William Paterson University Debuts ESL Certification Program for Those Who Wish to Become Teachers, in Response to NJ’s Shortage of Educators for English Language Learners

William Paterson University’s College of Education is debuting a new ESL (English as a Second Language) Alternate Route Certification Program for those who wish to become teachers, in response to New Jersey’s current shortage of teachers with such expertise. The program recently started online and moves to a hybrid schedule in the fall.

For the fall, courses will be offered in a convenient format including online and on-campus, with all on-campus courses offered in the evenings or on weekends. The 22-credit program is completed in two years, while the candidate is working as a full-time ESL Teacher of Record.

“Online and on-campus coursework explores research-based teaching methods and strategies that teachers can immediately apply in the classroom with their English Language Learners, and candidates will receive hands-on guidance as they are observed in their own classrooms by William Paterson faculty,” says ESL alternate route program director Alison Dobrick, associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education: PreK-12 at William Paterson University.

“We visit the teachers’ classrooms extensively and observe, evaluate, and guide them with every aspect of teaching students who are learning English,” she explains. “Through the program, teachers will implement a variety of hands-on activities and lessons that they designed in WP courses; the coursework is directly translated into classroom practice.”

The curriculum is comprised of courses from both the University’s College of Education and its Department of Languages and Cultures, and includes such offerings as Applied Linguistics: Second Language Acquisition, Multiculturalism and Acculturation, and Literacy Instruction for English Language Learners.

“William Paterson University has strong ties to the school districts in our region through the College of Education’s Professional Development Schools Network, and this ESL program was designed in response to the expressed learning needs of those districts,” according to professor Linnea Weiland, chair of the Department of Teacher Education: PreK-12 at the University. In the cities of Paterson and Passaic, for example, more than 20 percent of students are English Language Learners, she says. 

Applicants to the program must possess or be in the process of earning a Certificate of Eligibility from the New Jersey State Department of Education in ESL. After successful completion of William Paterson’s program, teachers will earn a standard license as an ESL teacher in New Jersey. 

For more information, email dobricka@wpunj.edu.