FARMINGTON — A shortage of qualified English Language Learners teachers combined with a growing population of students needing instruction has made ELL teachers a targeted need area in Maine.

This summer, University of Maine at Farmington ELL students and pre-service teachers participated in a pre-professional learning experience as 20 students from the HKMA David Li Kwok Po College in Hong Kong lived and learned at UMF July 29 to Aug. 10.

The UMF education students were enrolled in the University’s 16-credit ELL Certificate program that is specifically designed to prepare teachers to serve the needs of a culturally and linguistically diverse population.

According to the Maine Department of Education, Maine’s schools serve 5,413 ELLs from 96 language groups, 84 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged, according to raw data from 2016 Upon completion of the ELL Certificate program and the required Praxis II exam, students may apply to the state of Maine for the English as a Second Language Endorsement.

The students visiting from Hong Kong, along with their principal and vice principal, resided in a UMF residence hall for the two-week program to improve their English language skill.

In addition to English language lessons, journaling and one-on-one support to perfect their language skills, the visiting students got a taste of summer in Maine.


They will had dinners hosted by local families and get together with local high school students, as well as trips to Acadia, Rockland, local farms, the Wilton Blueberry Festival and camping.

Carol Lee, UMF associate professor of elementary science education and Linda Beck, UMF professor of political science and director of global education, have created the program with the goal of providing the most diverse educational and cultural experience for both UMF and visiting international students.

“This program is a great learning experience and classroom preparation for our students,” said Lee. “One of its key strengths is that it puts learning English in context, surrounded by the cultural, recreational and personal values that have to be experienced. The best way to learn about a country and its language is to understand its people, and this program is all about that.”

This summer’s program enhances a continuing relationship between UMF and Hong Kong, according to Lee. A UMF student taught English at the David Li Hong Kong school for several months in 2017 and an education student may be completing her student teaching there in 2019. An environmental planning and policy student traveled to Hong Kong to study its environmental policy.

For more information on this program and UMF’s ELL Certificate program, contact Carole Lee at

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