Many Churches in the South Offer Introductory Training for Volunteer ESL Teachers

Churches in the South have long served as forces of cultural change in their communities. Church members were pivotal in the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Current efforts frequently involve integrating refugees and immigrants into the community. One way to do this is to teach them English, so many people serve as ESL volunteers.

One such course takes place in Pelham, Alabama each summer at the local Baptist Church. The Shelby Baptist Association offers a two-day course in teaching ESL at the First Baptist Church. The church offered its most recent course in August 2016.

While the certification of completion is not enough to qualify you to formally become a full-time ESL teacher, you can use it to volunteer. This type of training is also a good first step if you want to pursue a career teaching ESL. Attendees who completed the 11-hour course received their certification from the North American Mission Board.

The Baptist Association’s Rebekah Parr organized the course which provided training by an ESL instructor from the University of South Alabama and the University of Mobile. Instructor Kimberly Wilson also serves as the volunteer director for the Mobile Baptist Association’s International Language School.

Volunteer Robin Eberhardt took the course in the summer of 2015. She learned the skills she needed to be able to volunteer as an ESL teacher at the Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Eberhardt found the course to be “very thorough,” and she appreciated being provided with a manual on what was taught. She uses her training to teach beginning ESL students weekly from September through May.

Specific training provided included:

  • Preparing lessons
  • Receiving guidance on which books to teach from
  • Providing vocabulary in ways that students are more likely to retain

$2.2-Million Grant Will Educate ESL Paraprofessionals in New Mexico

The U.S. Department of Education recently issued a five-year $2.2-million grant which will allow school paraprofessionals the chance to complete their Bachelor of Education degrees while also earning an ESL endorsement. Under the terms of the grant, known as the 2+2 Career Ladder Teacher Licensure Program, teaching assistants from the Española and Santa Fe public school districts in New Mexico, will have an on opportunity to earn the ESL endorsement along with an associate degree from Santa Fe Community College and a bachelor degree from Highlands University.

“There’s a very high need for ESL teachers to work with the growing number of English language learners in elementary schools in Santa Fe and Española,” said Rodolfo Chavez, senior associate with Highlands University’s Center for Education and Study of Diverse Populations (CESDP). Chavez, who is also the project director for the grant, said that 30 bilingual ESL paraprofessionals will be selected and given the coaching and support they need to earn a B.A. in education from Highlands. In addition, the paraprofessionals will complete their ESL endorsement and teaching license.

An additional 30 tenured teachers from the two school districts will be recruited to act as mentors to the grant recipients. Chavez said that the mentorship component is integral in helping the paraprofessionals understand and satisfy the unique learning needs of ESL students. “We will prepare ESL paraprofessionals to become exceptional teachers who provide high-quality instruction to students,” he added.

Chavez, a seasoned grant writer, earned Highlands University one of the 49 grants awarded to 337 applicants due to the high quality of the proposal. He had also obtained a $1.7-million grant in 2012 which allowed 120 teachers in Northern New Mexico the opportunity to earn a master’s degree from Highlands.

Washburn University Introduces Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate

Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas is now offering a new certificate program. The Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate will allow Washburn community members the ability to become certified to teach English as a foreign language all over the world. The program, which was coordinated by the Council on International Education Exchange and the International House, has been accredited by the World Teaching English as a Foreign Language Accreditation Commission.

Sarah Springsteen Trumble, who is a coordinator for the program as well as a lecturer at Washburn, said that she got involved in the certification program because her teaching career began when she taught English abroad. Trumble taught in Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Republic of Georgia during her time in the Peace Corps. She believes it will be an amazing opportunity for students to travel abroad and experience other parts of the world. “When you’re from a small town or you’re not rich, the opportunity isn’t always there for you,” she said.

Trumble’s hope is that the certificate will give recipients the confidence and experience to succeed in the classroom. Eliza Rezac feels that the opportunity will add a unique aspect to her English major. Rezac is currently a freshman at the university.

The program, which will be available for a minimum of five years will run year-round and be available to all students, no matter their major. The ability to speak another language is not necessary to enroll in the certificate program though it is considered helpful. The certificate will include 11 weeks of online classes and 20 hours of practicum teaching which will take place in an Intensive English course at Washburn. The current cost is a $1000.

The Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate will allow students to make a career out of teaching English abroad for as long as they desire. There are also opportunities for recruitment upon becoming certified.

Refugee Students Sue Lancaster School District over ESL Programs

Lancaster School District is defending its English as a Second Language (ESL) program after student refugees filed a lawsuit against it. The lawsuit alleges that the school district has been sending older students who are limited in their English speaking ability to Phoenix Academy to enroll in an accelerated program. It contends that such programs would be more beneficial to the students if they were taught at the high schools.

The suit also claims that older students were sometimes left to wait for several months before being enrolled in a school even though Pennsylvania state law mandates a maximum wait of five days.

Helaine Marshall, a professor at Long Island University and bilingual expert, testified that she believes the Phoenix Academy’s curriculum is detrimental to refugees because it expects students to move through content faster than their understanding level allows. According to Marshall, McCaskey High School in Lancaster, would provide the foundation the students need to become proficient in English. McCaskey offers an International Baccalaureate program which provides intensive language support to students during their first year of school or until they score high enough on proficiency tests.

Damarius Rau, the district’s superintendent refuted claims that older students were being turned away but added that she would investigate the situation further. She said that sometimes older students are recommended to the program at Phoenix because after the age of 21, they are no longer eligible to free public education in the state of Pennsylvania. “Our overriding goal is to get them to graduate. For students who are ESL, the state and federal government requires us to make accommodations,” she said. She also said that a student’s ability to speak English fluently shouldn’t affect their readiness to enter college or begin a career.

The lawsuit is being heard by Federal Judge Edward G. Smith and is expected to last about one week.

Learning for Life – 5 Benefits of Continuing Education

It’s never too late to learn. Further education is available for people of all ages, from first time undergraduates, to mature students and even people who are coming back into education to further develop their career or take a new path in their vocation.


Despite controversy over the number of graduate jobs available, it remains clear that higher education can significantly increase your chances of getting a higher paid job.

According to Which? University, 193,890 graduates in 2013 were working six months after graduating. Out of that number, 124,700 were in professional level jobs.

Even if you need to have to take on an average job to pay the bills at first, the fact remains that higher education makes you more eligible for high paying jobs, than those without.

There is, of course, no guarantee that having a degree will automatically get you a good job. Unless you’re graduating to be a doctor, lawyer or teacher (and even then competition is quite fierce), it’s likely you will have a variety of different jobs first. The quality of those jobs, however, is likely to be higher than the jobs available with no degree necessary.

Remember, it’s not only the qualification and the subject you studied that counts on your CV, it’s the skills that enabled you to achieve that qualification that employers are looking for, such as:

  • Self-discipline
  • Research
  • Computer skills
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Communication

These are all skills that nearly every employer will be looking for, however, many of these skills don’t require further education to develop.


A graduate job is a job aimed at and suited to a person with a degree or qualification of further education. These tend to be higher paying jobs but more importantly, they can often to lead to career progression and a higher salary.

In 2013, people in America with a degree could earn around $40,000 (£24,000). And those with a Master’s Degree could earn up to $70,00 (£43,00).

This of course depends on the degree and industry, and there are also people like Richard Branson who have been able to set up their own business without further education. But overall, statistics show that further education matters if a higher salary is what you’re aiming for. For TEFL, generally 120 hours of certification is sufficient for employment in most schools, however, having a degree to back it up can really boost your salary and increase your opportunities in the long run (and it looks great on your resume!)

New skills

Education gives you more just a certificate; experience. It doesn’t even come down to the subject matter. In certain industries, like engineering or medicine, your course subject is important, but there are skills that are undoubtedly gained from further education that we take often for granted.

  • Organisation – If you weren’t able to get up for classes, turn up on time, stick to a timetable or make your own work schedule, how would you have been able to complete your course?
  • Research – If you go to the library and look up relevant reference books, use a computer to write essays and make charts, or create a presentation on a subject, these are all research skills.
  • Discipline – When you stay in to finish an article, instead of going out or watching the television, that’s discipline. So is sitting down every morning and spending a couple more hours revising. If you can keep working at things instead of giving up, you’re more likely to succeed in a job.
  • Communication – This covers lots of areas: writing fluently, talking clearly and asking for help when you need it. Communication is key to just about every aspect of the job industry, but will also help you when you need to make a speech, write an application letter, and generally talk to people!

