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Juniata's ESL Certificate Program offers Ecuador Experience

(Posted October 13, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College has devised an innovative certificate program for English as Second Language (ESL) teachers, featuring an intensive three-week visit to Ecuador that will immerse participants in the culture and language of a foreign country.

?Students in English as a Second Language classes in our public schools face cultural differences that are just as hard to understand as the new language they are learning,? says Elizabeth Smolcic, director of Juniata?s Intensive English Program. ?In order for an ESL teacher to be effective, they should understand what it feels like to be in a situation where they are not familiar with the dominant culture and are not fluent speakers of the language.?

In order to better understand the cultural dislocation many ESL students face, participants in Juniata?s certification program will spend three weeks at the University of Otavalo, which is north of Ecuador?s capitol, Quito. This program offers formal classes and gives participants the opportunity to teach Ecuadorian elementary and high school students. Also, participants will stay in an Ecuadorian home during their visit.

To apply for this program, write the Intensive English Program, Juniata College, Oller Center for Peace and International Programs, 1700 Moore St., Huntingdon, PA 16652, or call (814) 641-3183.

?If teachers can gain insight into how language is taught in other countries, then that can only enhance their skills as teachers,? Smolcic says. ?Staying with local families will give them another cultural frame of reference that will be invaluable to their future classroom interactions with ESL students from diverse cultures.?

Recent Pennsylvania legislation has mandated that all teachers within the state who teach ESL classes must earn an ESL Program Specialist Certificate by September 2004. Many colleges and universities, as well as Intermediate Units within the state, are offering certification programs, but Juniata?s program offers an invaluable international cultural experience as part of the training.

Teachers who hold a Pennsylvania Instructional I or II certificate can take Juniata?s courses just to earn an ESL Program Specialist Certificate or they can enroll to earn the certificate and college credit.

The 12-credit program combines online instruction with several workshop-style weekend classes, an approach designed to allow teachers from across the state to complete the program.

Starting in February 2004, the program will offer the online course ?Linguistics for English Language Teachers,? which explores the basic units of the English language and explains how linguistics can help teachers develop appropriate goals and teaching techniques for ESL students. This course is followed by ?Introduction to Language Learning and Culture? which takes place in one weekend session.

The three-week international phase of the program is scheduled for the University of Otavalo from June 23 to July 17. Participants will need valid passport.

The certification course can be completed by attending two weekend courses: ?Diversity in Education: School, Family and Community? and ?Building a Professional Community of ESL Teachers.?

Fees for the program can vary depending on whether participants enroll in the credit or noncredit program or whether they have applied early. The noncredit total program will cost $2,300, which drops to $2,200 if participants apply by Dec. 10, 2003. The cost for the noncredit Ecuadorian program is $2,000, which drops to $1,900 if participants apply by Dec. 10, 2003. The total certificate program taken for college credit is $6,750, which drops to $6,600 if participants apply by Dec. 10, 2003. The Ecuadorian program taken for college credit will cost $4,000, which drops to $3,850 if participants apply by Nov. 10, 2003.

?Juniata?s Certificate Program allows teachers the opportunity to get a clear picture of what it?s like to be second-language students themselves,? Smolcic explains. ?Many times the cultural differences can be more of an obstacle to learning than learning the language itself.?

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.