ESL Teacher Certification Programs in Illinois

Want to become a certified teacher of English as a second language (ESL) in Illinois? Explore the state's school options and curriculum requirements, and check out earnings potential once you get certified. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

The number of students in U.S. public schools with English as their second language is growing every year, and with it, the need for teachers who can teach this unique population. Fortunately, Illinois schools offer several options to get certified, including accelerated programs and evening classes. All programs focus on grammar, linguistics, and teaching methodology to prepare you to deliver classroom content. Programs also often discuss the cultural and diversity aspects of teaching ESL.

What Are the Requirements to Get Certified to Teach ESL Classes?

You'll need to earn an ESL endorsement and have a Professional Educator License (PEL) for the state of Illinois to teach ESL classes to grades Pre-K through 12th. To qualify for this endorsement, you must take 18 semester hours in specific areas of study and clock at least 100 hours (or 3 months) of ESL teaching experience to qualify for the endorsement. The required subjects include:

  • Linguistics
  • Theoretical foundations of teaching ESL
  • Methods and materials for teaching ESL
  • Assessment of the bilingual student
  • Cross-cultural studies for teaching limited-English proficient students
  • Elective (an additional ESL or bilingual course)

ESL and bilingual certifications are close cousins, but an ESL endorsement prepares you to teach a class predominantly in English, whereas a bilingual certification prepares you to teach classes both in English and the alternative language for which you are certified.

What Are Undergraduate ESL Certification Programs Like?

Many colleges offer programs designed to lead to the ESL endorsement. Program curricula require almost 20 hours of coursework and often include opportunities to fulfill your 100-hour hands-on training requirement. Some programs also offer opportunities to earn your PEL simultaneously. You might even be able to add on a bilingual endorsement as well.

Which Schools Offer Undergraduate ESL Programs?

Students can complete an ESL curriculum through ESL minors, bachelor's degree programs in fields like urban education, and nondegree continuing education programs at the following schools:

  • University of Illinois - Chicago
  • DePaul College of Education
  • Western Illinois University

What Can I Learn in a Graduate-Level ESL Certification Program?

Graduate program options for getting your ESL endorsement often result in a graduate certificate or a master's degree. Programs resulting in a degree require the standard ESL endorsement courses in addition to classes in such areas as qualitative research, reading for young adults, and understanding children. Programs usually include opportunities to get experience in teaching environments as part of the curriculum. They also often provide flexible schedules if you have a day job or offer accelerated program formats dependent on your need.

Where Can I Find Graduate ESL Certification Programs?

The following schools offer ESL training through graduate certificates and master's degree programs in fields like literacy education, early childhood education, science education, and curriculum and instruction:

  • Northern Illinois University
  • University of Illinois - Chicago
  • Olivet University

How Much Can I Make as an ESL Teacher?

Unfortunately, statistics specifically for ESL-certified teachers aren't readily available, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual mean wage of an Illinois high school teacher as of May of 2018 was $72,370, and the average mean wage of a middle school teacher was $63,860. Illinois' elementary school teachers earned an average salary of $62,140.

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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