Department of English

Certificate in Secondary English Language Arts

The Certificate in Secondary English Language Arts (SELA) is a four-course (twelve graduate credit hours) series of graduate courses designed to provide content and pedagogical methods for secondary English Language Arts educators who seek competencies in literature, writing, and language study. This program, which began in Spring 2013, is a course of study that can be pursued before, during, or separate from getting a graduate degree.



This program is targeted for the practicing English teacher who wants to:

  • Enhance specific areas of professional practice
  • Understand current English Language Arts theory and research
  • Study borderlands literature to use in secondary ELA classrooms
  • Acquire analytical skills for understanding varied language patterns
  • Practice culturally relevant pedagogy
  • Develop, critique, and deliver effective curricula
  • Apply College and Career Readiness Standards
  • Prepare for teacher licensure subject area tests
  • Acquire specific knowledge for teaching advanced courses

Taking these courses will help you to make your students better readers and writers. Classes meet on weekday evenings and have some online components. The courses are offered in this rotation every year. Students in the SELA certificate program take the following four courses in any sequence.

  • English 6324  Pedagogy in Rhetoric, Composition and Literacy (every spring)
  • English 6350  Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics for Teachers (every fall)
  • English 6390  Studies in Special Topics: Literature for Secondary Teachers (every spring)
  • English ____ (You select any literature or creative writing graduate course in the English Department for which you meet prerequisites or get instructor permission.)

Admissions Criteria for Certificate in SELA:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Conditional admission may be possible. Inquiries are welcome from all practicing English Language Arts teachers.

Faculty Contacts for Information about SELA Program

Reach faculty by telephone through the Department of English at 665-3421.

Secondary English Language Arts Required Courses

Required SELA Graduate Course Offered in Fall Semester

 English 6350: Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics for Teachers

In Fall 2013, English 6350 (Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics for Teachers) meets on Tuesday evenings, 5:45 to 8:25 PM, on the UTPA campus. The course professor is Dr. Pamela Anderson-Mejias.This is a Reduced Seat Time course. This introduction to descriptive linguistics for teachers exemplifies how language instruction can be more effective and socially responsible when teachers' classroom practice is informed by language theory. English 6350 provides hands-on training in the description and analysis of language structures at the sound, word, and sentence levels in a variety of languages with focus on those in the Rio Grande Valley. The goals of the course are (i) to provide teachers with the skills to identify and explain variable patterns of language use and (ii) to enable teachers to apply these analytical skills to actual examples of language use in classroom contexts.  We will discuss differences between prescriptive and descriptive practice and how that affects student learning as well as consider why we teach the various aspects of language and give examples of techniques which may assist students having difficulty with language issues in their pronunciation, reading and writing practice.

Required SELA Graduate Courses Offered in Spring Semester

English 6324: Pedagogy in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy

Writing instruction should begin with a clear understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. When writing teachers working in complex language environments like the Valley have working knowledge of writing instruction theories and research, they are better prepared to make pedagogical choices based on best practices. In English 6324, students read writing research through the lens of theoretical discussions to develop a writing praxis: a philosophy for teaching writing grounded not in course content but in best writing practices. The professor and focus for this course may vary each year. In Spring 2013, Dr. Danika Brown taught the course with a focus on “Critical Pedagogy and Ethical Issues in Teaching Literacy.” The course focused on the teaching of language practices in rhetoric, composition, and literacy more broadly from the approach of critical pedagogy. It examined issues of language and power, the goals of social justice and the practice of teaching, and the sociopolitical challenges in contemporary education.

  English 6390: Literature for Secondary Teachers

In this course designed for in-service teachers, students will experience two complementary foci of instruction. Focus one will be a discussion of current best practices in pedagogical methods for teaching literature in grades 6-12. The second, complementary focus offers students a chance to experience contemporary teaching strategies for teaching literature through the modeled teaching practice of the instructor and classmates. In this experience, students read contemporary literary texts and complete reading and writing assignments suitable for students in grades 6-12. This course challenges class members to analyze their experiences as teachers and learners and to innovate classroom approaches. The goal of the course is to help in-service teachers renew, refine, and articulate the philosophies and teaching strategies in their own professional teaching practices. This course, taught by Dr. Amy Cummins, devotes special attention to culturally relevant pedagogy, contemporary Mexican American literature, and the challenges of supporting students’ reading and interpretive development in a high-stakes testing environment.




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