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WLE programs: Ph.D.

FAQs-Frequently Asked Questions

The information below is provided all rights reserved. It is meant to be informative but it does not replace the official guidelines and requirements set up by the UW-Madison and the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. If you have any question or remark about the following questions and answers, please contact the WLE area program head, Professor Francois Tochon: ftochon@education.wisc.edu



What are your Expectations Regarding GRE Admission Scores and Other Admission Criteria?

Question: I will be taking the GRE and TOEFL in December. What emphasis do you put on these test scores and other aspects?

Response: GRE is but one of our admission criteria. We make admission decisions in a series of steps that take into account the very profile of each applicant. One weak aspect can be compensated with another, strong aspect in the profile. We are currently reviewing our admission criteria to be more broadly open to diversity. The writing sample that you will send is very important because we want to see that you are able to conceptualize, NOT patchwork what others have written. We are looking for creative individuals who have a strong commitment to humane values, and who can prove that they integrate their reflections into action. We appreciate receiving detailed letters of recommendation. We need to have the recommendation of your Master’s advisor and committee members, professors in crucial topic courses, but letters from non-profit organizations with which you collaborated can also be important. In addition, you can send samples of instructional materials that you created, or videos and pictures if you feel they will testify of your action and achievements.

When the C&I Department receives your file, it is dispatched to different faculty that could be your advisors. Each potential advisor will grade your file and may or may not express interest. You cannot access the program without an advisor interested in your profile, and in what you’d like to achieve. Therefore it is important to be specific and detailed about who you are (a biographical narrative is welcome), what interests you, what are your experiences and what you’d like to achieve. The second step is a second dispatch of your file to three members of the Graduate Studies committee who will grade your file according to specific aspects only like the letters of reference and your writing sample, and who will write a recommendation statement. The third step is a presentation of your file to the Graduate Studies Committee. In case of doubt, the potential advisor may be invited to defend your case for admission. If doubt subsists, a second round of evaluations will start with new reviewers. At the end of this process, the Committee will forward a recommendation about your case to the Department Assembly. The final step is getting approval from the C&I Department Assembly. For that purpose a summary of each file characteristics is projected on overhead with the assets and possible flaws highlighted with colors, but the names of the candidates do not appear. Only the names of the potential advisors do appear. The potential advisor may be called to interact with the Department Assembly to explain details that do not appear on the transparency. When the Assembly vote is positive, then a letter is sent to the School of Graduate Studies, upon which approval you will be sent a letter of admission.

The admission process is a lengthy one. Moreover new deadlines have been imposed by the SEVIS system for each international student admission as they need to be registered in a national computer database that can be consulted by U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Thus, it is important to send your file as soon as you can, when you have the required elements and recommendations. You can send your application to the Curriculum & Instruction Department's graduate studies program, 225 North Mills Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1795 USA. Fax: (608) 263-9992. Professor Gary Price is heading C&I Graduate programs. Please contact Marilyn Fearn for admission: mfearn@education.wisc.edu

For more admission information please refer to Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Program Admission Requirements Page


What role does Educational Technology play in the World Language Education Area?

Question: Would it be possible to focus on research in areas such as technology integration in foreign language education and teacher education, computer assisted language learning, and instructional design?

Response: Educational Technology applied to language learning, teaching, and teacher education is one of our assets. You may know that UW-Madison is pioneering the use of web-based portfolios for teacher certification. Thus there are plenty of opportunities to do research in Educational Technology applied to WLE. We do research on video study groups and digital video applications in foreign language education. Also we innovated in creating 16 Spanish instructional movies for use in K-3 Elementary classroom through either DVD, videotape or streaming video. The movies can be accessed from this web site with a login and password. In creating these movies, we were very attentive to ed tech pedagogy, that is using silence as well as sound and music, for the teacher to add to it while watching the movie. A pedagogical guide was created for each movie.

Educational Technology is included as an area in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Outstanding professors develop the Educational Technology courses at our department. Thus graduate students interested in a critical analysis of educational technology integration in foreign language education will find here a most fascinating niche.

We would be glad to to consider your application for admission if your credentials seem to fit the requirements. Please feel free to contact one of our several international doctoral students. They have their own pages on this web site.


