Alvernia Offers ESL Certification to Reading School Teachers


Alvernia University is partnering with Reading School District to offer a series of courses enabling teachers to earn a certification in English as a Second Language (ESL). The first cohort of 16 teachers is beginning coursework this spring, on-site, in a Reading School District building.

"For close to 50,000 Pennsylvania children whose first language is not English, doing well in school can be exceptionally challenging," said Dr. Mary B. Schreiner, chair of the Education Department at Alvernia University. "Our work with the Reading School District to provide ESL certification training to district teachers is geared to directly addresses the needs of some of Reading students to improve their learning outcomes."

Sixteen initial cohort members are expected to complete Alvernia’s English as a Second Language Program Specialist certification within a year. Approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, each of their five courses will be taught by faculty from both Alvernia and Reading School District. These faculty members will also supervise a number of application activities and a 40-hour internship capstone experience.

Reading School District has one of the highest percentages of students who do not have adequate English proficiency in the state. And according to Wanda I. Gonzalez-Crespo, director of Reading’s ESL program, more than 3,200 children qualify for services, in the form of instruction in English, as well as academic support in their subject classes. Crespo noted that the district chose to partner with Alvernia because the university has a strong local reputation in preparing teachers who are responsive to the needs of the Reading community — and because the program design includes not only sound evidence-based coursework, but also extensive community connections and an internship within the Reading School District.

“It’s just a beginning,” said Dr. Schreiner. “Because we know that Pennsylvania children speak over 200 different languages, it’s clear that the needs are great in schools. We look forward to exploring ESL Program Specialist certification programs with other district partners later this year and beyond.”

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