I am Luke Boggess—a senior in the English education program who is also working on receiving his English as a Second Language License. In this post, I will explain my personal experience through the ESL licensure program. My hopes are to help you decide whether or not this would be the best step for your educational experience/professional development. In an attempt to provide you with a more personal understanding of what the ESL courses have to offer, I will break down the 21 credit hours required to receive the license so you will be able to see how the courses will benefit you in the field of ESL education, as well as your content area.
To start, I think it is appropriate to explain how I got involved in the ESL program. Back in the day, I was in my EDSEC 150 course when a nice old lady from the Teachers’ College came to discuss some educational opportunities. She addressed a number of options with handouts, such as the Special Ed minor, study abroad opportunities, etc. To be completely honest, my “do-the-bare-minimum-and-get-out-of-college” freshman mindset got the best of me, and I wasn’t really paying attention. That was until the white haired woman said, “If you are an English Ed major, I strongly suggest you consider the ESL program because it is only a few extra classes you will have to take.”
As I looked over the light blue handout containing the list of the ESL licensure courses, I saw that the lady from the Teacher’s College was right. ENG 220 and ENG 321 were already required courses for the English Ed majors. Furthermore, ENG 320 could count for the English Ed majors’ 300 level required elective course. This only left me with four additional classes needed to get the license. ONLY FOUR CLASSES!!! So when the next course enrollment came around, I jumped right in without consulting my advisors or anyone (not necessarily recommended, but I just wanted to illustrate the accessibility of the program for those who are interested in trying it out).
ENG 320, Introduction to Linguistic Science, was the first course I took in the program. Though I will admit this does not sound like the most exciting class in the world, I must say, don’t judge a book by its cover. In this class, we studied the basics of language: how it is used, the different concepts, the history of it, and how it is constantly changing. In my opinion, this is the rebel linguistics course. It teaches you the rules so you can break them. After you learn the content in this course, you will see how fun it is to confront a linguistic snob who says, “You can’t end a sentence with a preposition.” And you say, “Well actually, that idea is based on a Latin rule which carries no real weight in our developing English language, so preposition at the end or not, the sentence will still make sense if I want it to.”
ENG 436 and 437 were next two courses I took (take these classes together). These two classes focused less on language and more on the process of language learning. In 436 we were required to find a language-learning student and “study” them. Through class readings, discussions, and interactions with the student, we were able to analyze their proficiency levels and why they were struggling with certain linguistic characteristics. In 437, we learn how to work with the students’ proficiency levels and how to assist them with their acquisition of the language.
The great thing about these courses is the experience you gain. The professors place you in one of the local schools with an ELL (English Language Learner). You go into the school and work with the student one-on-one. This was a great experience for me because I really got to see what it’s like being an ESL “pull-out” instructor. I worked alongside counselors, teachers, and administrators trying to create a positive educational experience for the ELL.
ENG 457 and FL 396 were the next courses I took (take these together). They were kind of the “step above” 436 and 437. FL 396 is a course dedicated to using technology and assessment in foreign language learning. I learned more about assessment and its purpose from this course than all of my other education courses combined. Along with FL 396, ENG 457 provided me with the opportunity to put the knowledge I gained from all of my ESL education classes into practice. I was placed in a local school with a group of language learners. We met twice a week. I was given the freedom to see what the students needed to learn and how I wanted to go about teaching them. Through this differentiated project based course, I developed a great relationship with the students, learned a lot about teaching, and enjoyed every minute of it. To my knowledge, there is no other education program that offers you this kind of hands-on experience.
Dr. Lynne Stallings is a great professor and head of the ESL program. Leading by example, she completely changed my view of how to teach and the purpose of education. Though she was very challenging at times, she challenged my classmates and I for the best. She pushed us to go outside our comfort zones in order to make us better teachers. And she was successful.
I hope I was able to shed personal light on the program and these courses. I know the course descriptions on Course Planner never really get at the heart of the course. And even still, you would have to experience the program itself to truly appreciate its value.