TESOL certification desirable for schools

HUNTINGTON, Ind. "No hablo Inglés" in Spanish can turn into "I speak English" with the help of a TESOL teacher.

TESOL, which stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a popular program at Huntington University among a variety of majors but especially those studying education.

The TESOL certificate equips students and professionals for overseas English teaching, community-based English instruction in the U.S., and church and non-profit outreach to refugees, immigrants and U.S.-born English learners (ELs).

For public school educators or students majoring in education, HU's Institute for TESOL Studies (ITS) offers state certification in teaching English learners. The EL certification enables them to teach ELs in the public school setting.

"More and more education majors are adding EL on their license," said Shoshannah McKinney, associate director of the Institute for TESOL Studies. "It's becoming more desired by administrators."

Each year, HU sends a survey out to the graduating class of the previous year to learn employment statuses of the students one year out of school. One of its observations was that there is an increasing trend in public schools requiring TESOL certification for teachers. Click here to see the full survey.

All education majors at HU choose a concentration, such as special education or math. But they also have the option of adding an additional certification in EL to their teaching license.

"Indiana is currently third in the nation for percentage growth of English language learners in the school system," McKinney said. "In the last five years, there's been a 400 percent growth rate."

Many education majors with EL certification that student taught this past spring found that they were not paired up with EL certified teachers. Teachers with EL certification are desirable in school districts because not many current educations have EL on their teaching license, and EL learners in the U.S. are rapidly increasing.

Education majors make up about half of all TESOL students. The other half are comprised of majors such as ministry, social work and business. TESOL classes are growing because it can be paired with any degree making it more marketable.

"I find that more students get interested in it after the first class," McKinney said. "If you think it might be helpful, just take the first class and see."

A common misconception about TESOL is that students need to be familiar with a foreign language.

"You don't need to know another language for TESOL," McKinney said. "I always encourage my students to be language learners as well as language teachers."

The TESOL program at HU started in fall 2009, and the first certificates were issued in summer 2010. As of 2014, 40 certificates have been given to students. There are currently 54 students in the program which includes traditional undergraduate certification, Master of Education in TESOL education and adult classes in Fort Wayne.

Out of those 54 students, 25 are education majors or currently licensed teachers in the adult classes. Of the 40 certificates issued, 18 have been to education majors or currently licensed teachers. Those numbers are continuing to climb.

For more information about HU's TESOL program, visit www.huntington.edu/tesol.