ESL Teacher Requirements in Illinois

Teachers of English as a second language (ESL) educate students who do not use English as their primary language. Discover more about the requirements you need to become an ESL teacher in Illinois, such as degree and tests. Schools offering Teaching ESL degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Illinois ESL Teacher Career Information

English as a second language (ESL) teachers in Illinois are qualified to instruct students of all grade levels. They teach students how to write, read, and speak effectively in English. The required license is the Special K-12 Professional Educator License with an endorsement in ESL. Continue reading below to find out more about the specific requirements needed to receive this license.

Education Required Bachelor's degree and state-approved teacher preparation program
Experience Required Student teaching
Exam Requirements Basic skills test; edTPA; ILTS English as a New Language content test
License Renewal Period Five years
Requirements for Renewal 120 hours of professional development
Average Salary for Teachers in Illinois (2018) $62,140 (elementary school); $63,860 (middle school); $72,370 (high school)*
Estimated Job Growth for Teachers in Illinois (2016-2026) 3.7% (elementary school); 3.8% (middle school); 3.8% (high school)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Illinois Department of Employment Security

Complete Education Requirements

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to become an ESL teacher in Illinois. Prospective teachers must also complete a teacher preparation program that has been approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Students typically choose to major in ESL education, elementary education with a focus on ESL, or another related major. As part of the program, students will take courses in subjects such as linguistics, phonetics, methods of teaching ESL, classroom management, and human development. Depending on the school, students may also be required to take courses in a foreign language.

Students must show that they have completed coursework that covers instruction in four content areas: reading in the content area, cross-categorical special education methods, reading methods and ESL/bilingual methods. Students should always verify with their school that the courses they choose for this requirement will be accepted by the state board.

Gain the Required Experience

All prospective teachers in Illinois must show that they have obtained experience as a student teacher. This is generally completed as part of a requirement of the teacher preparation program. The student teaching fieldwork portion of the program places students in local ESL classrooms as a student teacher, where they can gain experience instructing students and managing a classroom.

Pass Required Exams

The ILTS content exam required for prospective ESL teachers is the English as a New Language (ENL) exam. This computer-based exam contains 125 multiple-choice questions and requires a minimum passing score of 240. Test-takers will answer questions covering subjects within three subareas: foundations of ENL instruction, development of English language skills, and professional collaboration, conduct, and growth.

Prospective ESL teachers must also pass a basic skills tests, which is done by submitting either SAT or ACT scores. The minimum SAT score required to pass the basic skills requirement is 1110 (writing and language score of 26). The minimum required ACT score to pass is 22 (writing score of 6).

Applicants must also take the teacher preparation assessment (edTPA) in English as an Additional Language once they finish their student teaching experience. A score of 39 is needed to pass this test.

Submit Application

After all requirements have been met, prospective teachers can apply for the Special K-12 Professional Educator License with an ESL endorsement. To do so, applicants must submit an application form, supporting documents, transcripts, and fee payment to the Illinois Board of Education. This license is valid for five years.

Fulfill Renewal Requirements

After five years, ESL teachers must apply to renew their license. As part of the renewal process, they must complete a minimum of 120 hours of professional development from one of the providers approved by the Illinois Board of Education. Teachers also must pay a fee and send in a renewal application.

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