Doing A Ph .D . in Multilingual Or Bilingual Education

Question: I am an interested in applying to a Ph . D . program candidate for in Bilingual Education Program . I recently contact the C&I Dept. at UW-Madison and was referred to you for advice. I know that UW-Madison has the a Ph.D. program in Curriculum and Instruction for the PhD program, , but I wasn't sure if that is what I look for suitable for me . I would like to pursue a Ph . D . in Bilingual or Multilingual Education. I am hoping that you will be able to Could you please give me some feedback information on what about the programs I should could pursue at Madison or if UW-Madison have has a program that would fit into match my interestS? If you could please give me some feedback, that would be wonderful!

Response: Some among our doctoral students work on multilingual and bilingual issues. You should distinguish ESL matters (English as a Second Language in the U.S. ) which represent a specific set of issues, from EFL matters (English as a Foreign Language) which concern TESOL-related issues outside the English-speaking community. For reasons of commodity , we separated ESL and EFL as two C&I programs, but you can ask may apply to have for advisors from both programs if you wish.

Moreover UW-Madison offers at least two Ph . D . programs that can be relevant in your case. (1) the Ph . D . Program in Curriculum & Instruction (area Foreign Language Education) is ranked first in the US . It has a socio-cultural orientation. It offers a great variety of education-oriented course s and some courses particular to language learning and teaching, with the possibility to attend courses in other departments/Colleges as well. (2) the new Second Language Acquisition ( SLA ) Ph . D . program (Second Language Acquisition) i n s cross-departmental and has its seat in the College of Letters and Sciences. There are C&I advisors as well in n the this new Ph . D . program. The SLA Ph . D . program is oriented on towards university teaching of languages at universities ; its emphasis is often rather quantitative and experimental, while the Ph . D . program in C&I program is more qualitative and broadly open. It deals mostly with teaching and learning languages at the elementary, middle school or high school levels, but can deal with language teaching in adult and College settings as well. The Ph.D. Program in SLA PhD involves a strict required series of courses with some in the target language and literature; the requisite is a comprehensive knowledge base in a specific language and literature (for instance in an Asian language).

The Ph . D . Program in C&I proposes a flexible choice of courses and a customized program that fits the student's needs. The requisite is preferably some prior educational or teaching experience, at any level.

If you want more feedback about your possibilities, please send us some more detailed information about your target language(s) and settings for research, the type of research topic and questions that might be of interest to you, and tell me something a summary about of your previous educational experiences and accomplishments .


What's the Ph . D . Course Work?

Question: I have been teaching English at junior college in Taiwan for 6 yearsand would like to pursue a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I checked the C&I departmental webpage, which said that the Ph . D . study in your department should focus on one area of study. I would be interested in Foreign Language Education or ESL. I want to know if you have more details about the coursework.

Response: You have the choice between ESL which is a U.S. specialty (teaching English to already immersed Spanish or Polish or Hmong learners in bilingual settings ,etc.) or EFL (English as a Foreign Language as taught in your country).

Marilyn Fearn, administrative counselor for the Ph . D . program will tell you the details of the program's requirements: mfearn@education.wisc.edu

The course work is integrated within the whole package of Curriculum & Instruction (C&I) graduate courses. Some of them are about WLE (foreign language education) or relevant fields. You must choose a major (WLE or ESL) and a minor (for instance SLA or second language acquisition which is at the College of Letters and Science (L&S) or Educational Policy or English & Applied Linguistics in the English Department...). The minor can be in any language & culture department, or in any dissertation-related field. These decisions can be made when you arrive or after your first semester. The Ph . D . program in C&I program is custom-made for each graduate student. It is build built and discussed with your advisor. It is possible to meet your advisor and discuss these issues a Please apply: a fter you were accepted admission . it is possible to meet and discuss these issues. In terms of what courses to choose, we advise our Ph . D . student s to first get a strong base in Curriculum & Instruction and Research Methods, and develop specific interests.


SLA Or WLE: What About Scholarships ?

Question: I hesitate between the SLA Ph . D . and the Ph . D . in C&I, WLE area. What are the differences regarding available scholarships?

Response: You can apply to both and see what comes out, and then decide. SLA has a precise deadline for applications. You should apply by the end of December. Please consult the SLA website. SLA Faculty try to provide scholarships to their top applicants.

C&I accepts applications all along the year and is a bit more flexible on admission procedures. However if you are a non-U.S. citizen, it would be wise to apply before March if you wish to start in the Fall because more time is now needed to process registration of international students through the SEVIS Security system. You can also start your doctoral studies in Spring.

