Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

ELMS Project Reaches New Milestone: 1,112 Participants!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

North Carolina has experienced a shortage of English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers for many years. The Watson College has responded to growing demand from K-12 schools, community colleges and nonprofit organizations such as literacy centers for ESL professionals by introducing an ESL Add-On Licensure program in 2007, a Master of Education (M.Ed.) with specialization in ESL in 2013, and a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program with specialization in ESL in 2014.

Since 2011, the Educating Language Minority Students (ELMS) Project, funded by a grant through the Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition, has provided tuition reimbursement for individuals enrolled in WCE’s ESL add-on licensure programs, and has enabled WCE faculty to provide professional development opportunities and ESL training for hundreds of teachers.

The majority of English Language Learners (ELLs) in North Carolina are native Spanish speakers. The state’s Hispanic population increased by 111 percent between 2000 and 2010, and the ELL population statewide in the 2011-12 school year was roughly 7 percent of the K-12 enrollment, or just under 100,000 students, according to an article in Education Week that cited federal data. In the Wilmington area, there has also been an influx of refugee families from Burma who speak Karen, said WCE professor and ESL program coordinator Eleni Pappamihiel.

The ELMS Project serves in-service teachers from across the state of North Carolina and pre-service teachers accepted to the Watson College of Education. Participants are a diverse group of teachers from nearly every content area and grade level, and with a broad range of experience.

“Many of our experienced participants are supporting English Language Learners in their mainstream classrooms and want the foundational knowledge and tools to provide differentiated instruction with confidence,” Pappamihiel said. “Beginning teachers are joining the ELMS Project to prepare for opportunities to work with diverse classrooms across the state. Regardless of where our participants come from or their levels of experience, they all have one thing in common… the desire to increase the academic outcomes of the English Language Learners in their mainstream classrooms.”

ELMS Project participants say the programs have helped them learn about ESL students, and results of supporting efficacy studies are high, Pappamihiel said.

The ELMS Project five-year grant ends in August 2016, but the Watson College will continue to offer ESL add-on licensure, masters-level M.Ed. and MAT programs with specialization in ESL and professional development opportunities for teachers.

For more information on the ELMS Project, visit www.uncw.edu/ed/elms.

For information on ESL programs offered by the Watson College, visit www.uncw.edu/ed/itfse/esl.