English as a Second Language (ESL) Program Specialist and Leadership Postbaccalaureate Credit Certificate Program

Person-in-ChargeKarin Sprow Forté
Program CodeCLESL



The primary goal of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)-approved ESL Specialist and Leadership Certificate Program, a U.S. Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), National Professional Development grant-funded program, is to prepare mainstream PreK-12 teachers to work effectively with English learners (ELs), their families, and communities. The curriculum includes:

  1. Legal, historical, and socio-cultural background and history of ELs in the U.S.;
  2. English language structure and linguistics;
  3. Second language acquisition;
  4. ESL curricular, instructional, and assessment strategies and best practices; and
  5. ESL instructional leadership, action research, and advocacy with EL populations.

The curriculum focuses on helping PreK-12 teachers do the following:

  1. become ESL instructional leaders by learning, understanding, and incorporating curricular, instructional, and assessment strategies specifically tailored for ELs;
  2. learn to develop and implement ESL action research projects within their own classrooms; and
  3. develop cultural competence, engage in active outreach, and become advocates for ELs.

Effective Semester: Summer 2017
Expiration Semester: Spring 2022

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies. International applicants may be required to satisfy an English proficiency requirement; see GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

  • A baccalaureate degree in education or education-related field of study from a regionally accredited U.S. institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA;
  • official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended;
  • Level I or II teaching certification in Pennsylvania; and
  • a written statement describing the applicant's teaching situation, demographic information about the school district and English Language Learners (ELLs), and why the applicant is applying to obtain the ESL specialist certificate.

Certificate Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in Graduate Council policy GCAC-212 Postbaccalaureate Credit Certificate Programs.

Students are required to take all five courses (15 credits) in sequence.

Required Courses
EDUC 466
EDUC 467English Language Structure for English as a Second Language Teachers3
EDUC 468Language Acquisition for English as a Second Language Teachers3
EDUC 469Teaching Methods and Assessment of English as a Second Language3
EDUC 475ESL Leadership, Research and Advocacy3
Total Credits12


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Learning Outcomes

  1. ESL FOUNDATIONS: Students will be able to identify and express the legal, historical, and cultural foundations and implications of English as a Second Language (ESL) in the US; compare instructional strategies, curriculum, and assessments; and explain foundations of first and second language acquisition, the role of culture, values, and traditions in learning.
  2. LANGUAGE: Students will be able to apply knowledge of language as an integrative system made up of component parts (phonology, morphology, syntax, pragmatics, and semantics) to support English learners (ELs) in difficult aspects and contextual uses of English.
  3. CULTURE: Students will identify the processes of negotiating cultural identity, cultural transitions, cultural bias, and negative effects of prejudice, stereotyping, and ethnocentrism; utilize effective intercultural communication skills and integration of diverse ways of knowing and learning; and develop effective techniques for communication between home and school.
  4. OBSERVING, PLANNING, IMPLEMENTING, AND MANAGING INSTRUCTION: Students will build relationships with and provide guidance to content teachers of ELs related to implementing 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.
  5. ASSESSMENT: Students will implement a variety of assessment tools as part of classroom instruction (observation checklists, reading logs, video spreadsheet software, self-and peer-assessment, among others), plan for classroom practice of each technique,and record the ELs’ progress towards English language proficiency and academic achievement.
  6. PROFESSIONALISM: Using research-based strategies, students will advocate for ELs and their families, develop classroom activities involving families and ELs to provide information, support, and assistance, and model the use of culturally and linguistically responsive techniques and dispositions, so as to support the learning of other school professionals working with ELLs.

Professional Licensure/Certification

Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map.


Campus Abington
Graduate Program Head Joy K Fraunfelter
Program Contact

Robin Melinda Burgess
1600 Woodland Road
Abington PA 19001
(215) 881-7401

Program Website View
Campus Harrisburg
Graduate Program Head Karin M Sprow Forte
Program Contact

Karin M Sprow Forte
777 W. Harrisburg Pike
Middletown PA 17057
(717) 948-6295

Program Website View