The Montgomery County Intermediate Unit ESL Specialist K-12 Program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The six graduate credit courses are offered in a hybrid model ranging in length from eight to twelve weeks. Three face-to-face meetings are scheduled during each course to build community and collaboration. The program embeds sixty hours of field experience (10 hours within each course) with all field experiences taking place within a classroom, school and/or community based setting.

Our ESL Program Specialist Certification is currently running on a school/district cohort basis. If you would like to inquire about starting or partnering on a cohort for your school/district, please contact Professional Development Advisor Lisa Cullen at


The next COHORT begins in January 2024. Applications are due by December 15, 2023. Only complete application packets will be considered.

Application instructions are below. Please contact Lisa Cullen with questions at 610-755-9315 or

Course 1 - Developing Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity

3 Graduate Credit Course

As the diverse population of the United States increasingly grows, it is important in our communities and public schools to develop cultural competence to overcome language and cultural barriers. This course is based upon knowledge of behaviors, beliefs and attitudes of a multicultural approach to learning. It also includes cultural awareness activities for promoting school staff understanding about other cultures and in comparison to American culture and strategies for working with English Language Learners. Participants will examine sociolinguistic aspects of U.S. and world cultures, sources of cross-cultural conflict, and approaches to cross-cultural conflict resolution as they relate to K-12 settings, their communities and the communities in which they teach.

Course 2 - Language Acquisition

3 Graduate Credit Course

The focus of this course is to develop knowledge and skills in the areas of structure of the English language, grammar, and pronunciation, including lexical, morphological, syntax, phonological and pragmatic components. Educators taking this course will develop knowledge of the process of first and second language acquisition, including developmental issues in verbal, nonverbal skills, and vocabulary. They will also develop knowledge and skills to assist ELLs to communicate using verbal and non-verbal language.

Course 3 - Literacy Acquisition

3 Graduate Credit Course

The purpose of this course is to help future ESL teachers develop an understanding of how ELLs acquire literacy in a second language and apply strategies to assist ELLs in the different stages of second language usage. Course competencies are aligned to understanding the five foundational components systemic to successful reading programs (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, and reading comprehension), implementing differentiated writing instruction, and identification of effective strategies and techniques to improve literacy instruction for native English speakers and ELLs in K-12.

Course 4 - Observing and Planning Instruction to EL Students

3 Graduate Credit Course

Because ELL students come to us with a variety of backgrounds and at diverse levels of language acquisition, it is important for ESL teachers to have the knowledge and skills necessary to create a developmentally appropriate curricular program for all students. Upon completion of this course, teachers will be expected to design an ESL program tailored to meet the needs of each student. Participants will be able to identify appropriate materials and resources to be used with children at each level of English Proficiency.

Course 5 - Implementing and Managing Instruction to EL Students

3 Graduate Credit Course

Upon completion of this course, teachers will be expected to implement and revise instruction within an ESL program tailored to meet the needs of each student. Participants will be able to modify and employ appropriate materials and resources to be used with children at each level of English Proficiency and aligned with the newly revised Pennsylvania ELD Standards Frameworks and Can Do Descriptors.

Course 6 - Assessing ESL Students

3 Graduate Credit Course

Expand your knowledge of effective assessment practices and support services available for ELL students. Topics include effective assessment practices, purposes for assessment, multiple assessment models, use of evaluation techniques, scaffolding of assessments, and formal/informal assessment tools. Learn about the availability of school support services to assist ELLs in language acquisition and content learning. Discuss ways to promote parental/family involvement with their children’s education program. Gain hands-on experience in test administration, interpretation, and reporting. Individual education plans for ELLs identified as special education students will also be discussed.

Tentative Schedule

*subject to change

Winter Start

(spread over 3 school years, approximately 24 months in duration)

Year 1

Course 1: January 8, 2024 – March 3, 2024

Course 2: March 11, 2024 – June 9, 2024

Year 2

Course 3: September 23, 2024 – November 17, 2024

Course 4: February 10, 2025 – April 6, 2025

Year 3

Course 5: August 18, 2025 – October 12, 2025

Course 6: October 20, 2025 – December 21, 2025


program admission requirements

  • Official sealed transcript(s)
  • 3.0 GPA in undergraduate and graduate work
  • Current resume
  • Personal statement of goals
  • Two Reference Reports (must be completed by individuals serving in a professional supervisory position)
  • Completed Application (word doc | pdf)
  • PA Instructional Teacher Certificate
  • $35.00 application fee