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ESL Teacher Certification in Iowa

ESL teachers are in high demand in Iowa, working with all types of students. Teachers in Iowa receive an endorsement in addition to a standard teaching license. To learn about the requirements for ESL endorsement in Iowa, continue reading.

Overview of ESL Teaching Career Path

ESL teachers work with students who do not speak English as a first language to help them succeed in school. The table below will provide more information on what is required to receive an ESL endorsement.

Education/Experience Required: Bachelor's Degree, with 18 semester hours of coursework in English as a Second Language;
Completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program*.
Exams Required: Pedagogy test for your chosen grade level;
English to Speakers of Other Languages**.
License Validity Period: Initial license can be upgraded to a standard License in two years.
Standard License must be renewed every five years***.
Credits Required for Renewal: 6***
Mean Wage (2018): $53,230 (Kindergarten); $54,500 (Elementary);
$55,300 (Middle School);
$56,510 (High School);
$54,210 (Adult)****
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026 Nationwide): 7% (Kindergarten and Elementary);
8% (Middle and High School);
-5% (Adult)****

Sources: *University of Iowa, **ETS Praxis, ***Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, ****Bureau of Labor Statistics - Salary is not specific to ESL Teachers, but teachers generally.

Education and Training Requirements

In Iowa, to become certified in English as a Second Language, an ESL endorsement is required in addition to your teacher preparation program. To earn an endorsement for English as a Second Language, you must complete 18 semester hours of courses, consisting of six hours of pedagogy, six hours of linguistics, six hours of cultural and linguistic diversity, and six hours covering current issues with transient populations. Some schools may require you to complete more hours. You will also have to complete a practicum and/or student teaching, at both the K-6 and 7-12 levels.

Test Requirements

To become a teacher in Iowa, you must pass a Praxis pedagogy test and a content test. What pedagogy test you take will depend on your chosen grade, but all the tests are designed to make sure you understand best practices for teaching. The qualifying score will depend on the type of test you are taking, but will generally be from 157-160.

The content test for an ESL teacher is English to Speakers of Other Languages, which will test you on your knowledge of linguistics, language learning, planning instruction, and assessment, as well as the importance of culture and professionalism. The qualifying score is 149.

Licensing Requirements

Upon completing your teacher preparation program with ESL endorsement, you will be qualified to receive an initial teaching license, which lasts for two years. You will be able to convert it two a standard license after two years of teaching in an Iowa public school, or three years of teaching in an accredited private or out-of-state school. If you need to, you can renew your initial license twice.

A standard license lasts for five years and requires six credits and mandatory reporter training to renew. Credits can be earned from approved providers like the AEA system, ISEA, PEI, Iowa Safe Schools, MISIC, as well as undergraduate or graduate colleges.

Job Description

English as a Second Language teacher will teach students who do not speak English as their first language how to communicate in English. You will often be working with immigrants, teaching them practical English that will help them in school, their jobs, and their everyday lives. ESL teachers can work with any student, K-12, as well as adult learners. You do necessarily need to speak the same language as your students to teach ESL; however, you will need to be thoughtful about how you will communicate with students who may not share a common language with you or each other.