At UAB we offer two graduate degrees for the teaching of ESL: a Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) and an Educational Specialist (EdS). These degrees and their corresponding certifications are described in this website. Also featured are the program’s innovative design, student testimonials, hall of fame, alumni showcase, and Peace Corps partnership. A brief history of our ESL teacher education program is provided below. Immediately following are highlights about program impact, teacher candidates, federal grants, and national classification.

In addition to providing program-specific information, our website also hosts an extensive teacher resource section for ESL and mainstream teachers. Such resources include information about professional conferences and other career-related opportunities. We hope that you enjoy our ESL teacher education website and look forward to hearing from you.

Susan Spezzini, Ph.D.
Program Director and Associate Professor  (205) 934-8357

Brief History

In 1999, UAB offered its first ESL methods course. Committed to serving the region's growing international workforce, UAB systematically proceeded in developing a curriculum for the training of ESL teachers. When this curriculum reached full cycle in 2001, the first three UAB students obtained ESL teacher certification from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). Shortly thereafter, an unprecedented surge of ELLs in the public schools was mirrored by a corresponding surge of graduate students in ESL teacher education. Untrained in the teaching of linguistically diverse students, teachers at all grade levels were eager to learn how to incorporate ESL best practices into their content classes in order to more effectively support ELLs' linguistic and academic development. A significant milestone was reached in 2017, that of 600 UAB students having earned ESL certification and/or a Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) for teaching ESL. Currently averaging 65 graduates a year, UAB leads the state in the preparation of ESL-certified teachers.

Program Impact
UAB has made a difference in the teaching of ESL throughout the state. Albeit concentrated in central Alabama, alumni and students of UAB's ESL teacher preparation program currently teach in 48% of the counties - from Mobile in the southwest to Huntsville in the northeast. UAB's outreach is best exemplified by Baldwin County where, at 250 miles from UAB, 18 of its 22 ESL teachers completed our ESL certification program. The ALSDE's Tittle III specialist and its five ESL coaches are also UAB alumni. Other UAB students and alumni, those who specialize in adult learners, teach ESL in a variety of post-secondary programs ranging from rural community outreach to post-doctoral academic writing.

Certification Candidates for Teaching P-12 English Learners

UAB teacher candidates in the ESL P-12 program consistently earn high scores on the English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Praxis test, from the Educational Testing Service. In 2016-17, 36 candidates took ESOL Praxis #5362. Their 180 average far exceeded 149, which was the score required by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) for ESOL certification. From 2011 to 2016, 208 candidates took ESOL Praxis #5361, and their 164 average exceeded 144, which was the score required by the ALSDE.  And, from 2005 to 2010, 239 candidates took ESOL Praxis #5360. Their 690 average far exceeded the 540 score required to become certified in Alabama. 

International Outreach
UAB's ESL education program embraces global outreach initiatives and, by doing so, furthers the university goal of preparing local and international students for the globally connected world. On the one hand, international students from 14 different countries have been admitted to our ESL master's degree program since 2005. With the arrival of INTO UAB in 2016, international students have had the privilege of being able to initiate their graduate students through an MA-TESOL Pathway offered by the English Language Programs. On the other hand, many of our local alumni have gone overseas to teach English upon completing their master's degree. Others have opted to do their teaching apprenticeship at an overseas site. 

Federal Grants
Eight grants from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition have served to enhance ESL teacher education at UAB. In addition to promoting UAB's unique distance-delivery model—with the most distant site at 250 miles from Birmingham, these grants have also served in fostering ESL partnerships with targeted school systems such as Shelby County, Jefferson County, Etowah County, Baldwin County, Homewood City, Gadsden City, Attalla City, and Enterprise City, as well as others around the state. Furthermore, by supporting the development of ESL workshops for K-12 educators and university faculty, these grants have also been instrumental in situating UAB as one of the ALSDE's premiere partners in the delivery of ESL professional development to mainstream teachers.

National Classification
Within the national Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), UAB's MAEd/ESL program is classified with the 13.1401 code, which is for Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. This CIP code defines programs that focus on the principles 
and practice of teaching English to students who are not proficient in English or who do not speak, read or write English, and that may prepare individuals to function as teachers and administrators in such programs.

State Recognition
"Your efforts are important to Alabama and the preparation of teachers. As Alabama seeks to develop a trained and qualified workforce, it cannot be done without recognizing the cultural and linguistic needs of our students."
Gregory G. Fitch, former Executive Director, Alabama Commission on Higher Education