Frequently Asked Questions

Program Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about the Intermediate Unit 1’s ESL Program Specialist certification program:

Where do I access the English as a Second Language (ESL) certification application in order to apply to the Intermediate Unit 1 ESL Program Specialist certification program?

Applications and additional information can be accessed on our website. You must hold a valid Pennsylvania Instructional certificate in order to be accepted into the IU1 ESL Program Specialist certification program since this program is for an add-on ESL certification.

How much computer experience do I need to take the IU1 online ESL certification program?

You must have some basic knowledge of posting to a discussion board online as well as uploading a document from your computer. You will also need access to a scanner in order to scan time logs signed by the ESL certified teacher who is working with you. It is a requirement to upload these scanned, signed documents into each of the courses. If this is your first online course, it will generally take longer to complete the assignments until you are comfortable navigating the Moodle platform.

What computer software must I have loaded on my computer in order to complete the IU1 ESL Program Specialist coursework?

It is recommended that you run the Firefox browser when accessing the Moodle coursework. Moodle functions best in this browser. Also, you must submit all assignment in either Microsoft Word or PDF format.

What courses are included in the ESL certification?

The IU1 ESL certification program consists of six classes delivered online via Moodle:

  1. ESL 1: Introduction to Teaching English as a Second Language
  2. ESL 2: Developing Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity
  3. ESL 3: Observing, Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction
  4. ESL 4: Language Acquisition and Development
  5. ESL 5: Assessment and Support
  6. ESL 6: English Language Learners Family, Community, and Professionalism

What is the content focus of each course?

Please click here to view course descriptions within the program.

Do I have to take the courses in order?

It is recommend that these courses are taken in order.

Can I take more than one course at a time?

Yes, a participant can take more than one course at a time, but this is not recommended. Each course is 3 CPE credits, which is similar to a graduate level course condensed into a six week window, which makes it difficult to complete more than one course during the allotted six week course window. Also, each course has 10 hours of field experience per course and the field experience must be completed in a K-12 ESL classroom setting working under a certified ESL teacher.  Many participants find it difficult to complete the required condensed online course material as well as the field experience hours per course in the six week course window.  

Do I earn any Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits?

Each course is three CPE credits (90 Act 48 hours). Each course is a written as though it is a semester long course fit into a six week timeframe. It is not recommended to take more than one course at a time due to the workload in each course.

Will the IU1 ESL CPE courses count toward a raise in my district?

Maybe.   Each union contract is different.  Some contracts accept CPE courses toward a pay increase while others do not.  Some union contracts will not accept a course that is not associated with a college or university.  Although  IU1 ESL CPE coursework is  approved by PDE, the IU1 ESL courses are NOT associated with a college or university.  Please check your local union contract prior to beginning this coursework to see if IU1 ESL CPE credits count towards a pay scale increase.

Can the IU1 CPE courses count toward a Level 2 certification?

All IU CPE coursework does count toward a Level 2 certification, but it may not count toward a pay increase.  (IU1 recommends that each individual checks your local union contract to determine if CPE coursework will count for a pay increase. See question above.)

How long is each course and how long will it take for me to complete the program?

Each of the courses last six weeks with a one week break prior to the next course offering. Courses are not offered between mid-June and mid-August because the required field experience hours cannot be obtained during the summer months. It takes approximately one calendar year to complete the IU1 ESL certification program. See below for information regarding field experience requirements.

Do I need to be online at a certain time?

No. Assignments open on Sunday for the week and are due the following Sunday by midnight. There is not a specific time of day or amount of time that a person must allocate to the online coursework each week. Participants work at their own pace throughout the week on the assignments; however, students must also be working on the final field experience project throughout the course beginning in week one. See below for information regarding field experience requirements.

How much time is needed to complete per course?

If this is your first online course, it will generally take longer to complete the assignments until you are comfortable navigating the Moodle platform. The average user spends between 6–8 hours a week working on weekly assignments and the final project requirements.

Are there textbooks for each course?

Yes, there are textbooks for Courses 2–6. There is no textbook for Course 1. The participant is given the name of the textbook at the end of the previous course. Participants are required to purchase the textbook on their own. Many participants use Amazon and other companies to purchase textbooks at reduced costs. The textbook for Course 3 is the only textbook that must be purchased through IU1 and will be sent to you when you register for Course 3.

Can you please explain the field experience requirements for this program?

For the IU1 ESL certification program, each participant must complete 10 hours of field experience per course. These 10 hours per course are tied to projects that must be completed for each course. Since the IU1 program is online and people all over the world are enrolled in this program, participants are in charge of finding their own field placements for each course. These field placements must take place in a K–12 ESL classroom setting working under a certified ESL teacher. Field placements are similar to a student teaching experience in an ESL classroom setting. Field placements cannot take place in your own classroom or in a content area classroom. These must take place working under an ESL certified teacher in a K–12 ESL classroom.

How can a full time teacher complete the 10 hour field experience per course?

Yes, a full time teacher can complete the field experience requirements, but may need to get creative in completing the 10 hours per course. Some teachers work with their administrator to arrange their schedules. Others complete their hours working under an ESL teacher during their prep time. Sometimes a high school teacher will leave the high school at the end of the day at 2:30 and drive to the local elementary school to finish the day with the ESL teacher at that school which ends at 3:30. Participants will need to find a way that best fits their schedule to complete their 10 hours of field experience per course.

How do I complete my field experience hours over the summer when school is not in session?

