College of Education > TESL Ecuador > About the Program

About the Program

Teaching ESL Certificate Program with Ecuador Immersion

The Teaching ESL with Immersion program offers the chance to learn about current ESL instructional strategies and apply them with English language learners in the classroom. Teachers learn how to adapt content and language materials, build awareness of language learning processes, and implement instructional strategies to support English learners in the classroom. For the international immersion experience, students are placed in one of two communities in Ecuador, Loja or Cuenca, both providing an environment in which teachers explore the challenges and triumphs of second language and culture learning.

Special Learning Opportunities:

  • Students in traditional Ecudorian garbMentored teaching practicum with Ecuadorian learners of English
  • Second-language study (Spanish or Kichwa, a Native American language that was adopted by the Incas and, in its various dialects, is widely spoken today)
  • Homestay with an Ecuadorian family and ethnographic culture exploration
  • Network with mentors and other participants, and sharing best ESL teaching practices
  • Explore the Andes — a subtropical cloud forest, volcanic peaks, indigenous cultures, and handcraft markets

All the certificate courses conducted in Ecuador are taught in English. They include a review of current best practices for teaching English language learners in the public school classroom.

The weekend courses at University Park establish a structure for future collaboration among teachers as they implement ESL teaching strategies in their classrooms and school districts.

Program Structure

Student in class

Beginning in the spring semester (January), the first course (APLNG 484) is offered as 'blended' online instruction with both online and face-to-face  weekend sessions on the University Park campus.  Additionally, the first course incorporates a field experience tutoring an English language learner. During the summer semester there are weekend class sessions at University Park prior to departing for Ecuador. Participants will also complete assignments and course activities before departing for the Immersion experience.

The intensive five-week Immersion experience in Ecuador begins in late June and includes an observed teaching practicum with Ecuadorian English language learners and courses on ESL teaching methods, second language acquisition, and culture in the classroom. Students will also participate in cultural exploration activities and language classes (in Spanish or Kichwa).

After returning from Ecuador, there is one final weekend class session on the University Park campus.

Pennsylvania ESL Program Specialist Certificate

The ESL program specialist certificate at Penn State may be completed in two ways: 1) through a traditional program with all classes held on campus, or 2) by enrolling in this Teaching ESL with Immersion option which offers weekend and online courses and an international field experience in Ecuador.

Penn State's ESL certificate program has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation. The program includes five courses and covers the competencies in key domains that the state has outlined for the ESL program specialist certificate:

  • Language
  • Culture
  • Observing, Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction
  • Assessment
  • Professionalism
  • Field experience (60 hours)

After successfully completing the Penn State Teaching ESL program, certified teachers may apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the ESL Program Specialist Endorsement.  At the successful completion of the program, each participant will receive acknowledgment that they have completed "Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language" program from Penn State.

Note: Our participants normally include both in-service teachers and pre-service education majors. So that we can offer intensive mentoring during the practice teaching in Ecuador, we limit the number of participants each year.