|TEACHERS CAN TAKE COURSES ONLINE THAT LEAD TO ESL ADD-ON
CERTIFICATION AT SOUTHEASTERN
HAMMOND -- Teachers can take courses that lead to add-on certification in English as a Second Language through a unique online program at Southeastern Louisiana University.
The program, the only one in Louisiana and neighboring states to be offered entirely via the Internet, is open to all teachers who work or plan to work with students of limited English proficiency (LEP), said Rossana Boyd, coordinator of the ESL and Internet Alternative Certification programs in Southeastern's College of Education and Human Development.
Boyd said "Methods for Teaching English as a Second Language" (EDUC 413/534), one of four courses needed for add-on ESL certification, will be offered twice this summer during the June 5-30 and during the July 2-31 term sessions. Registration for Southeastern's summer session is scheduled June 3-4.
Teachers can register for the ESL courses by contacting Annie Moschitta in Southeastern's Office of Continuing Education, 1-800-256-2771 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boyd said two more courses, "Introduction to Linguistics and Modern Grammars" (ENGL 414/524), and "Cross-Cultural Communication" (COMM 410/510), will be offered in fall 2002 through collaborations among the departments of Teaching and Learning, English, and Communication. She said Southeastern also offers a master's degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in ESL.
Boyd, a native of Honduras who has more than 20 years of experience in education, said that approximately 75 students took ESL online courses last semester, logging in from surrounding parishes and cities such as New Roads, La., and Jackson, Miss. If out of state teachers take up to six hours of coursework via distance learning, Southeastern waives their out of state tuition fee.
"Online courses, which are taught using Blackboard 5 technology, are perfect for classroom teachers who often do not have access to a nearby university or who find it difficult to schedule time for an on-campus class," Boyd said.
Boyd said that Louisiana's new education accountability system and the need for students to pass high stakes tests such as the LEAP exam have increased school districts' and their teachers' concern about students with limited English proficiency.
"Under the new accountability system, these students can only be deferred for one year and after that they are expected to pass the tests even though their English proficiency may not be on par with their English native speaking classmates," Boyd said. "Based on research of many years, we know that it takes limited English proficient students three to five years to acquire the academic English language needed to perform well in school."
"There are many concerned educators who want to further their education and training to learn more about how to assist LEP students so these students will not be left behind," Boyd said.
Boyd said Southeastern's ESL certification courses provides teachers with effective instructional and assessment strategies and ways to adapt lessons so that LEP students can comprehend the material.
"LEP students learn fast, but they are often overwhelmed at first," Boyd said. "Through our program, teachers learn how to use visuals and hands-on activities that help students connect concepts with words."
Boyd said Southeastern is surrounded by school districts that are home to 2,000 students who are considered limited English proficient, while there are more than 7,000 LEP students representing some 80 different language groups throughout the state. She said the university's home parish, Tangipahoa, has the largest migrant student population in the state, and many of those students make Tangipahoa their permanent home.
"School communities such as Independence, Natalbany, Nesom and Midway are experiencing increasing numbers of LEP students," Boyd said.
In Livingston Parish, Boyd said the LEP population has doubled in the last three years and one itinerant ESL teacher and two paraprofessionals serve all 60 students.
"East Baton Rouge Parish, 45 miles west of Southeastern, serves around 1,400 LEP students," Boyd said. "It is also a refugee resettlement site experiencing an increasing number of new language minority groups, such as Afghan, Bosnian, Servo Croatian, and Somalian."
Boyd, who publicizes the program on state, regional and national Internet listservs, said that as a result one student from Pennsylvania and three from Indiana have already registered for the course the summer course.
"Being a full time teacher and living so far away from the university campus, this course has been a blessing for me," said East Baton Rouge Parish teacher Erena Messina. "I think the university has done a phenomenal job with their ESL program and their effort in making this certification process so convenient and enlightening for its students."
For additional information about ESL certification, contact Dr. Boyd at (985) 549-5736, email@example.com or SLU 10671, Hammond, LA 70402. Information is also available online at www.selu.edu/Academics/Education/TEC/certific.htm.
Press release available online at www.selu.edu/news/spring02.html