IU1 takes a course break from mid-June to mid-August and does not hold online ESL courses because we cannot guarantee that participants will be able to find appropriate field placements over the summer months.

Will I need to update my clearances in order to complete my field experience?

Maybe. If you already teach in the district where you will be completing your observation hours, then you will not need updated clearances since the district should already have these on file. If you plan on completing your field experience hours in a school where you are not currently employed, then yes, you are required to submit your clearances to the school where you are observing and to IU1.

How are these courses graded?

Assignments are posted for each week on Sunday and must be turned in by 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time the following Sunday evening to be considered on time in order to receive full credit. To get full points for your forum posts/assignments, you must:

  1. Submit completed work on time.
  2. Meet all criteria asked for in the assignment along with elaboration, good grammar, spelling and writing. Proofread before posting!

Assignments and discussion/forum postings and replies submitted after the due date will receive a 10% grade deduction. In other words, assignments which would have been rated 100% if submitted on time would be now graded starting at 90% the first day it is late. For each additional day an assignment is late, an additional 10% will be deducted from the assignment.

This course is graded on a pass/fail system. In order to receive a passing grade, you must complete all assignments in the course and carry an average of 80% or higher for the course. A grading policy is posted within each course for your review.

Will I need to take a Praxis exam at the end of the coursework in order to get certified?

No, you will not need to take a Praxis exam to get ESL Program Specialist added to your certificate. You will apply online after the courses are over through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) system. IU1 and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) will approve your certificate based on your coursework.

Can I transfer ESL graduate-level classes that I have taken from other colleges, universities, or intermediate units into the IU1 ESL Program Specialist certification?

Maybe. In order to see if your previous graduate level ESL coursework qualifies, you would need to send a summary of the course, a course syllabus, and your official transcript from the course to for review. IU1 will compare your course content with that of the IU1 courses on a case-by-case basis. Once IU1 receives this information, you will be contacted to discuss your coursework. Please remember that IU1 courses also have a 10 hour field experience component that must be accounted for in the classes you are attempting to transfer.

How do I obtain a copy of my transcripts and/or payment receipt for the ESL course?

Maybe.  You can access both your transcipt and receipt for all sessions by logging into your Frontline Professional Growth Account.  Click on My Info and pick the desired menu item. 

For a formal transcript on IU 1 Letterhead with a seal, please contact Sarah Collins at

How do I apply for my ESL Certification once I have completed the ESL course?

Click here for step-by-step instructions to apply for your ESL Certification on TIMS.

Whom should I contact with additional questions regarding the IU1 ESL Program Specialist certification program?

For questions about the IU1 ESL certification program, please contact:

Ronald Gallagher
Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction
724-938-3241 ext. 230

For questions about the admission process for the IU1 ESL Certification Program, please contact:

Lisa Pople
Administrative Assistant
724-938-3241 ext. 215

Admissions Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about applying to the Intermediate Unit 1 ESL Program Specialist certification program:

Do I need to have a valid teaching certificate to begin the program?

Yes, you must hold a valid Pennsylvania Instructional I or II certificate in order to be accepted into the IU1 ESL Program Specialist certification program. This is a PDE requirement because this program is an add-on ESL certification to your existing Instructional certification.

If my Pennsylvania Instructional certificate has expired, can I still apply to the program?

Possibly, you will need to contact Jenny Lent to discuss the reasons for the expiration of your certificate. Jenny Lent can be reached at or at 724-938-3241 ext. 268.

Do I need to send all the required documentation with my application?

Yes, the following documentation is a requirement for acceptance into the program:

  • Completed ESL Program Specialist application (Word Document)
  • Official sealed transcript(s) of undergraduate and graduate work
  • 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in undergraduate and graduate work
  • A copy of Instructional Teacher Certificate I or II
  • Current résumé
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement: a letter of intention outlining the candidate’s professional and educational goals

You will be notified by email if your application is incomplete and what is missing.

Is it possible to have my official sealed transcripts sent directly to the Intermediate Unit 1?

Yes, you may have your official sealed transcripts sent to:

Lisa Pople
ESL Certification Program
Intermediate Unit 1
One Intermediate Unit Drive
Coal Center, PA 15423

Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation? Why do I need to include this in my application packet?

The two letters of recommendation are a requirement for acceptance into IU1’s approved program through Pennsylvania Department of Education. For example, the letters can be from district administration, previous employers, coworkers, or others, outside of your family. Letter must be specific to our program and must state why that person feels that you would be an excellent candidate for the IU1 ESL Certification program.

Can I mail my application if I am still waiting for two letters of recommendation or my official sealed transcripts?

Yes, you can mail your application if you are waiting for a letter of recommendation or official sealed transcripts. As previously mentioned, official transcripts can be mailed directly to Sarah Collins at Intermediate Unit 1. Letters of recommendation may also be mailed separately as long as it is received two weeks prior to the course start date.

How do I know if I am accepted into the program? When can I register for the courses?

Once IU1 receives your completed ESL program application packet, a confirmation email will be sent to you. Information regarding registering for the courses along with paperwork that you will need to sign and return will be mailed to you in an acceptance packet one month prior to the cohort start date.

When is the deadline to apply for the next cohort? Can I apply if the first course has already started?

Your application should be received at least one month prior to a new cohort beginning, in order for the IU to send you an acceptance packet and additional information on registering for the appropriate courses. If you are unable to start the first course on time, please contact Lisa Pople at 724-938-3241 ext. 215 or to discuss other possible options.