The C&I department has currently no policy to guarantee scholarships in advance. 87% of the WLE
Ph. D. students received some support after just one semester at UW but nothing is guaranteed. About two thirds of the WLE doctoral students are TAs. Appointment as a T he A ( at salary of a 33% to 50% of the full-time rate) TA pays for provides tuition and gives an amount for affordable living remission and a stipend . Depending on the languages you speak it may easier or more difficult for you to find you a placement as a Teaching Assistant (TA). PAships and RAships that are available are usually in Spanish Education. Once Once your application will be is accepted , we would recommend that you apply for a TA position, either in the School of Education or in a Language Department in the College of Letters & Sciences. You can have a C&I advisor and a TAship in another department. We have a few non-TAship scholarships through the Spencer Foundation excellency program. Project assistant positions are advertised before each semester, your advisor can inform you as soon as they appear. Again, if you can teach a language that is in high demand (Spanish, English, French) there are great chances we can find you a teaching assistant position, but we will not guarantee it before you arrive, and sometimes it may take one semester or so before you get it, depending on your profile. You should know that we do care much about our students, and we will try our best to fulfill your legitimate desires.


I Cannot Come to UW-Madison Without without a Scholarship.

Question: I was happy to hear of my probable admission to the C&I program, which I believe is still pending a formal approval by the faculty. I was recommended to contact you regarding funding. Funding will be an important element in my decision making process, and I was wondering if you had any recommendations for actions that I could take now. Are there opportunities for teaching and research assistantships within the department? Where would you suggest that I look, and who should I contact?

Response: C&I is ranked as the best Department of its specialty in the country. We receive some 75 doctoral students a year who choose this program for its fame reputation . Among these students, maybe 70% get TAships but it is NOT C&I policy to make such arrangements before the student arrived arrives . Many among our students become TAs in other departments like Spanish and Portuguese, French & Italian, English (Applied Linguistics), Educational Policy or Educational Psychology. Currently, all WLE doctoral students are funded in a way or another but one who may soon be. Nonetheless , we cannot assure this will be your case. We deal case by case, and it may happen that we cannot find TAships for some students.

You can fill out a form at C&I about your availability for a TAship. Depending the languages you can teach, the form will be sent to other professors and other departments. We never have any problem placing Spanish Education students. There is a shortage in that field. You can contact the language pedagogy specialist in the language department of your choice, for instance Prof. Diana Frantzen in the Spanish & Portuguese Department; Prof. Sally Magnan in the French & Italian Department; or Prof. ... in the English Department.

100 and 200 level courses are short courses given 4-5 days a week. You will need language methods training, in the form of 820 and 821 L&S courses, given in the English language in the Department of French & Italian. The German Department does not accept TAs from outside their department. There are some episodic needs for Japanese and Korean in the East Asian Department. Some Title VI Centers like Global Studies, European Studies, South Asian Studies may need project assistants with language mastery. Feel free to contact them directly by e-mail. They might want to verify your language proficiency. You can call them, or have an appointment. May is a good time to contact them.

Also if you have been a research assistant in the past and know how to collect and process data, this may be an asset when we get grants.


Is The the C&I Ph.D. Program in C&I WLE Area appropriate For for Focus On on The the Post-Secondary Level ?

Question: Thank you for sending me the information on your doctoral program, including World Language Education. The question I have is whether the degree would be appropriate for focus on the post-secondary level? Once I have the doctorate (hopefully!) After getting my degree , I would prefer to either return to a my current teaching institution such as the one I am at currently or become a course coordinator/TA trainer for Spanish.

Response: The Department of Curriculum & Instruction does not have a policy that expressly prohibits emphases outside the K-12 range. Nevertheless, an obvious majority of faculty have traditionally emphasized that range or a subset of it. Some individuals assert a K-12 delimitation with strongly opinionated voices, other individuals argue that issues of curriculum and instruction transcend the age of the student. In UW's early history, the creation of Education within it seems to have been saliently tied to the needs of (K-12) school teachers. Nonetheless, while we understand that the core of our mission is at the K-12 level, we receive many requests for post-secondary studies in foreign language teaching and learning, with a specific curriculum & instruction orientation.

Some of our doctoral students have a strong rationale and very good reasons for researching post-secondary language studies: they may have a scholarship that stipulates it as a requirement, others have already been hired and their university employer wants them to develop research that will specifically relate with their future work. With the growing number of graduate students wanting to do WLE research at the College level, we had to build a policy for our studies area. We understand that some doctoral candidates with a post-secondary focus deliberately choose C&I rather SLA because C&I is more oriented towards qualitative studies, critical pedagogy and socio-cultural issues.

