by Allie Smith

The University of West Georgia’s College of Education has recently reintroduced the English as a Second Language (ESOL) graduate level endorsement program into the curriculum.

Dr. Robert GriffinThis program is designed to equip teachers with the skills and abilities to better teach multilingual students.

This endorsement can be taken as an addition to a graduate level education degree to provide teachers with an extra area of background knowledge to enhance their professional resources.

Dr. Robert Griffin, COE assistant professor in the Department of Literacy and Special Education, has been a key figure in the renewal of this program and stresses the importance of ESOL programs in education.

“Student diversity has grown exponentially over the past few decades,” Griffin said. “From what I have seen in the literature, multilingual learners are the fastest growing student population in K-12 schools nationwide.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 9.5 percent of enrolled students in United States public schools and 6.5 percent in Georgia were English language learners in 2016. Yet a Department of Education study from the same year estimated that over half of the country has a shortage of educators certified to work with these students.

Griffin was recently appointed to a statewide ESOL task force alongside four other Georgia educators. The goal of this task force is to take the newly released international standards for ESOL and apply them to the state of Georgia standards.

Griffin’s involvement in this task force is a great opportunity for the UWG ESOL program as a whole.

“Of all of the universities in the state, the fact that I was chosen as a representative gives credence to our program,” he expressed.

Griffin brings his expertise to higher education after serving 13 years as a high school ESOL teacher.

“In our department, many of the faculty focus on the emergent readers and elementary grades,” Griffin said. “My background is more adolescent literacy in the middle and high school grades, specifically dealing with students who are multilingual.”

This endorsement is a great resource for teachers who want to pursue a position as an ESOL instructor, but it is also beneficial for all educators.

“Teachers who complete the endorsement are better equipped not only to better meet the needs of their multilingual students, but also all sorts of groups of diverse students,” Griffin said.

Having a unique understanding that not all students come from the same background is essential to ensuring they have the best educational experience possible.

“There are many immigrants now,” Griffin said. “Making connections with those families and showing them they are valued increases their motivation and desire to learn.”

Photography by Miranda Daniel

Posted on March 11, 2020