By Kate Warner, Staff Writer

Poster advertising the new ENG 377 class. (Photo Courtesy of Gia Pilgrim)

Poster advertising the new ENG 377 class. (Photo Courtesy of Gia Pilgrim)

The education department at UMF has provided a new course, EDU 377, for students this spring. It offers education on English language learning (ELL) topics and experience in the classroom working with children who are learning English language in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

EDU 377 will address a variety of topics related to ELL. Kathy Miles, Field Supervisor and instructor for this course, said that possible topics could include, “planning and implementing instruction for ELL, acquiring cultural competency, working with families and communities, understanding basic ELL assessment tools, and enhancing the professional aspects of working with this population.” Professionals working in the field have been invited to aid in the discussion of these topics during seminar.

This new course was created due to a direct need for educators in the state to assist in ELL in classrooms as they become more diverse. Barbara Eretzian, Director of Field Services at UMF, said the “Lewiston and Auburn schools have been looking for teachers for ELL and they have asked often for UMF to develop courses to give teachers experience.”

As UMF works to produce more caring teachers, competent educators, and confident professionals, it looks for new ways to accomplish this and provide its students with more diverse experiences. “UMF is moving towards a certificate in ELL which would allow graduates to become endorsed by the state,” Eretzian said. This certificate would not only show that graduates are more experienced, but it would also make them more marketable while searching for a job. More courses such as EDU 377 are important in providing this kind of education and making UMF grads stand out.

Because there are currently no courses that specifically focus on ELL, EDU 377 provides students with information on this topic which will help them in their future teaching career. In addition, Eretzian said that the “topics covered will help students practice for the Praxis.” The Praxis exam is a test that teachers must pass in order to receive certification from the state, and passing it is critical in order to become a full-time teacher in the public schools.

Students will take away many things from this course including experiences they gain from the classroom, knowledge learned from the number of topics discussed in seminar, as well as an idea of whether or not this is an area that the student wants to pursue as they continue their education.

Wendy Kennedy, Administrative Specialist in Field Services, explained the requirements of the course. “There are signs on campus about EDU 377 that inform you about the course. You need your fingerprinting, CHRC, Professional Standing, completion of practicum and you must be a junior to take the course,” she said. The fingerprinting and Criminal History Record Check (CHRC), are done through the state. Students must send in the required paperwork and make an appointment to be fingerprinted. Then the State of Maine will later send a CHRC stating whether or not they have any prior offenses. UMF needs this information before allowing anyone into a classroom. Professional Standing is acquired by completing the Praxis I Exam as well as a select few classes. In addition, a student must complete a practicum, a class where the student is in the field working in a classroom, in order to enroll in EDU 377.

Students who fit the criteria can sign up for this course through MaineStreet and register for the May term. There is no specific deadline, but UMF students are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible so that classroom placements and details can organized.