There are conditions for those students in the WLE area to do research outside the K-12 range:

(1) The student demonstrates that the dissertation topic fits nicely within a Curriculum & Instruction perspective; AND/OR the student demonstrates that no participants could be found in K-12 in the domain studied (for instance teaching Korean as a foreign language) OR that researching language curriculum & instruction at the College level is a requirement from his or her funding agency, scholarship, or future employer.

(2) The student must choose a Ph . D . minor that matches the post-secondary range. For instance: an SLA minor (adult & college level language acquisition); a minor in Applied Linguistics (English Department), etc.

(3) The Ph . D . advisory committee must include at least one member who is specialized in the targeted range and domain. The dissertation project must be approved by the advisory committee.

Within these conditions, the Ph . D . Program in C&I is open to focus areas on K-18 or higher. We have doctoral students who come from a College of Letters & Sciences and study foreign language curriculum & instruction in grades 13-18 at the college level. Thus the answer is YES.

The Ph . D . Program in C&I is a well-established program consistently ranked first in its specialty in the U.S. There is a great flexibility to choose different types of courses in C&I as well as courses in other departments. UW-Madison is the U.S. institution where the largest number of languages is currently taught: 62 as of 2004.

As noted earlier, UW-Madison has also a Ph . D . Program in SLA (second language acquisition) that is interdepartmental, and is exclusively related to grades 12-16, and a Ph . D . in English, Applied Linguistics. It is possible to pursue a Ph . D . in SLA and have a minor in C&I/WLE, and it is possible to pursue a Ph . D . in C&I/WLE and have a minor in SLA . We can advise doctoral students in both tracks.

Another difference is the goal for doing pursuing a Ph . D . : if you are already certified to teach K-12 and have some experience there, the Ph . D . in C&I is a better choice as it will open more avenues for jobs in both Colleges of Letters & Sciences and Schools of Education. The Ph . D . in SLA will be a better choice for somebody who for instance had never any experience in K-12, does not want to be certified to teach K-12, wants to teach in a College of Letters & Sciences in the future, has a linguistic orientation and wishes to do quantitative research with hard data primarily within a positivist framework.


I Have Been Admitted For for Graduate Studies, How Do I Choose Courses For for The the First Semester?

Question: I am a new graduate student. I received an admission letter last April, with the name of my future advisor. Now I have settled in University Family Apartment and I'm trying to choose courses in Fall semester. But before that, could you give me some advice on my study plan and information about one course.

Response: The program is custom-made, and each student applies on the web. Access to course admissions is available on your own student website, named "My Wisc.edu". For that purpose you need your student ID number, and will have to type a login password. You will choose your courses with your advisor according to what will matches your Ph. D . project and your orientation. Then you will send an e-mail to each course instructor asking to be authorized with your student ID number. The instructor will authorize you by e-mail. Alain Barr, the program secretary will type your ID number on the server as one student who is authorized to formally apply for the specific course chosen.

It would be better for you to apply for courses before you meet face to face with your advisor. You can negotiate your first semester courses by e-mail with the advisor. Indeed many courses are booked up before September. Research introductory courses are appropriate for the first semester. You can make a list of 4 to 5 courses that might be of interest to you and send it to your advisor by e-mail. Your professor will advise you for the best choices.

Remember, most courses require that you give your student ID to the course instructor and it is only after having been authorized that you can formally apply on the web. The fact that your request might be rejected on the web does NOT mean that the course is booked up: you need an admission number to apply on the web. In special cases, your advisor can verify your status with the chosen instructors if you did not succeed with your e-mail contacts.

To sum up, when you have selected a course, you e-mail the course instructor to ask for admission: you explain who you are, what provide is your student ID number, and the name of who is your advisor. Then the instructors will forward their authorization to Alaine Barr with your Student ID number. Alaine, the secretary, will enter your student ID in the system for your admission to this particular course. Thus enrollment is by e-mail. Usually Alaine will send you an e-mail that you have been authorized to apply on the UW web site. Students often apply for more courses and see afterwards whether there are schedule conflicts or which ones have been booked up. They may cancel one in September thus you may have another chance to be accepted in September if one slot gets free. Some courses are booked up very early as soon as they open. For your first semester it is not a bad policy to apply for more than three courses and drop one after you visited the first meetings. You can send a brief e-mail to the instructor explaining that you had to drop the course. Do not forget to cancel your application on the web! Indeed you cannot do it anymore after a certain deadline.


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