Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ECTC?

The ECTC was a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA), that offered professional development for in-service secondary content and English-as-a-second-language (ESL) teachers throughout Ohio.

The ECTC trained teachers in the knowledge base and skills to help them improve the academic achievement, literacy and English language development of Ohio’s more than 40,000 ESL students (also called English language learners, or “ELLs”). The program offered workshops and graduate-level courses utilizing distance learning technology to reach participating teachers throughout the state.

Why is there a need for the ECTC in Ohio?

There are currently more than 40,000 ESL students enrolled in Ohio’s schools. While most teachers have taken courses that address the methods of their specific content area, like math, science or social studies, or courses in classroom management, technology, special education, and multiculturalism, few have ever taken courses about teaching immigrant students who’ve just arrived in the U.S. and speak little or no English whatsoever, or students who’ve had limited, if any, formal schooling in their home countries.

Consequently, teachers may feel unsure of how to meet the unique academic and social needs of ESL students and their families, many of whom are refugees, migrant workers or undocumented immigrants. Many ESL students struggle in American classrooms, and in extreme cases, may even drop out of school, because they do not receive the support they need.

How does the ECTC program help teachers?

The ECTC program makes a significant contribution to the professional lives of Ohio teachers who work with ELL students every day. The program’s classes and workshops train teachers to implement techniques that combine teachers’ content areas with English language instruction, as well as to understand issues surrounding second language learning and immigration in Ohio. The program also helps content and ESL teachers learn more about effective teacher-to-teacher collaboration, which benefits all students. Participating teachers will earn a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, develop teaching and training resources for their districts, and receive ongoing follow-up support after completion of the program. All four ECTC courses are transferable to The Ohio State University’s TESOL Endorsement Program.

How many ELLs are in Ohio?

Ohio has experienced a dramatic increase in new immigration in the past 15 years. During the 2006-2007 academic year, more than 35,000 ELLs were enrolled in the state’s elementary and secondary public schools. According to the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) Lau Resource Center (2010), this number represents an increase of 68 percent over the number reported five years previously and an increase of 182 percent over the number reported 10 years ago.

Ohio’s LEPs speak over 110 different home languages, and the top languages include Spanish, Somali, Arabic, Amish German, Japanese, Vietnamese, Russian, Korean, and Serbo-Croatian. ELLs come from new or established immigrant families (predominantly from Spanish-speaking countries), secondary migrants to Ohio from other states, migrant agricultural families, and refugees, since Ohio is a designated refugee resettlement state.

Why is it important for ELLs to receive extra support in school?

The impact on teaching and learning, resulting from Ohio’s increasing numbers of ELL students, is significant. Students are expected to become proficient in English and achieve academic content standards prescribed by the state either in sheltered or mainstream classes.

Particularly for ELLs at the secondary level, the academic stakes are much higher than in elementary school, because all students must pass the Ohio Graduation Test to graduate from high school. Also, students who are proficient enough in English to be mainstreamed into content classes with native English speakers, continue to need teachers who are trained to work with them.

While many districts have some teachers with training in teaching ESL, many do not have adequate support for content teachers to help ELLs meet the state’s standards of academic achievement. Rarely do content teachers receive training in methods that can make content more accessible to ELLs.

In short, content teachers have a need for extensive professional development in pedagogical methods and practices that have proven beneficial for ELLs. The education of Ohio’s increasing numbers of ELLs will be compromised unless immediate efforts are taken to address the training of secondary content teachers.

What are the benefits of participating in the ECTC?

The ECTC offered participating teachers four credit-bearing, graduate-level courses at The Ohio State University. This translated into an approximate $5,000 value per teacher. Tuition was paid for by the ECTC grant, and the four ECTC classes are directly transferable to The Ohio State University’s six-course TESOL Endorsement Program. Because of the intensive nature of the ECTC program, it would be possible for participants to work toward completing a TESOL Endorsement in under two years.

