ESL Endorsement in NJ Questions

Discussion in 'ESL/ELL' started by Acamp, Jan 5, 2019.

  1. Acamp

    Acamp Rookie

    May 17, 2018
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    Jan 5, 2019

    Good morning everyone,
    To begin, so many of you have been so incredibly helpful with insights and information into the different endorsements and certifications - thank you for those who have helped in the past!

    I just had a few questions for those that are familiar with this area. As a little background, I have my standard NJ teaching certs in K-6 elementary education as well as 6-8 MS math. I am looking to possibly pursue the ESL endorsement in NJ. Here are my questions:

    1) on the NJ state website for the ESL standard cert, it says that you need to have a post-bachelor certification program consisting of 13 credits? I thought it was 18-21 credits for the ESL endorsement?

    2) for the NJ standard cert endorsement, it also says that you need to pass the OPI and WPT English language proficiency tests. Can someone please elaborate on how those tests are? Are they very difficult if you speak and write English as your first language? Any study materials you used to pass those?

    3) I only speak English - would that make this endorsement more difficult since I don't know any other languages? And also, would I have a more difficult time with ESL students if I only know English?

    4) What is the job market like for ESL teachers? Are they in high demand?

    5) Lastly (sorry about all the questions), typically is ESL instruction push-in support or pull-out resource room support?

    Thank you ALL in advance! I may have forgotten some questions along the way :)
    cheshgiran likes this.
  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Sep 30, 2001
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    Jan 5, 2019

    I can speak to #3 and 4. You need not speak another language to be successful in the ESL field. My school services students who speak Korean, Chinese, Hebrew, Spanish and others. Our ESL teachers either speak English only or English and Korean. ESL in my NJ district is pull out.
    cheshgiran likes this.
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

    Jul 19, 2014
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    Jan 7, 2019

    I don't know about the number of graduate course credits, because there truly are none currently listed on the NJDOE website for post grad work to earn the ESLendorsement, and found the most relevant part of the requirements to include teacher preparation coursework, which could differ from one university to another (ask me about the differences in SPED programs from one university to another).. When I took the courses, it was 15 graduate credits if you already have a standard teaching certificate in NJ, 21 if you lacked a standard certificate - two more courses. For teachers who have never done a teaching practicum and lack a standard certificate (think alternate route teacher candidates), a student teaching experience of about a semester is required. I understand that OP has a standard certificate, but someone will find the rest of the info relevant.

    I took my ESL grad classes at TCNJ, and the OPI and WPT English language proficiency tests were mandatory, and the school scheduled them for us. I don't remember any of our cohort having any significant trouble with the tests, but they had given us some idea of what the tests would be like prior to the testing date. To successfully pass the coursework and earn your eligibility for the ESL certificate, we had to pass a comprehensive exam administered by TCNJ. It's not unlike SPED where the university has to sign off to the state that you have successfully completed the required coursework, with paperwork submitted to the NJDOE.

    Only speaking English is not a problem, but don't be surprised when people who should know better look at you like you have two heads when you tell them you don't speak Spanish (most common misconception). Happened to me at my very first ESL interview, when the district superintendent told me that only speaking English wasn't good enough to teach ESL. He was certain that speaking Spanish was mandatory to go with the certification. Some districts prefer their ESL teachers speak a foreign language, because they use them almost as translators for various things. Just an observation. Some teachers who are bilingual will use the second language when working with the students, but it is kind of a cheat (personal opinion). I've seen this more at the HS level where you get newcomers who are carrying full academic loads, so speaking the second language just "simplifies" their life.

