PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence is offering a new low-cost program for teachers to become certified teaching English as a second language.

WPRI-TV reports the program was created through a partnership between the Providence school department and Roger Williams University. Providence Superintendent Chris Maher says the yearlong program will help 100 teachers earn their ESL certification for $3,500.

Maher says less than one in five students in the district qualified for ESL classes six years ago. Now, he says the number is closer to one in four students.

The district has 372 certified ESL teachers, making up less than 20 percent of the workforce.

Maher says teachers will not be required to become certified or learn a new language. He says the program is designed to help students with little to no English skills.

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