How to Become an ESL Teacher in Massachusetts: Training & Certification

Learn how to become an English as a second language (ESL) teacher in Massachusetts. Find out more about the education, training, exam, and certification requirements for this license. Schools offering Teaching ESL degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

ESL Teacher Career Information

English as a second language (ESL) teachers instruct students who do not speak English as their primary language. They help these students develop their fluency in speaking as well as their reading and writing abilities. Prospective teachers in Massachusetts can obtain one of two ESL licenses - grades PreK-6 and grades 5-12 - after earning a bachelor's degree and passing standardized tests.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree in ESL education; state-approved teacher preparation program
Exams Required MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills; MTEL ESL
License Validity Period Initial license valid five years; can be extended once for an additional five years if needed
Advancement Requirements Three-years of experience, 50 hours with a mentor, completion of a graduate or approved program
Massachusetts Mean Salary (2018)* $82,600 (elementary school); $79,030 (middle school); $80,020 (high school)
Massachusetts Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026)** 11.1% (elementary school); 11.2% (middle and high school)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance

Fulfill Education and Training Requirements

All prospective ESL teachers must earn a bachelor's degree before applying for an initial license. Students should choose to major in bilingual or ESL education, with a focus on either teaching PreK-6 or grades 5-12. Both degree programs typically include coursework in linguistics, child development, methods of teaching bilingual education, language and literacy, and language acquisition. Depending on the program, students may also be required to take courses in a language other than English.

Prospective teachers also must complete a teacher preparation program approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This program is generally completed as part of the bachelor's degree program but can also be completed as a standalone certificate or master's degree. This program includes a fieldwork component, which gives students real-world experience as student teachers in a classroom setting.

Complete Exam Requirements

Prospective ESL teachers must pass two exams: the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) in Communication and Literacy Skills and the MTEL in English as a Second Language. The Communication and Literacy MTEL contains two subtests. The reading subtest contains 42 multiple-choice questions, while the writing subtest includes a combination of multiple-choice , short-answer, and open-response questions. Students must receive a minimum score of 240 on each subtest to pass this exam.

The English as a Second Language MTEL includes 100 multiple-choice questions and two open-response questions that cover subject areas such as linguistics, language acquisition, second language instruction, and content area learning. The minimum passing score for this exam is 240.

Submit Application

Once all requirements are completed, applicants can submit their application for the initial license through the Educator Licensure and Renewal Portal. Applicants must submit a completed application, passing scores for the required exams, official transcripts, and the application fee to be considered for the license.

Meet Renewal Requirements

The initial license is valid for five years. After five years, teachers are expected to advance to the professional license. To apply for the professional license, teachers must hold a valid initial license and have completed three full years of teaching experience, a first-year induction program, and 50 hours with a mentor. Teachers must also have completed a master's degree or other type of professional development.

Teachers who are unable to complete the requirements for the professional license within five years can apply to extend their initial license. To do so, teachers must show proof that they are employed by a school, plan to complete the professional license advancement requirements, reapply for the initial license and pay the fee. Once accepted, the initial license is valid for an additional five years.

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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