Feb 01, 2023  
College Catalog 2022-2023 
College Catalog 2022-2023

Graduate Certificate in ESL Program Specialist K-12

The Education Program offers a post-baccalaureate certificate program leading to an ESL Program Specialist K-12 Certificate.

This program is designed for in-service teachers seeking further understanding of pedagogy, resources, methods, and curriculum designed to allow English Learners access to equitable educational opportunities. The program is a combination of coursework and field experiences that will reveal the importance of language and culture in the education of English Learners.

It affords students the advantages of a unique and practical curricular focus in curriculum and instruction supported by a constructivist course sequence that promotes individualized assessments, real application to current classroom practice, and applied research relevant to grade bands across the PK-12 continuum.

Student Learning Outcomes for the ESL Program Specialist K-12 Certificate Program (as required by PDE; please note that these are outcomes to be met across the entire program duration):

Students will be able to, as it relates to language:

  • Recognize language as an integrative system made up of component parts (phonology, morphology, syntax, pragmatics and semantics) and apply this knowledge to identify aspects of English that are difficult for ELs.
  • Support ELs in communicating effectively for social and academic purposes by enhancing oral/aural skills, i.e., recognizing and using syntactic structures, the English sound system, and other communication skills.
  • Support ELs in understanding and using appropriate register variation and language use within different contexts and for different audiences, including formal, informal, social, and academic.
  • Develop a variety of instructional techniques to assist ELs in developing and using vocabulary (idioms, cognates, and collocations) and L2 literacy appropriately in written and spoken language, including contextualized practice with focused feedback.
  • Apply knowledge of the principles of first and second language acquisition, and of the differences between first and second language acquisition, to the design of instruction for ELs.
  • Apply strategies that recognize the role of students’ L1s as a resource for language and literacy development and for communicating with invested participants (students, families, volunteer support, and bilingual aides).


Students will be able to, as it relates to culture:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the processes of negotiating one’s cultural identity.
  • Differentiate among the varied processes of cultural transitions, including acculturation, assimilation, biculturation and resistance.
  • Identify negative effects of prejudice, stereotyping and ethnocentrism on language learners’ successful learning in schools and promote pro-social classroom learning environment.
  • Recognize cultural bias in curriculum and materials and use a range of resources to deliver instruction.
  • Demonstrate effective intercultural communication skills to appreciate diverse cultures.
  • Develop effective techniques for communication between home and school by recognizing and supporting the preferred mode of communication of the parent/guardian (written, oral, L1, L2, etc.) and utilizing interpretation and translation resources appropriately.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the interdependence of language and culture to facilitate students’ transition between the home culture/language and U.S. school culture/language.
  • Integrate diverse ways of learning and multiple cultural perspectives, including building on ELs’ strengths, into the planning/adapting of curriculum and instructional methods.


Students will be able to, as it relates to Observing, Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction:

  • Design standards-aligned instruction in English utilizing the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, the English Language Proficiency Standards, and Can-Do descriptors in relation to the continuum of proficiency levels.
  • Plan effective lessons in all domains (Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening) using a variety of materials, texts, activities, strategies and assessments appropriately based on consideration of learners’ differing English language proficiency, L1 literacy and prior knowledge, age and developmental stages, grade levels, learning styles and socio-cultural needs.
  • Plan ESL instruction and assessment specific to the reading and writing needs of students with limited formal schooling (LFS) or interrupted formal education (SIFE).
  • Recognize, plan and implement key elements of ESL lesson design, which include: a) Content and language objectives; b) Scaffolding, supports; c) Activating and building on prior knowledge; d) Formative and authentic assessments; and e) Academic and social interaction at the English Language Proficiency Level of the student, specifically in the domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Differentiate instruction based on formative assessment of student progress, re-teaching as necessary for students who need additional time and alternative approaches to meet learning outcomes.
  • Develop and implement communicative activities in K-12 classrooms that promote authentic interactions for social and academic purposes and that integrate all language skills, i.e., reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
  • Plan and provide evidence-based reading and writing instruction that includes various cueing systems (i.e. graphic, syntactic, and semantic cues) appropriate for ELs.
  • Select, analyze and adapt a variety of authentic sources and tools to enhance oralcy and literacy development for ELs, including but not limited to: a) Various popular texts, including fiction, non-fiction, comic-book style, etc.; b) Visual and/or original source materials; c) L1 materials; d) Music; and e) Media and multi-media, including technological resources and electronic communication.
  • Explain and model explicit comprehension and learning strategies that assist students with learning tasks in all subject areas.
  • Collaborate with and provide guidance to content teachers of ELs related to using English language proficiency standards (ELPS), appropriate supports, and adaptations which provide students access to content instruction, tasks and assessments at their English language proficiency level.


