At UAB we offer several graduate degrees for the teaching of ESL. These degrees and their corresponding certifications are described in this website. Also featured are program highlights, information for international students, alumni testimonials, hall of fame, voices from overseas, our ESL Advisory Council, and the Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows. A brief history of our ESL teacher education program is provided below plus also program impact and global engagement. 

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 English Language Learners (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 for more effectively supporting 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. Our alumni have taught in 21 states and 24 countries. 

Global Engagement
UAB's ESL education program openly embraces global engagement initiatives and, by doing so, furthers the university mission of preparing local and international students for the globally connected world. Global engagement is a two-way process; international students come to UAB to pursue the ESL master's degree, and local students and alumni go abroad to teach English.

A) International students have been admitted to our ESL master's degree program since 2005. Our international students and also immigrant students have come from Argentina, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Moldova, New Zealand, Nigeria, Paraguay, Turkey, Vietnam, and Venezuela. 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.

B) 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. To date, alumni and students from our ESL graduate program have worked in the following countries: Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Korea (North and South), Lesotho, Macedonia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Tonga, and Vietnam.

EESL690 class picture
EESL 690 Internship Seminar with course instructor Laura Johnson
Seated L-R: Emily Arrington, Jordan Stanley, Diana Prutzman, Katie Watkins, Tasheka Smith, Melissa Ward, Laura Galindo, Christina Dennis, Charity Jackson