Elementary ESL Certification Program

Application now available for the 2018-2019 Cohort! See “How Do I Apply?” below.

The Learning Community’s Elementary English as a Second Language Certification Program seeks to address one of Rhode Island’s defining educational needs: teachers who are skilled at working with English learners. The Learning Community’s ESL Certification Program is designed with practicing teachers in mind, and builds in not only an immediate practical application of skills, but also an unparalleled level of clinical supervision to help teachers hone their craft and bring their best instruction to their EL students.

How do I apply?

Please see the Application Instructions and Checklist for a complete list of what materials are required and where they should be submitted. The application, essay, and other digital materials must be attached to an email and submitted to esl@thelearningcommunity.com no later than February 28, 2018. Transcripts and letters can be sent to The Learning Community, ATTN: Melanie Griffith, 21 Lincoln Avenue, Central Falls, RI 02863.

Applicants must submit:

  • Application and Essay Question
  • A current resume/CV
  • Completed Proof of Employment form OR Proof of Employment
  • Proof of Elementary Education Teacher (11201) certification
  • Two letters of recommendation from professional references, including at least one from a former or current supervisor
  • Official transcripts from any undergraduate institution (and graduate, if applicable) from which the applicant was awarded academic credit and/or a degree

Questions about the application can be directed to esl@thelearningcommunity.com or to Melanie Griffith, Program Manager, at 401-454-9985.

Who can apply?

In order to be eligible for The Elementary ESL Teacher Certification Program at The Learning Community, applicants must:

  • Hold a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with an overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Have a current Elementary Education Teacher (11201) certificate.
  • Be a currently employed educator at an elementary school in a position that allows for at least 45 hours during the duration of our program working with English Learners in grades 1-6, either in your own classroom or another in your school
  • Or have proof of an agreement with a school administrator and/or classroom teacher whose class you will have access to in order to spend 45 hours working with English Learners in grades 1-6


How many classes are there and when do they meet?

The Elementary ESL Teacher Certification Program at The Learning Community was designed with a practicing teacher’s schedule in mind. There are five classes in total, with dates and hours specified below. In addition to coursework during the school year, participants must be able to complete at least 45 hours working with English Learners in grades 1-6 at their current place of employment, either in their own classroom or in another in their school.

Sociocultural Foundations of TESOL
Part I, Tuesdays, 10am-3pm: July 17, July 24, July 31
Part II, Saturdays, 10am-3pm: February 2, March 2, March 30, April 27, May 18, June 8
In this course, students will explore the history of US K-12 second language education, theoretical and research frameworks for how second languages are learned and acquired, and emerging brain research related to second/additional language learning, culture, and cognition.  Students will develop an understanding of different types of second language education programs in K-12 settings, key local, state, and national policies impacting language education, and the legal requirements for serving language learners in K-12 schools.  Students will address these questions from historical, political, sociological, psychological, pedagogical, and personal perspectives

Applied Linguistics for Educators of ELs
Summer 2018 || Thursdays, 10am-3pm: June 28, July 5, July 12, July 19, July 26, August 2
In this course, students will explore the theories, research, and related pedagogical approaches of second language acquisition and applied linguistics, especially those pertaining to second language acquisition and teaching with a particular focus on teaching English as a second language to students in schools, grades Pre-K-12. The course will employ frameworks, repertoires, strategies and activities to raise intercultural awareness and respect others and instructional and curricular implications of multilingualism of multilingualism as a resource, rather than a problem. The course will provide an overview of the basic concepts, scope, and methodology of the science of linguistics.

Literacy Acquisition for ELs
Saturdays, 10am-3pm: Sept. 15, Oct. 6, Oct. 27, Nov. 17, Dec. 8, Jan. 12, Feb. 2, March 2, March 30, April 27, May 18, June 8
In this course, candidates will develop an understanding of how learners develop literacy in a second language, and a cohesive approach to teaching literacy to ELs in grades K-5.  Using a critical lens to unpack and understand the theories and research distinguishing L1 and L2 literacy development, candidates will draw on their knowledge from their sociocultural foundations and linguistics courses as they implement research-based strategies for unit planning, delivering instruction, and assessing student performance in reading and writing that is aligned with the Standards for Effective Pedagogy, the WIDA Standards for English Language Development, and the Common Core State Standards

Curriculum, Methods, and Materials for Teaching ELs
Part I, Tuesdays, 10am-3pm: June 26, July 3, July 10
Part II, Saturdays, 10am-3pm: Sept. 15, Oct. 6, Oct. 27, Nov. 17, Dec. 8, Jan. 12
In this course, candidates will develop an understanding of best practices in planning and delivering instruction to EL students so that EL students successfully learn and use the social and academic language and develop the communicative competencies they need to meet the Common Core State Standards and become college-ready. Candidates will explore how they can effectively establish two-way communication with EL students’ families directly related to students’ academic, linguistic, and social learning.

Second Language Assessment and Evaluation
Summer 2019 || Tuesdays, 10am-3pm: June 25, July 2, July 9, July 16, July 23, July 30
The goal for this course is to increase the language assessment and evaluation literacy. Students will understand the processes of assessment in the language classroom, including an understanding of the movement in language assessment toward alternative (more authentic) testing. While learning the principles for evaluating and structuring assessments, students will analyze test types and create their own assessment tools. Students will also learn to design rubrics. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on acquiring language assessment terminology and concepts, learning ways to integrate assessment procedures into any curriculum, and designing assessment tasks that allow for improved learning.

How much does it cost?

Tuition for The Elementary ESL Teacher Certification Program at The Learning Community is $8,000. We offer a quarterly payment plan option and a monthly payment plan option. Enrollment in either of these payment options will be made available to candidates upon admission.

Why The Learning Community?

The Learning Community is one of the most qualified organizations in Rhode Island to provide an ESL certification. As a highly successful urban charter school, The Learning Community has one of the highest rates of English learners in Rhode Island—as of the 2014-15 school year, 39% of Learning Community students were English learners and 61% primarily spoke Spanish at home. With a combination of a daily explicit language teaching block for all students in grades K-3, teacher-crafted curricula, and innovative practice around literacy instruction for ELs, Learning Community students have made tremendous strides in closing the Latino achievement gap. Our Latino students consistently perform on-par with or better than their primarily white, monolingual, suburban peers in Rhode Island.

In the 2015-2016 year, the Learning Community’s EL students performed significantly better in both ELA and Math than ELs in other RI schools and districts on the PARCC exam. For example, 28% of our ELs met or exceeded expectations on the 2016 PARCC ELA test compared to the state average of 7%. Our ELs’ math performance follows a very similar trend. When you consider levels 3, 4, and 5 on the 2016 PARCC exam, 48% of Learning Community ELs met, exceeded, or are approaching expectations compared to 11-20% of ELs in the state’s urban districts. Level 3 on PARCC is a significant indicator of the capacity of this portion of the student body available to make progress towards levels 4 and 5.


Additional questions about the program can be directed to esl@thelearningcommunity.com or to Melanie Griffith, Program Manager, at 401-454-9985.