Elementary and secondary school teachers in most states in the US must have a degree in education with an endorsement or add-on certification in ESL. Certification requirements can be obtained from state departments of education and may be reciprocal from state to state. University teacher-training programs offer the required courses and are another source of information regarding state certification requirements.
Here are some key features of certification in states where there is a high or fast-growing demand for EL educators:
EL/Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) Program
Teachers at all grade levels and in all content areas working in California must complete English learner (EL) coursework as part of the standard teacher preparation process. Approved teacher preparation programs for becoming a licensed educator in California will include this coursework as part of the bachelor’s or master’s program, so new educators in California will automatically earn an EL/Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) authorization on their teaching credential upon earning their teaching license.
Teachers who completed their education through an out-of-state program have three options for achieving EL authorization:
Take and pass the California Teachers of English Learners (CTEL) exam, which is offered four times a year. You can study for the CTEL by attending district or county training. Learn more at www.ctcexams.nesinc.com.
Complete at least twelve units of college coursework. For the list of approved programs, visit www.ctc.ca.gov/commission/reports/data/approved-institutions-and-programs.
Complete a combination of university coursework and the CTEL exam. If you’ve passed one or more CTEL exams, you may qualify for EL authorization by completing fewer courses through select colleges/universities.
California’s two-tiered credentialing system for teachers involves the completion of an induction program (a two-year, job-imbedded program) that provides close support to teachers during the first and second years of teaching.
After completing one of the state’s approved induction programs (www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/teacher-induction), teachers are then eligible for a clear teaching credential.
To become an ESL teacher in Texas, candidates need to:
Earn a Degree in TESOL while Completing a Teacher Prep Program
The course of study will need to include an approved educator preparation program (https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECOnline/approvedprograms.asp).
There are three types of ESL educator preparation programs, which correspond to different grade levels:
ESL generalist for grades 4–8
ESL generalist for early childhood through grade six
ESL supplemental for all grades—this option is only available if you are already a certified Texas teacher and are adding on an extra ESL certification
Complete the Texas Testing Requirements
Candidates need to complete up to three assessments (Basic Skills Test, Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities Exam, ESL Test) to be eligible for certification. See the Texas Education Agency Electronic Testing Service (ETS) website (https://tea.texas.gov/texas-educators/certification/educator-testing/test-registration-and-preparation).
Apply for Teaching License and TESOL Certification
At this point, prospective xx= submit an application to become certified ESL teachers through the Educator Certification Online System (https://tea.texas.gov/texas-educators/certification/educator-certification-online-system).
Applications need to include official transcripts from degree and ESL educator preparation programs. Test scores are automatically sent to the Texas Education Agency once they are calculated.
Add ESL to an Existing Certificate
Certified teachers in Texas can also add an ESL certification to their existing certifications by passing the appropriate ESL test that corresponds to the grades to be taught.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction offers both a primary and an add-on K–12 ESL license. New teaching candidates can earn an ESL bachelor’s or master’s degree through a state-approved educator preparation program or earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in elementary, secondary, or special education and complete the required ESL education through a track, minor, or concentration.
If you are already a North Carolina licensed teacher, you can earn an add-on ESL license by completing an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, or master’s in ESL.
With a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may qualify for a master’s degree leading to an initial teaching license. Many schools that offer bachelor-level teaching certificate programs also offer master’s options that include all of the coursework and practical experience necessary.
All prospective EL teachers in North Carolina must pass the Praxis exams (Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Writing, Mathematics) Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing unless they hold qualifying ACT or SAT scores. In addition, they must pass the Praxis II: English to Speakers of Other Languages (www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials/5362).