Q&A with Dr. Sarah Cohen
Title/s: Assistant Professor
Specialty Area: ELL and Bilingual Education
Where is your hometown?
I grew up in Massachusetts but have lived in Chicago most of my adult life.
Tell me a little about your research and areas of expertise.
My areas of interest and expertise include the importance of building curriculum around students' cultural and linguistic knowledge, methods for achieving this, and the learning theories that support this type of teaching.
How did you become passionate about these topics? What or who inspired you?
I taught in Chicago Public Schools for 12 years, and I have been inspired by the children I taught and the linguistic and cultural resources that they brought to my classroom. I have also been inspired by the work of Jim Cummins, especially by the collaborative research that he has done with teachers to develop multilingual and multimodal pedagogies.
What are the less obvious benefits of teachers being bilingual? How does this elevate classroom learning?
Being bilingual gives educators the ability to communicate with students and members of their families. Additionally, being bilingual allows educators to understand the process of learning more than one language and to identify with the challenges associated with the task of becoming bilingual and biliterate.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
I love working with students at all levels. It is particularly rewarding to see students develop new understandings that will help them in their teaching of diverse learners.
What course(s) are you instructing?
I instruct CIEP 471 (Theoretical Foundations of Teaching ESL/Bilingual), TLLSC 210 (Educational Policy), and TLLSC 220 (Individual Assessment and Instruction for Diverse Students).
What is one concept you want your Loyola students to learn from your course(s)?
I want my students to view diversity as an asset and understand the importance of maintaining students' first languages and cultures as a social justice issue.