There are a variety of definitions to characterize students whose primary language is not English, but who are learning English. These include limited English proficiency (LEP), a student for whom English is a second language (ESL), and a second-language learner (SLL). Other terms include non-English proficient (NEP), potentially English proficient (PEP), students acquiring English (SAE), and English as a new language (ENL). In addition, English language development (ELD) and culturally and linguistically diverse students (CLD) are terms used in the field. The most current is that of English learner (EL). However, since 2010 English language learner (ELL) is the term used in Florida to identify a student whose first language is not English.
In 1990, a lawsuit was filed against the state of Florida by a united group of organizations for failure to make accommodations in instruction to ensure the academic success of all English learners (ELs). The resultant mandate, the Consent Decree (also referred to as the META Agreement), requires ESOL training for PreK-12 teachers. In 2003, an addendum to the Consent Decree increased ESOL training hours for administrators, guidance counselors, social workers, and educators passing the ESOL subject area test. The requirement for the ESOL Endorsement for institutions of higher education began for graduates in Spring 2004. Originally, the 25 ESOL Standards and ESOL Competencies and Skills were either infused in teacher education programs or teacher candidates enrolled in five ESOL stand-alone courses. In Fall 2006, the ESOL Competencies (11th Edition of Competencies and Skills) were cross-walked with the 25 ESOL Performance Standards. In August 2009, the ESOL Standards were reviewed and by March 2010 the Florida Teacher Standards for ESOL Endorsement were presented for approval by the Florida Department of Education. The ESOL Standards reflect the national TESOL Standards. Currently, the 17th edition of the ESOL Competencies and Skills is available by the FLDOE. See the Florida Bureau of Student Achievement through Language Acquisition (SALA) website for further information regarding district training, legal documents, assessments for ELs.
A subject area certification or coverage is defined as the area in which a teacher candidate has a content knowledge base, such as exceptional education, early childhood, elementary education, math, English, social studies, etc. An endorsement signifies a pedagogical knowledge base which targets particular levels, stages of development, or circumstances. Consequently once the ESOL Endorsement is placed on a teaching certificate, the endorsement may remain on the certificate without any other training hours required.
Teacher candidates pursuing certification in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Exceptional Education, or English Education (grades 6-12) must complete the requirements to qualify for the ESOL Endorsement. These content areas are primarily responsible for language development and literacy. Other content area teachers are required to enroll in 60 hours of ESOL training but do not attain an endorsement.
Florida requires teachers to enroll in 300 hours of in-service ESOL training or 15 semester hours covering five topics: Methods of Teaching ESOL, ESOL Curriculum and Materials Development, Cross-Cultural Communications, Understanding Applied Linguistics, and Testing and Evaluation of ESOL. The State requires the same content for teacher candidates enrolled in state-approved teacher education programs; however, most institutions offer an ESOL infusion program that includes two (or three) stand-alone ESOL courses.
The “Application for Florida Educator’s Certificate” may be obtained online at the Florida Department of Education website. Every teacher candidate must complete two separate application forms. For example, a candidate will complete one application form for Elementary Education or Secondary content area (e.g., math, science, social studies, English) (Academic Coverage) certification and another application for ESOL (Academic Endorsement). A separate fee is required for each application. Go to http://www.teachinflorida.com/ for more information regarding teaching in Florida. Go to http://www.fldoe.org/aala/ for information on ESOL in Florida.