Meet new people

It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many new people you actually meet when you take a course in any subject, at any institution. You can meet people of all ages from a variety of backgrounds, from students to tutors, and there’s ample opportunity for making new friendships:

  • Societies
  • Online student forums
  • Classes, lectures and seminars
  • Study groups
  • Course Facebook pages
  • Open days

Further education is also great for upcoming opportunities. Most industries do internships, whereas arts and media industries have excellent volunteering placements, and TEFL courses are a great chance to travel.

Develop an interest

One of the great parts of higher or further education is the variety of subjects available. They can range from broad overviews to specific niche subject areas. You can choose to study a subject you’ve perhaps always wanted to learn more about but never had the time to, or thought it wasn’t a ‘proper’ subject for an educational course.

The good news is that the skills gained from studying a subject can be used in nearly every aspect of life, but the actual subject of your course or degree is not completely crucial – unless of course, you really want to become a surgeon.


There are cases where people have gone onto great success without further education. However, it can’t be denied that there’s never any harm done in choosing further education; you could still technically go on to create a globally successful business, and have done a course in TEFL. What further education can offer is a set of skills that can benefit you personally and professionally, and allow you to pursue a subject you’re passionate about, and meet other people who are passionate about it too.

South Lexington ESL Teacher Recognized as Teacher of the Year

Fernando Solano was recently honored with the 2016 Teacher of the Year award for his work as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. The South Lexington Elementary School teacher accepted the award while several other teachers were given recognition as “Superheroes in the Classroom”.

Solano said that the award came as a big surprise as well as an honor. “No teacher could be happier than when we are recognized for what we do,” he said.

Jennifer Brown, the principal at the elementary school, described Solano as a dedicated and passionate teacher who provided a thorough experience to the students. She said that Solano is connected to both the student’s and the parent’s needs when it comes to literacy. For his part, Solano infuses his love of literacy into his students. “He has a vested interest in ESL and working with the children,” said Brown.

This is Solano’s second year with South Lexington, having previously worked in Guilford County schools.

Rick Kriesky, Superintendent for the Lexington City School district, admitted choosing the Teacher of the Year was a challenge because he believed all teachers deserve to be honored.

Emy Garret, assistant superintendent concurred describing the teachers as superheroes who have superhuman qualities including multi-tasking, instilling a passion to learn and keeping peace in the classrooms.

During the awards, Kriesky complimented all of the teachers during the annual brunch to celebrate the Teacher of the Year. He went on to congratulate them for doing an amazing job inspiring the children in their classrooms and beyond.

Several other teachers were given recognition for individual school teacher of the year during the brunch. In 2015, the Teacher of the Year award was shared by two teachers for the first time in its history.

New York ESL Teachers Puts Creative Spin on Lessons

Instructing young ESL learners is hardly easy. Teachers often need to construct lesson plans that engage young students enough to hold their attention and leave lasting impressions. For Carlos Juan Rosello, a teacher at El Puente Academy for Justice in Brooklyn, art is the perfect catalyst for creative learning.

Rosello explained his teaching style in recent article published in the New York Daily News saying, “The best teachers I had in my life were able to harness the arts. I think that is the key to true lifelong learning.”

Staying true to this belief, Rosello had students examine the award-winning play “Anna in the Tropics” by Nilo Cruz to learn about Cuban immigrants in America circa 1929. In another example, he used Pablo Neruda’s poem “Ode to My Socks” to show his class how to write about the banality of everyday life.

Looking at Rosello’s own background, it’s no wonder he cultivates alternative learning methods. Before becoming a licensed teacher, he was an artist. He can also jam on the bass and guitar so he favors music as a learning tool as well.

A son to Puerto Rican immigrants himself, Rosello encourages his ninth graders to explore their cultural heritage through the English language. This tactic serves the dual purpose of developing foreign language skills while still maintaining a sense of pride for their homelands. As a result, many lessons spur on discussions about other countries and causes of immigration.

For his exemplary dedication to imaginative ESL teaching, Rosello is a Daily News Hometown Heroes in Education award nominee. If he wins, Rosello will attend an award ceremony and be featured in the New York Daily News on October 5, 2016.

New Survey Ranks English Proficiency Across the World

Voice of America, an organization committed to providing English education for students around the world, released a new study showing that the global grasp of the English language continues to improve.

