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ESL Endorsement

ESL Jobs and the Current Fiscal Situation in Michigan

It is no secret that the State of Michigan is in financial crisis like much of the rest of the country.  Many districts are cutting back programs like ESL so teachers may be wondering if it makes any sense to obtain an ESL Endorsement.  The answer is, Yes!  While it may not be possible to obtain a full ESL position, many districts are still interested in teachers with ESL training.  Whatever field your certification is in, your changes of obtaining a job could be significantly enhanced if you have ESL training.  Despite the fiscal problems in the State, there are still districts with large populations of non-native speakers of English.  Superintendents and principals know that such children still need special attention from qualified ESL teachers.

The Department of Linguistics offers an ESL Endorsement to teacher certification. The program consists of 20 credits taken in four successive semesters. To download a brochure describing the Endorsement, click here.

  • 20-credit planned program which teachers can use to receive their professional certification in ESL
  • entire program can be completed in one year -- fall through summer semesters
  • winter and spring courses are on-line (10 credits)
  • all courses can be applied toward the M.A. in Linguistics at Oakland University

Students praise the benefits and quality of OU's ESL Endorsement:

"After being laid off multiple times in a shrinking school district, I was looking for a way to be more in demand as an educator. The ESL Endorsement Program at Oakland University gave me that opportunity and has already enriched my career. New 'No Child Left Behind' requirements are forcing many districts to revamp their programs and hire qualified educators to service their ESL students. Oakland's program has placed me in a unique and small group of educators eligible to apply for these positions. After completing the program, I have a new perspective on the language acquisition and cultural needs of ESL students. I am equipped with an array of techniques, strategies and activities to service students and educators who have these students in their mainstreamed classrooms. I have already been approached for a new ESL job in my district to help create a program and train teachers in effective techniques. I highly recommend pursuing this endorsement to further your career and enrich your district's ESL program." Christy Osborne, ESL Endorsement, Cohort II, August, 2006.

Joining the Cohort

If you are interested in joining the cohort, you will find information about applying on the Graduate School web pages (link below). The following quick links provide information about admission, courses, and other details of the program. If you have questions or require further information, please see the contact information at the bottom of the page.


Admission is selective. The department will consider applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and whose credentials, including transcripts and two letters of recommendation, give evidence of academic distinction. Applicants must explain, in a statement of purpose, their reasons for wishing to pursue the ESL Endorsement. A grade point average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in undergraduate work is ordinarily the minimum standard for admission. An online application can be obtained at


The following is a schedule for the cohort. Classes are held in the early evening during the fall. Winter and spring classes are offered on-line with a few class meetings. Summer classes are held during the day over a five week period. All classes will meet at the Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac, 48980 Woodward, Pontiac, MI 48342. Course sequence and scheduling are subject to change. The number of credits for each course is indicated in parentheses.

  • LIN 501 (4) --  Linguistic Structures
  • ALS 630 (4) -- Language Pedagogy
  • ALS 570 (2) -- Language, Culture and Society
  • ALS 631 (2) -- Curriculum and Material Design
  • ALS 632 (2) -- Assessment and Compliance
  • ALS 640 (4) -- ESL Practicum
  • ALS 530 (2) -- Language Acquisition

Course Descriptions

LIN 501 Linguistic Structures (4)

An introduction to linguistic analysis and the nature ofhuman language within a modern linguistic framework using data from English andother languages.  This course provides an overview of sound, structure,meaning, dialect variation, historical change, and linguistic universals. 

ALS 530 Language Acquisition (2)

First language acquisition in children: stages of the acquisition process, the role of the environment, and the relationship between language and the development of other skills. Second language learning in children: influence of first language, age differentials, learning styles, and factors affecting second language learning. A description and evaluation of competing models of first and second language acquisition.
Prerequisite: LIN 501

ALS 570 Language, Culture and Society (2)

Language in its cultural and social context. Sociocultural variables in language use, language variation in style and dialect, and types of bilingual and multilingual educational situations. Comparison and interrelationship of English-speaking and linguistically diverse cultures. Processes and problems of communication as affected by national/ethnic cultures. Examination of the role of language and nonverbal modes in intercultural communication.
Prerequisite: LIN 501

ALS 630 Language Pedagogy (4)

Investigation of current methods, approaches, and techniques for teaching ESL to LEP K-12 students. Focus on actual classroom practices and activities for teaching reading, writing, listening, pronunciation, conversation, grammar, and vocabulary as well as the integration of techniques to reflect authentic language use. Design of lessons and activities for each of the skill areas of language learning.
Prerequisite: LIN 501

ALS 631 Curriculum Material and Design (2)

Design, evaluation, and selection of materials appropriate for second language learners. Focus on determination of age-appropriate and proficiency-appropriate materials. Modification of existing materials and/or assigned curricula to meet student needs. Design of curricula for K-12 ESL learners consistent with theory-based expectations of language improvement.
Prerequisite: LIN 501

ALS 632 Assessment and Compliance (2)

Identification, assessment, and placement of students in proficiency-appropriate levels and programs. Investigation of ESL assessment tools. Design of assessment tools for classroom use. Investigation of strategies for preparation of LEP students for standardized tests. Investigation of legal implications of Title VI in curriculum and program design.
Prerequisite: LIN 501

ALS 640 ESL Practicum (4)

Supervised experience in ESL with students at various levels (beginning, intermediate, and advanced) and ages (K-12).  Click here for more on the practicum teaching program.
Prerequisite: ALS 630 or permission of instructor. Non-native speakers of English, in addition, must satisfactorily complete an oral and written examination of English.