Students will be able to, as it relates to Assessment:

  • Use multiple and appropriate formative and summative assessment measures for a variety of purposes, including classroom and student self-assessment and technology-based assessment (e.g., audio, video, computer) at various grade levels.
  • Apply appropriate testing practices for English Learners including: a) Determination of the validity and reliability of tests to make assessment related decisions for ELs; b) Knowledge and application of alternate and multiple assessment measures to ascertain what ELs’ know and can do; c) Appropriate interpretation and use of data to support ELs; and d) Assessment of ELs’ test-taking challenges and creation of strategies and scaffolding techniques to address these challenges.
  • Recognize, apply and share state-allowed testing accommodations for ELs at varying proficiency levels.
  • Identify and use multiple assessment resources and measures (including research, native language evaluation, Pennsylvania English Language Proficiency Standards, PA Academic Achievement Standards, and WIDA ACCESS for ELs’ performance rubrics, among others) to make informed decisions concerning an EL’s progression through a language instruction program (identification, placement, progress, achievement, exit, and monitoring) observing all applicable national and state requirements.
  • Implement a variety of assessment tools as part of classroom instruction (observation checklists, reading logs, video spreadsheet software, self- and peer-assessment, among others), planning for classroom practice of each technique, to record progress towards ELs’ English language proficiency and academic achievement.
  • Inform parents/families, using their preferred mode(s) of communication, of federal and state-mandated testing, and the implications of such testing, for ELs in a language instructional program.
  • Identify accountability measures and assessment targets in order to analyze real-time EL data in order to make programmatic and instructional adjustments.
  • As part of an instructional planning team, analyze data from various EL groups (disaggregated, where appropriate, by language proficiency level, grade level, instructional site, etc.) to evaluate the effectiveness of an ESL program or language teaching methodology.
  • Identify and use a variety of resources and research, including native-language assessment and accommodated assessments, to inform decisions about language differences, giftedness, learning disabilities, or other qualities of ELs which would entitle them to participation in school programs.
  • Understand and share multiple measures of assessment data, collected over time, to document EL growth and progress before considering a referral to a special education or other remedial program.
  • Evaluate and share data, including strengths and weaknesses of each model, with parents/family and other members of a team making informed decisions on referral of an EL for special education or gifted services.


Students will be able to, as it relates to professionalism:

  • Use research in the field of ESL to articulate a personal educational philosophy for instructing ELs.
  • Conduct focused action research in the classroom following applicable procedures for protection of human research participants.
  • Create a personal professional development plan based on interests and reflection, taking advantage of opportunities to support those goals in professional associations and other academic organizations.
  • Collaborate with general and specialist school staff (e.g., multidisciplinary faculty teams) for the purpose of establishing instructional programs appropriate for ELs at a variety of English proficiency levels.
  • Recognize the need to advocate for ELs and their families including full access to school resources; inform colleagues in instructional teams.
  • Develop classroom activities that could involve families and provide ELs and their families with information, support, and assistance (e.g., advocate for the students and their families, help families participate in their school/community through the use of bilingual paraprofessionals or interpreters, or engage with community members and policymakers with respect to issues affecting ELs).
  • Model the use of culturally and linguistically responsive techniques and dispositions, so as to support the learning of other school professionals working with ELs.