What Do I Need for an ESL Certification?

English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers teach English to non-English speaking students. You can qualify to be an (ESL) teacher by earning a bachelor's degree and taking additional specialized courses. Depending on where you'd like to work, you also may need to become ESL-certified. Continue reading for more information. Schools offering Teaching ESL degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

English as a Second Language Defined

Teaching ESL involves helping children and adult language learners acquire fluency in spoken and written English. You can be an ESL teacher in the United States or abroad, working with students who want to learn English for such purposes as education, travel or business. Certification or endorsement is required for ESL teachers who wish to be employed in U.S. public schools; it also can boost employment opportunities at private institutions or overseas.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2014) $49,590 (for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teacher); $56,310 (for high school teachers)
Key Skills Communication skills, patience, resourcefulness
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 7% growth (for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teacher); 6% growth (for high school teachers)
Work Environment Private or public schools, social assistance offices, colleges and universities

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Paths

You can train for teaching ESL in a number of ways. The most common two are post-baccalaureate certificate and master's degree programs. A few bachelor's degree programs with an ESL concentration are available. Choosing an education-related major can prepare you to become a state-licensed teacher, which is necessary if you want to teach in a public elementary, middle or high school. ESL teachers may also work at community colleges and adult education centers. Teaching licensure requirements vary by state but typically involve having a minimum of a 4-year degree, completing a supervised teaching experience and passing an exam.

Once you have your bachelor's degree and are licensed to teach, you'll still need to earn an endorsement or certification to be able to teach ESL in a public school. You can do this by enrolling in an ESL endorsement or add-on certification program. Another option is to enter a master's degree program with an ESL emphasis, though these programs don't always result in an endorsement, since some are geared toward those who want to teach ESL at the postsecondary level.

Endorsement or Add-On Certification

This route may be for you if you want to teach ESL at the kindergarten through high school levels. Endorsement or add-on certification programs usually consist of at least four courses, which cover curriculum, instruction and assessment for multicultural and multilingual classes. You also might study linguistics. Training generally can be completed within a year, and, once finished, you'll receive an ESL endorsement or certification added to your state teaching license.

Master's Degree

Teaching ESL at the postsecondary level requires at least a master's degree, such as a Master of Education or Master of Arts in Teaching ESL. However, some master's degree programs are geared specifically for teaching at the K-12 level, while others may focus on teaching both adults and children. Curricula commonly cover research methodologies, curriculum development and ESL teaching practices. You should be able to finish a master's program in two years, and you may earn an ESL teaching endorsement upon completion.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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