Relationship to the Master of Arts in Linguistics

All courses listed under the requirements for the ESL Endorsement can be applied toward the Master of Arts degree in Linguistics with a TESL specialization. It is anticipated that a graduate of the Endorsement Program who has all the prerequisites for the Master of Arts in Linguistics can apply for admission to that program and complete the additional 16 credits needed for that degree in approximately four semesters as a part-time student or two semesters as a full-time student.* The courses that make up the 16 credits of additional work for the M.A. degree are LIN 503, LIN 504, LIN 505, and either LIN 680 or LIN 690. For students completing the Endorsement Program who have less than a 3.0 grade point average in courses taken in that Program, and who wish to apply for admission to the M.A. program, the Linguistics Department will consider their applications on an individual basis.

*The M.A. specialization in TESL has a foreign language requirement of four semesters of foreign language study (with at least two of those semesters being study of the same language). Most students will have satisfied this requirement during their undergraduate study and these credits are not included in the 16 graduate credits listed above. Those students with little or no foreign language background may opt for a different specialization in consultation with an advisor.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a need for expertise in ESL in the K-12 system in the United States in general and in Michigan specifically?

The number of foreign-born individuals in the United States is increasing rapidly. In 1997, the foreign-born population was estimated at 25.8 million, a 30 percent increase over the 1990 census figure of 19.8 million and a 169 percent increase over the 1970 census figure of 9.6 million. According to the 2000 census, the foreign-born population rose to 28.4 million or 10.4 percent of the total population. The rapid increase in the foreign-born population from 9.6 million in 1970 to 28.4 million in 2000 reflects the high level of international migration during the past generation, a trend that will continue according to census projections.

The increases in the foreign-born population are important because they mean increases in the number of people who speak a first language other than English and who, therefore, are likely to need classes in English as a Second Language (ESL). According to the 2000 census, 18.4 percent of school age children in the United States - nearly one out of every five - speak a language other than English at home. 13.5 percent of those children speak English “not well” or “not at all.”

At the local level in Michigan, these increases have generated a number of surprising statistics. The database at Oakland Schools lists more than 100 languages spoken by residents of Oakland County, and it is not unusual to have more than a dozen different languages spoken in a single K-12 class. In cities like Troy and Farmington, residents speak 65 different languages, and, in the five county southeastern Michigan area, more than 1000 children of Japanese origin attend English classes every Saturday. In 1999, Plymouth-Canton Schools saw an increase of almost 35 percent in the number of students of Indian descent alone compared to 1998.

What will the ESL Endorsement enable me to do?

The courses in the ESL Endorsement Program will help you understand the linguistic and cultural problems that students have when English is not their native language. With ESL background and training, you will be able to deal with those problem effectively and help students who speak other languages become more integrated into classroom activities.

Can I get Teacher Certification along with the ESL Endorsement?

The Department of Linguistics does not offer teacher certification. For that, you must contact the School of Education and Human Services. For further information, click here

Do I need to have teacher certification from the State of Michigan in order to enroll in the Endorsement Program?


Can the courses in the Endorsement Program be used as a planned program of courses toward professional certification?


When are the ESL Endorsement classes offered? Can I take them at night?

All of the ESL Endorsement classes, except for the final class (The Practicum), are offered in the evening. The Practicum, in which students teach a class under the supervision of a certified ESL teacher, will be scheduled as a day class but in the summer semester.

How is the program set up? Do I have to take classes in a certain order?

This program is set up within the framework of a cohort, where a set number of students begin the program and take all of the courses together in sequence.

What is a cohort?

A cohort is a group of individuals who participate in a program together. All the people who enroll in the first course will proceed together as a group to the second course, and so on until the Program is completed. Since students take all courses together, there are many opportunities for collaboration and team building.

If I wish to pursue an M.A. degree, in addition to the Endorsement, when do I apply for the M.A. program?

You may apply for the M.A. program at any point after completing LIN 501.

How many students will be in the classes?

It is anticipated that there will be 25-30 students in each cohort.

What happens if I am unable to take the courses in the sequence begun by my cohort?

You will have to wait to take whatever you miss with another cohort. If you must drop out for an extended period, you can always join another cohort when you are able to continue.

What sort of grading system is used in the courses?

The ESL Endorsement Program is subject to the same policies and procedures as other graduate programs. For details on such matters as course regulations, grading system, appeal processes, academic conduct, and problem resolution, please consult the Graduate Catalogue

How many classes do I need to take for the ESL Endorsement?

The ESL endorsement consists of 20 credit hours in 7 courses (four 2-credit courses and three 4-credit courses).

What is the cost of attendance?

Tuition and fees are stipulated by Oakland University and vary from year to year. For a list of the current tuition, see the Oakland University Schedule of Classes. You can also consult a cost calculator to determine the cost for each 2-credit or 4-credit course at the following web address:

How do I apply? What are the steps in the application process?

Go to the website of the Graduate School and follow the instructions given there:

Once Graduate Admissions and Student Services receives all necessary materials, application files are forwarded to the Linguistics Department for review by the faculty. Academic recommendations are made to Graduate Admissions and Student Services where a final decision on the application for admission is made. Applicants are notified of the decision by letter.

For other FAQs, please see Oakland University website for graduate studies: