New ESL Certification Requirements for Teachers

English-Language Arts teachers must add English as a Second Language to their teaching certificate to supplement the growing number of non-English speaking students by April 1, 2014.

Texas now requires that all elementary school teachers be ESL certified and secondary teachers must receive special training. Klein ISD is requiring the certification for English teachers and new teachers but only special training for other core content teachers. English teacher Sharon Lukish, already ESL certified, said she believes that the increasing number of incoming immigrants to the district is only a factor in the new ESL certification requirements.

“Both teachers and students will benefit from Sheltered Instruction and Vested training which can provide extremely useful strategies that will help teachers promote successful English language learning students,” Lukish said.

Although bringing in more ESL teachers will help reduce the difficulty of understanding a foreign language for students, social studies teacher Karen Squyres said the techniques to be applied are not flawless since the students must face state mandated tests in which materials covered in a classroom setting will not apply.

“I don’t know that it will really make any difference at this point or not,” Squyers said. “There are so many other factors which influence the speed at which a non-native speaker acquires a new language that teachers have no control over. Some students adapt in two or three years while others may never completely adapt.”

Upon passing the test, teachers are eligible for a $500 stipend but the $120 paper-based test fee is deducted from that as well as costs to request the certificate and add it to an existing professional certificate. The Multilingual office reimburses paper-basted test registration fees but not computer-administered test registration fees.

“The way that certification works is that a teacher can take the test as many times as they need to, it’s not a one time thing,” assistant principal Jeff Bailey said. “The stipend is a one time thing though. It’s awarded upon completion and it doesn’t matter how many times it takes them to pass.”

Junior Saya Kobayashi said that when she first arrived from Japan, the biggest aid in learning another language was the patience few had to speak slowly to her. Kobayashi also said that she is confident in the new ESL requirements.

“Being a foreign exchange student, I know what it is like to feel lost so I definitely think this will be good for students who are forced to learn another language so quickly,” she said.

Teachers adding ESL to their certificate are encouraged to take part in review sessions prior to taking the test. The review sessions focus on the training of basic theories and procedures to teach students strategies to conquer an unknown language.