New Penn State online program prepares English language teachers

Graduate certificate provides entry-level credentials to teach English to adult speakers of other languages in the United States and worldwide

University Park, Pa. — For foreign-born immigrants, the ability to learn and master the English language can be key to finding a job and assimilating into American culture. Proficiency in English also is important in countries that compete in the global economy. To prepare people who have college degrees but little or no teaching experience to become teachers of English to adult language learners, Penn State has developed a graduate certificate program that is delivered entirely online through the World Campus.

"English is the language of globalization," said Karen E. Johnson, liberal arts research professor of applied linguistics and lead faculty for the new Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). "There is huge demand globally for English language instructors but not enough teachers to meet the demand. In China, for example, there has been an explosion of English language programs."

Johnson pointed out, "You can no longer go backpacking abroad and get a job teaching English. Today, an entry-level credential is essential for employment. Penn State's certificate program provides that credential."

The program is designed for people who want to teach English to adults in the United States or abroad and may be of particular interest to those looking for a career change or recent retirees interested in a second career.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15 percent growth rate through 2018 for teachers of adult literacy and remedial education, which includes TESOL teachers.

The program also prepares graduates to work in private English language schools, adult English language programs, worldwide exchange programs such as the Peace Corps and Fulbright Exchange and social service agencies that work with immigrants and multinational corporations.

Courses involve hands-on experiential learning opportunities, including having students observe English language classes and tutor non-English speakers. Students prepare teaching lessons, video themselves teaching English language learners and evaluate the quality of their instructional practices, Johnson explained. Courses are taught by Department of Applied Linguistics faculty, and the entire certificate program can be completed within nine months.

International students who want to enroll in the program need to demonstrate a high level of English language proficiency. "Requiring a fairly high score on the TOEFL and IELTS tests ensures that students in the online certificate program have the same level of English language proficiency as students in our resident Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language program," Johnson said.

Applications are now being accepted for spring 2011. For more information about the online Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, visit the website or call 814-867-4284.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 70 of Penn State's most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. Founded in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the University's 25th campus serving more than 9,600 students in all 50 states and 62 countries. For more information, visit Penn State World Campus online. Penn State World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated November 30, 2010