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New English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher licensure endorsement program announced

May 11, 2009 -- Arkansas State University-Jonesboro announces a new English as a Second Language (ESL) Licensure Endorsement program.  The ESL Licensure Endorsement program is an add-on endorsement program, which trains teachers in the field of English as a Second Language.  In order to enroll in the program, students must be admitted to the Arkansas State University Teacher Education Program or hold a current teaching license in any field. The endorsement program entails 12 credit hours of course work; it can be completed through evening enrollment in two semesters at the ASU-Jonesboro campus. Arkansas State University is the only university in the northeastern Arkansas region to offer an ESL Licensure Endorsement program. Click here for a printable brochure describing the program.

Fall semester courses are EDLA 4633, Methods and Materials for Teaching a Second Language (offered on Monday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m.), and EDLA 4643, Second Language Assessment (offered on Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m.) Spring semester courses are EDLA 4653, Second Language Acquisition and EDLA 4663, Teaching People from Other Cultures (times and dates to be announced).

The purpose of the program is to prepare candidates to teach English as a second language at the P-8 and 7-12 levels. The program focuses on developing a knowledge base related to current and traditional methods of second language instruction, designing and delivering effective language and culture instruction for all students in a productive learning environment, integrating technology and professional standards into curriculum and instruction, and developing professionally.

Dr. Yvonne Unnold, chair of the Department of Languages at ASU, said that they decided to offer the new endorsement program to respond to the high demand for ESL-licensed teachers. With more than one/fifth of the U.S. population speaking languages other than English, and changing demographics at local, state, and nation-wide levels, schools have found themselves challenged by the influx of students who are not proficient in the English language. In northeast Arkansas, there is a particular need for teachers of English to speakers of other languages due to the large growth in the international population that is now affecting the region. Locally, the Hispanic population has grown to more than 10,000 in Craighead County alone; these numbers do not include other nationalities that have moved into the area. Among the Hispanic population, an estimated 70-80 percent speaks only Spanish and is in urgent need of ESL training. The inability to communicate effectively with these community members has made it very difficult for service providers to meet the needs of the community; educational services are especially affected.

ASU’s new ESL Endorsement program is open to teachers in any field.  It will enable social and physical science teachers as well as teachers of language arts and any other fields to add an additional qualification to their portfolios and become prepared to better meet the needs of the changing student population.

Schools in northeast Arkansas are becoming more international by the day. Buffalo Island Central, just 33 miles from Jonesboro, is home to the school district with the largest Hispanic population in Craighead County—17 percent of Buffalo Island Central’s students are Hispanic. Although Jonesboro schools are showing lower numbers, they too have seen a large influx of Hispanic students.  According to enrollment numbers for 2007, the Hispanic student population made up 8 percent of the total in Jonesboro, 5 percent in Nettleton, 3.5 percent in Brookland, 2.5 percent in Valley View, 2 percent in Westside, and 1.7 percent in Riverside. With this many non-English speaking students in local school systems and in the community, teachers licensed to teach ESL are in high demand.

For more information regarding the ESL Licensure Endorsement program, contact Dr. Yvonne Unnold, chair of ASU’s Department of Languages, at (870) 972-3887, or via e-mail at



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