The study was an overview of English proficiency for 70 different countries that use the language on a regular basis. Overall, the report shows that average adult English proficiency is up, but not all countries are improving.

Europe sits on top overall, with Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway taking the top four spots. This is in part due to the structural similarity between English and their native languages. The only Western European country that appears to be lagging behind in English education is France, a nation that is historically protective of its language and culturally averse to English.

Asian countries have traditionally been some of the world’s greatest proponents of English education, with South Koreans paying more than any other country for English education. However, countries like China have dropped a full 10 rankings since last years survey. This is not due to China slacking on English education. Their English proficiency has continued to grow according to Minh Tran, the Director of Research and Academic Partnerships for the Voice of America report.

It is instead because seven different Latin American countries have surpassed China in the ranking. Nonetheless, Latin American English proficiency is still slow, with most of the gains that allowed them to surpass China occurring only among young people. Argentina is the only Latin American country to hold a ranking of high proficiency according to the study even as countries like Brazil and Colombia continue to improve.

The worst region in the world for English proficiency is the Middle East and North Africa. English ability is dropping in many African countries with few exceptions. Libya has been ranked the lowest overall in the world. Much of this is credited to violence and instability throughout the region preventing quality standards of education from being established, but even stable nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are lagging behind the rest of the world.

For educators considering taking time to teach overseas, considering the state of education in your country of choice will be an important factor in seeking out employment. Whether your goal is to assist in education reform in countries that are lagging behind, or to learn better teaching techniques from successful programs, the Voice of America survey will be an important tool in helping you to assess which country is right for you.

Can Learning a Second Language Reduce the Likelihood of Alzheimer’s?

English’s growing dominance as the global language of trade and social interaction has made it an increasingly important tool for non-native speakers the world over. However, while English can open doors in employment and education, new studies have also shown that studying a second language like English can also increase mental faculties and stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Studies were conducted on Indian patients diagnosed with dementia, and on average, patients who spoke multiple languages began developing Alzheimer’s symptoms 4.5 years later than patients who only spoke one language.

Researchers believed this is due to the impact that learning new vocabulary has on the brain’s executive functions. Learning a new language and using it requires the brain to exercise a variety of different areas as it tries to switch between the new language and the speakers native one. It is like a mental calisthenics routine, boosting brainpower that has the potential to stave of debilitating dementia in the same way that good cardio staves off heart disease.

This does more than simply keep illness at bay. Those mental processes are an important part of the way the human brain intakes all kinds of information. Learning a language helps boost memory, problem solving, and even empathy according to the studies results.

These results are not necessarily limited to the study of the English language. However, the economic, educational, and travel benefits that come with learning English make it a perfect choice for a second language. For someone not interested in learning English in an English speaking country, opportunities in countries like Germany, Sweden, and South Korea allow someone to learn English alongside other languages and cultures.

Regardless, the potentially mind altering benefits of second language learning make it an imperative for mental health advocates everywhere. English or not, learning a second language is an important practice for everyone to engage in.

Malaysian Teachers Decry State of English Education

English has long since established itself as a major language of trade and culture across the globe. The influence of the British Empire and of modern American culture has left the world dotted with countries that consider English to be their official second language or even their first language. These countries do not consider English to be a foreign language but a second native tongue necessary for living within their own borders.

However, the adoption of English as a primary language is still a new prospect for many countries, and the process of establishing effective English education is still developing.

“It’s not easy you know. When I enter the school, I pray: Oh my God, Please help me. Help me. I can’t do it alone,” said Parawahida Md Nadzir, an English teacher in Malaysia. She lamented the state of English education in Malaysia as part of a video released by the Malaysian Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Permandu), which was intended to increase support for English Education programs. Nadzir and other teachers like her doubted their students command of basic grammar and feared that even something as short as a 300 word essay would prove challenging to their students.

Nine out of 10 of the countries in the South-East Asian region around Malaysia consider English to be a primary or secondary language, making it absolutely necessary for international trade and relations of all kinds. 99 percent of Malaysian parents surveyed by Permandu stated that proficiency and exposure to English in Malaysian schools needed to become a priority.

English teachers in the U.S. might find that their experience as an educator in an established English education program would be priceless in countries like Malaysia, which are still searching for ways to teach and motivate their students to engage when studying English.

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