English learner recommendations include new world language’ credential

After two years considering the best ways for teaching English learners, an advisory panel has recommended the state establish a new single subject credential in the area of teaching English as a world language" and an advanced EL authorization to provide instructional and professional development resources to elementary and secondary teachers.

The proposals, which include a review and update of existing EL authorizations, are set to come before the Commission on Teacher Credentialing this week for consideration.

The overall review and revision of the current English Learner Authorizations system would, according to the CTC, "be more responsive particularly to the needs of English learners to learn English for both academic and social usage in order to reduce the achievement gap between English learners and the English-primary language peers."

As part of the revision process the panel recommends a new Single Subject English as a New/World Language credential to address the urgent need to prepare teachers with specific skills to support EL students in achieving proficiency in English as quickly as possible.

While the panel feels that current California Teachers of English Learners (CTEL) standards and programs are appropriate for entry level EL teachers, panel members identified additional areas that may need to be included to enhance teacher preparation. Additional preparation in linguistics and instruction in academic literacy would support teachers in addressing the needs of beginning and intermediate English learners, areas where the CTC panel determined were not sufficient in the existing credentialing standards.

The EL authorization applies to methodologies of Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) and English language Development (ELD). SDAIE methodologies take into account the EL student's prior background and cultural experiences. Strategies can include using organizers to assist students in understanding course content, providing opportunities to practice academic vocabulary prior to content instruction, note-taking strategies, and strategies to support academic literacy.

ELD requires teachers to know how languages are acquired, how to structure appropriate lessons, and how to assess EL students' proficiency in English, with the ultimate goal of bringing EL students to a level of proficiency to be able to achieve alongside their "English only" peers.

The panel proposes that the CTC remove the ELD designation from the Single Subject credential, limiting the EL authorization to SDAIE instruction as the preparation program lacks key ELD components. Additionally, the panel proposes a new Single Subject English as a New/World Language credential to teach ELD in secondary schools

The CTC notes that ELD courses in many cases do not count toward CSU/UC credit. However, the panel believes that although there are critical differences in status, urgency and need, the study of English as a "world language" would be comparable to the study of other world languages, such as Japanese, in terms of expected student learning and language proficiency outcomes. Regarding the issue of credit, the panel acknowledges that the kind of credit courses receive should be decided at the local level.

The panel is also recommending that the CTC establish an advanced credential English Learner Specialist/Instructional Leader authorization that would follow the same structure as the Mathematics and Reading Instructional Specialist authorizations and provide EL teachers and administrators with instructional and professional development resources.

If the recommendations are approved, changes in the credentials will be implemented over a period of time as new or updated standards would need to be developed.

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