    The job market - good question. When I took the classes for ESL, only about 35% - 40% of the cohort participants found jobs teaching ESL. Since many were only looking to move up on the pay scale, I don't know how relevant those numbers are. My son actively sought and interviewed for an ESL job for over a year, to no avail.. He applied in VA, went for one interview, which ended up becoming 5 interviews in 4 days, and was offered his choice of 4 jobs. Make of that what you will. He has been there for 3 years. ESL teachers will be in higher demand in very ethnically diverse populations, so think the Eastern half of NJ, from Northern to Southern borders, and the areas around Philadelphia. There are certain pockets of the state that have rapidly growing populations of non-native speakers, and these districts are now more likely to be hiring ESL teachers. Hunterdon County is an example that comes to mind, specifically the Flemingtion school districts. I am certain that there are other examples that just don't come to mind.

    Some school districts do want ESL teacher candidates who are bilingual and certified, because their ESL populations are a very significant portion of the total population and they teach in both English and the second language. I think that Hoboken does this, and many of the other districts close to NY.

    Over all, I would say the need is rising, but I should point out that TCNJ prepared a significant number of ESL teachers in cohorts all over the state, maybe about 6 years ago. It was a concentrated effort to help prepare ESL teachers in a standard way, so that there was consistency in teaching techniques. I know that most cohorts had about 15-20 students and there were many cohorts in the state. There was a grant to TCNJ for this teacher preparation effort, so the cost of the courses was low to the teachers who signed up for the program, increasing the numbers who fulfilled the requirements for certification. I am sure that a certain percentage of the grad students were simply looking to move up on the pay scale by adding the 15 grad credits.

    As far as push in or pull out, that is district policy choice. My son was considered a co-teacher for 2 years Now he teaches his own class, and they come to him. There will be ESL as a stand alone class, depending on the numbers. If you are in a district with highly escalating numbers of ELLs, you will be more likely to have pull out classes.

    You don't say whether you are willing to teach at the HS level. Your cert will be K-12 in ESL with a standard certificate. My son has been a co-teacher in Science, History, Math, and English classes as a HS ESL teacher. Just thought you might find that interesting. In addition to Music Ed. cert., he has the similar Elem. Ed certs to your own. I only share that because of the difficulty he had finding a job in NJ.

    I now teach in a residential SPED school, and as I suspected when hired, a significant percentage of our students are not native English speakers - at the home, the adults speak a foreign language, often Spanish with very little English, and the students may be able to speak the native language (L1), but are illiterate when it comes to reading in the L1. A significant number have stalled at the Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS), and are not comfortable in the Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), where the needed academic language resides. When CALP is low, it is hard for these students to read at anything approaching grade level without real effort. Sometimes ELLs come in highly knowledgeable in academic principles and language in their L1, and it is much easier for these students to excel. For students who may not even be high in BICS, in other words, they can get needs met, but not think in the L2 (English), it is an uphill battle. Many of these students are what we call SIFEs, Students with Interrupted Formal Education. Truancy, frequent moves, periods of incarceration, immersion in drug use, students working to support the family, status as a refugee, etc., all add up to create ELLs who have big gaps in their academic language. As if it isn't bad enough that they are struggling to learn the language, they are missing key concepts that could help them connect what they do know. These students frequently create disturbances in the class, because they don't want others to know that they have no clue what is being asked or how to answer. The behavior problems are a smoke screen, so others don't realize how poor their grasp of the English language actually is.

    It would be an understatement to say I use my ESL education on a daily basis. If you earn the certification, you will be very much aware of students who need your help, and that is satisfying. Trying to figure out a student who tested very badly, but truly studied, lead me to some subtle questioning where I discovered that this student had been adopted between 9-11 from an Eastern European country. She fit the definition of a SIFE, and she was stalled in BICS. Her ELL history had not followed her to the HS, so she had no accommodations or additional help in her records. She is the reason I earned my ESL MEd, and I think of her from time to time. I did share with her other teachers what I had discovered, and I had the "small" ability to help her understand that there was a cause and a solution, and that she wasn't "stupid". She was the reason that I joined the cohort when it was offered at my place of employment, and I will be forever grateful to that student. I wish I could have had her in class a couple of years down the road, to be better trained to help her.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
    cheshgiran likes this.

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