About the Program
This program provides the chance to learn about current ESL instructional strategies and use them with English learners in the classroom. Teachers learn how to adapt content and language instruction, build awareness of language learning processes, and apply those processes in the classroom. During the international immersion experience, the community of Otavalo, Ecuador, offers an environment in which teachers explore the challenges and triumphs of second language and culture learning.
The TESL program with immersion experience offers the following special learning opportunities:
- a mentored teaching practicum with Ecuadorian learners of English
- second-language study (Spanish or Kichwa, a Native American language that was adopted by the Incas and, in its various dialects, is widely spoken today)
- a homestay with an Ecuadorian family and ethnographic culture exploration
- networking with mentors and other participants, and sharing best ESL teaching practices
- exploring the Andes — a subtropical cloud forest, volcanic peaks, indigenous cultures, and handcraft markets
All the certificate courses conducted in Ecuador are taught in English. They include a review of current best practices for teaching English language learners in the public school classroom.
The weekend courses at University Park establish a structure for future collaboration among teachers as they implement ESL teaching strategies in their classrooms and school districts.
Beginning in the spring semester (January), the first course is offered as a 'blended' online course in which instruction is both online and face-to-face with weekend sessions on the University Park campus. During the summer semester there are weekend class sessions at University Park prior to departing for Ecuador. Participants will also complete assignments and course activities prior to departing for the immersion experience.
The intensive five-week immersion experience in Ecuador begins in mid-June and includes an observed teaching practicum with Ecuadorian English language learners and courses on ESL teaching methods, second language acquisition, and culture in the classroom. Students will also participate in cultural exploration activities and language classes (in Spanish or Kichwa).
After returning from Ecuador, there is one final weekend class session on the University Park campus.
Pennsylvania ESL Program Specialist Certificate
The ESL program specialist certificate at Penn State may be completed in two ways: 1) through a traditional program with all classes held on campus (visit www.ed.psu.edu/educ/c-and-i/lcs/psesl for information on this option), or 2) by enrolling in the new intensive option which offers weekend and online courses and an international field experience in Ecuador.
Penn State's ESL certificate program has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation. The program includes five courses and covers the competencies in key domains that the state has outlined for the ESL program specialist certificate:
- Observing, Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction
- 60 hours of field experience
After successfully completing the Penn State TESL program, certified teachers may appeal to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for its endorsement. To learn more about Pennsylvania's requirements for teaching ESL, view the new PDE ESL Program Specialist Guidelines. At the successful completion of the program, each participant will receive a "Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language Certificate" from Penn State and the Universidad de Otavalo.
Note: Our participants normally include both in-service teachers and pre-service education majors. So that we can offer intensive mentoring during the practice teaching, we limit the number of participants each year.