as pre-service teachers in order to meet the needs of our growing population of English language learners,” Garcia said.
Student teachers enrolled in the School of Education’s bilingual education program will be able to view the modules to best meet the needs of Spanish speakers learning English, Garcia said.
Ferrier talked about her grandmother who came to the United States in 1910 during the Mexican Revolution, adding that the Hispanic population is the largest and fastest growing minority group.
“We know, too, that without the command of English, the dreams of our grandparents, our parents and those who sacrificed so much to get here, will never realize their full potential,” Ferrier said. “So it’s a tremendous honor for this university to join in this great effort with Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together.”
Dr. Raul Ramos, member of the board of directors for MATT, said the organization, founded by Alonso Ancira, chairman of the board, serves to bridge the residents of the United States and Mexico. Ramos added that the organization aims to help students become proficient in English so they can achieve their goals.
Headquartered in San Antonio, MATT is a bi-national, non-partisan and non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage Mexicans and Americans to work together. The group focuses on programs related to education, immigrant integration, economic development and public policy.
Ferrier and Garcia presented Ancira with a certificate at the end of the program and Mariachi Campanas de America performed for the audience.
About 100 students and faculty attended the event and the reception that followed.