Jan 31, 2007    #015
Contact: Amanda Lepper
(816) 235-1592

UMKC's TESOL program addresses needs of growing number of Spanish-speaking students

In recent years, the number of Spanish speaking students in Kansas City’s school districts has grown exponentially, yet the number of educators trained to teach non-English speakers has remained relatively stagnant. In an effort to address this crucial educational need, the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Education has reestablished its program for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

“More than 45 million people in the United States speak a language other than English, and 10 million of those are students who require TESOL,” said Michael Wei, Ph.D., director of UMKC’s TESOL program.

Under Wei’s direction, the TESOL program was revitalized this fall with four overhauled classes and eight new course offerings. Students can choose from a variety of TESOL degrees and certification, including endorsement in TESOL for educators who already have their teaching certificate, a Master of Arts in Curriculum Instruction with an emphasis in TESOL or a newly available Ph.D. in TESOL. Each program trains students to adapt methods, material and curricula to a variety of culturally and linguistically diverse settings.

“TESOL educators are constantly in great demand,” Wei said. “I’ve never heard of anyone who graduated with a TESOL degree who didn’t get a job.”

Nearly 50 master’s students currently are enrolled in the program, in addition to a handful of doctoral students. Wei explains a foreign language background isn’t necessary to becoming a successful TESOL educator but said he would like to see an increase in Spanish-speaking students in his program to address the demand in Kansas City.

Recruitment for the TESOL program is ongoing, and those interested in learning more should go online to or contact Wei at (816) 235-2498 or

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences and urban affairs.

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).



Bookmark and Share