School of Education

English as a Second Language (ESL) Program

Employment and Other Information

Program Overview/Description

Please refer to the most recent GCU Graduate Catalog for updated program information.

The English as a Second Language (ESL) education program at the School of Education intends to increase opportunities for in-service teachers, language specialists, administrators, teacher aides, and other educational personnel to learn about issues specific to ELLs (English Language Learners) and teaching English to ELLs. The program prepares graduate students to become Teachers of English as a Second Language and to teach ELLs in different educational settings. That is, the ESL education program is available for certification/graduate non-degree, master's degree students, as well as certified experienced teachers. Candidates have the options of earning an MA in Education in ESL.

Upon successful completion of the coursework, candidates are required to complete the English oral and written proficiency tests in order to be eligible for a NJ teacher certification in ESL. Candidates will take the tests through Language Testing International (LTI, Inc), the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Testing Office. Please refer to their link for more information: https://www.languagetesting.com/acad_to_apply.htm.

Graduates from the ESL program typically teach English as a Second Language in elementary or secondary schools, in language schools or institutes abroad. Some work as language program administrators, such as ESL supervisors, in numerous educational settings. Teachers and specialists also have the potential to serve as advocates for students and families who come from diverse backgrounds and are typically sought out as resources for the schools and the districts they work in. Finally, others may work for publishers or companies that produce ESL/EFL (English as a Foreign Language) products.

Program Highlights

GCU’s ESL Education Program is unique in different ways:

  • The curriculum of the program is approved by the NJ state
  • The program offers a series of seven courses for a certification-only at the graduate level, and total 39 credits for an MA in Education in ESL with Special Education endorsement.

The program is designed to develop candidates’ competencies in:

  • Knowledge of local, state, and federal laws pertaining to educating ELLs, and knowledge of cultural diversity and the impact of diversity on learning and communication styles;
  • Knowledge of first and second language acquisition;
  • Knowledge of applied linguistics and structure and functions of spoken and written languages;
  • Approaches and methods for teaching English as a second language;
  • Knowledge of language program curriculum and assessment of students’ language proficiency, literacy, and knowledge of academic content in English;
  • Use of technology to enhance instruction in teaching ESL;
  • Involvement of service learning in the communities in educating ELLs.

Alumni of the program are employed as teachers and coordinators of language programs in different schools across the state. Our alumni have been an invaluable professional resource. They have strengthened the program's links with the professional community and have greatly enriched the educational experience of our students. (A couple of the alumni have agreed to provide their testimony.)

To be admitted to the ESL Program, prospective students must

  • Completed application - Graduate Application (PDF) or Online Graduate Application
  • $40.00 Application fee
  • Official transcripts from EVERY college and university attended
  • Statement of Objectives (Letter of Intent)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Copy of  NJ Teacher Certification
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English; however, the knowledge of a second language is preferred
  • Meet with both the Director of School of Education Admissions and the Director of ESL Education Program to obtain the required signatures and review the ESL program requirements and discuss course selection.

The ESL courses are offered in a streamlined fashion each semester for teachers and those planning to become ESL teachers. Upon successful completion of the coursework, candidates are required to complete the English oral and written proficiency tests. Candidates will take the tests through Language Testing International (LTI, Inc), the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Testing Office. Please refer to their link for more information: https://www.languagetesting.com/acad_to_apply.htm.

Course Sequences

Certification Only and Graduate ESL Certification Only

The 21 semester hour specialty in ESL education is designed for candidates who have a valid teacher certification and would like to obtain an ESL certification at the graduate level. Specific course requirements include:

  • EDC 5020 Foundations of Second Language Education: An Historical and Cultural Perspective
  • EDC 5021 Second Language Acquisition
  • EDC 5022 Theory and Practice of Teaching Second Language Learners
  • EDC 5024 Second Language Education Curriculum
  • EDC 5025 Language and Culture
  • EDC 5026 History, Phonology, and Structure of American English
  • EDC 5027  Literacy Skills for Second Language Learners

Master's of Arts in Education with ESL Certification

The 39 semester hour specialty in ESL education is designed for graduate candidates. It is a three phase program leading to an MA in Education with ESL certification course requirements include:

Phase I:  Theoretical Courses

  • EDC 5001 Philosophical / Psychology Foundations of Inclusive Education
  • EDC 5002 Diversity in Inclusive Education
  • EDC 5014 Methods of Research for Leadership for the Inclusive Setting
  • EDC 5020 Foundations of Second Language Education: An Historical and Cultural Perspective
  • EDC 5021 Second Language Acquisition
  • EDC 5022 Theory and Practice of Teaching Second Language Learners
  • EDC 5026 History, Phonology, and Structure of American English
  • EDC 5158 Educational Technology for Inclusive Education

Phase II:  Application Courses:

  • EDC 5024 Second Language Education Curriculum
  • EDC 5025 Language and Culture
  • EDC 5027  Literacy Skills for Second Language Learners

Phase III:  Mastery Courses:

  • EDC 6095 Project/ Thesis I
  • EDC 6099 Project/ Thesis II

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