In addition to the financial and temporal incentives, the ECTC trained teachers in the latest, research-based methods and techniques for content and ESL instructional strategies. Additionally, teachers learned to develop collaborative working relationships with colleagues. Close mentoring from the ECTC team, fellow district team participants, and other districts’ participating teachers allowed each participant to develop a professional support network throughout the state. Successful completion of the ECTC affords participants increased professional status in their respective districts, and also enhances future salary and employment prospects in Ohio and the rest of the United States.

Who administered the ECTC?

The ECTC was administered by faculty and staff members in the Foreign and Second Language Education Program in the Department of Teaching & Learning, College of Education & Human Ecology, at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Our funding came from a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA).

All ECTC faculty and staff members had extensive backgrounds in language and/or content teaching in K-12 and higher education, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Each year, the ECTC team worked in partnership with approximately 40 secondary content and ESL teachers and school personnel from selected school districts in the State of Ohio.

What should I know as a content (or novice ESL) teacher about educating limited English proficient (LEP) students?

About Students

First, you should know that (if you haven’t already) at some point in your career, you will have LEP students in your classes, no matter what or where you teach (“LEP” is another designation used by departments of education for ELL students). By law, you must make accommodations to assist these students in their academic progress, which includes modifying instruction and providing alternative assessment.

About Teachers

Second, you should know that it is every teacher’s responsibility to assist in the education of LEP students; it is not acceptable to “push” students off on the ESL teacher and expect this teacher to “fix” the students or attend to all of their language and content needs. All content and ESL teachers must increasingly work together to assist their district’s LEP students.


Third, you should know that not all LEP students are the “same.” Some are literate in their L1; some are not. Some come from families with a high socio-economic status (SES); some are children of undocumented migrant workers. Some will stay in the U.S., while others may eventually return to their countries of origin. Some LEP students may also have learning disabilities. All of these variables will affect students’ language acquisition and academic performance.


Finally, you should know that there are many resources available to you as a teacher to help you work with your LEP students. Your most important resources are your district’s ESL coordinator and your district’s ESL teachers or paraprofessionals. The Internet offers a multitude of teaching resources and suggestions. Simply do a search using any of the keywords you have encountered (such as CBI, ESL teaching, LEP, etc.). Today, there are many more books in print that are geared toward teaching LEP students, and books for ESL students, too. You will learn more about these print resources in our classes and upcoming workshops. Finally, the Ohio Department of Education’s Lau Resource Center is also an important resource here in Ohio.

Ohio Department of Education

Office of Curriculum and Instruction

Center for Curriculum and Assessment

Lau Resource Center

25 South Front Street, Mail Stop 509

Columbus, OH 43215-4183

Toll-free: (877) 644-6338

Your ESL staff contacts at the Lau Resource Center are:


What is the best way to teach English to nonnative speakers?

There is no agreed-upon “best way” to teach English, as there are many different ways to learn languages, as well as many different purposes for language learning. In the ECTC, you will learn about a variety of techniques for language teaching and learning. Our program espouses a holistic approach to language and content instruction, and we emphasize the importance of options and flexibility for instructors.

The ESL/language teaching profession currently advocates various forms of “content-based instruction” (CBI). This means that language should be taught through content; language should never be taught by itself (i.e., as a series of grammatical rules to be learned). Content such as social studies, mathematics, science or language arts, etc., should be the premise, and language learning (for both L1 and L2 students) should always be based upon and related to the context of the academic content areas.

How can I join the ECTC?

As of Autumn 2012, the ECTC concluded its five-year program. 

The ECTC had collaborated with secondary in-service teachers from districts in Ohio that have high percentages or numbers of LEP students in their schools and have a demonstrated need for teacher professional development for ESL. Districts were solicited by the ECTC for participation, or they could request to participate. Because of the ECTC’s focus on collaboration, only teams (cohorts) of secondary teachers from selected districts could participate.