New graduate degree helps train ESL teachers


Courtesy of The Matador Network

ESL teachers will soon have expanded opportunities at Missouri Southern when the University begins to offer a new graduate degree program for educators. Online classes for the English Language Learners Master’s program begin next summer. 

The population of southwest Missouri schools is becoming more and more diverse. That includes a number of students whose first language isn’t English.

So Missouri Southern is adding a new degree to help teachers reach those students.

“I am extremely excited about this program, which will support teachers to better meet the needs of their English language learners,” said Deborah Brown, interim department chair of teacher education.

The English Learner’s Program is a degree designed to teach to students whose second language is English. The program comes as a graduate level program exclusively for teachers who are already certified. It is designed for teachers, not people who want to provide for social services or police enforcement. Southern has also made it clear they will be speaking to local schools to find out what the system needs. The program was previously referred to as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

The classes are all online, making it convenient for those already working in the classroom.

“I think that there’s a need in our area for master’s in TESOL and we’ll probably get a good response from schools locally,” Carissa Gober, assistant professor of education, said,

Carthage has an award-winning dual language program. This has been entirely necessary given the significant growth of ESL students and the shortage of teachers in the area. ESL students make up 25 percent of Carthage students and roughly 3,000 students in surrounding school districts. ESL students have also grown 52 percent nationwide.

A portion of the program, called Language Acquisition, will also feature troubleshooting for difficulties such as dyslexia which will require a multi-teacher process.

The ELL program is part of the world-class Instruction Design and Assessment consortium. As such, Southern students in the program will learn individual state laws providing for ESL students and what separates them from the general population.

Additional speakers with expertise in the field are expected to serve as adjuncts, especially for the mandatory practicum classes which will require ELL degree students to teach ELL students directly.

Online classes for the English Language Learners master’s program begin next summer.