The education department is encouraging students who plan to obtain their masters of arts in teaching to get an additional certification in English as a second language (ESL).
“One of the things that we are seeing””that we know is a national trend””is that the number of English language learners (ELLs) that teachers are serving is increasing,” said Rocio Delgado, associate professor of education.
“Demographically, San Antonio already represents what many U.S. communities will look like in the future. Current projections indicate that Hispanics will represent 17 percent of the U.S. population in 2020, with English language learners representing 25 percent of the school-age population in 2026,” wrote Georgia Earnest Garcia, former professor at the university of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in an article for the Reading Research Quarterly.
The number of students who do not speak English as their primary language is continually rising, and, with it, the number of teachers needed to be able to effectively teach them rises too.
“What we are trying to do is encourage more students to seek the ESL certification because if you go through the education program and you get your master of arts in teaching, what the department is finding is that the school districts are actually requiring teachers to get certified to work with English learners because of the growing population,” Delgado said.
To receive ESL certification from Trinity students must already be certified in elementary, middle or high school education and then take four extra classes to receive the ESL certificate.
“The education department has worked with other departments, identifying what courses would provide undergraduate students with the content they need to have for addressing the needs of English language learners,” Delgado said.
Two of the classes are taught in the education department and the other two are chosen by the student from a list of approved courses in different departments.
“The ESL certification attaches to the other areas because you will have students who are learning English and chemistry, or English and algebra or English and history. So the history, algebra and chemistry teachers need to have some background in terms of the different levels of proficiency and how to present information differently to the English learner so that they will understand and continue to develop both their English language skills and the content of the subject,” Delgado said.
Students planning to apply to the master of arts in teaching program have expressed interest in the ESL certification.
“I think it is really advantageous for students obtaining their master of arts in teaching to take at least one class about learning who the ELLs are and how you can accommodate them in your class, because the number of people who do not speak English at home is growing and it is important to try and accommodate them, both to challenge the mainstream kids who do speak English and acknowledge some of the words and concepts that ELLs may not be familiar with,” said junior Sarah Yaccino.
However, the number of students who are completing the requirements for the certificate is not quite what the department would like them to be, according to Delgado.
One misconception that may be discouraging students from completing the certification is the idea that the student must be fluent in the English learner’s native language.
“A lot of students think that in order to work with English language learners, you need to speak Spanish or you need to be majoring in Spanish,” Delgado said. “But, the courses that are taught focus on how to make the English language comprehensible to the English learner.
The ESL courses and classes aim to allow students to be able to reach various individuals, regardless what langauge they speak.
“The principles of the ESL courses teaches the principles of learning a second language, whether it be English, Spanish, French or any other language,” Delgado said.