How to become an esl teacher

In many areas of the United States, particularly in the southern and western portions of the country, a growing number of K-12 teachers in public school settings are becoming English as a Second Language (ESL) certified to meet the growing demand coming from English Language Learners (ELLs) in the area.

The Department of Education defines ELLs as students enrolled in an elementary or secondary school:

  • Who were not born in the United States and whose native language is not English
  • Whose level of English proficiency may deny them the ability to succeed on state tests and in English-led classrooms, or otherwise prevent them from fully participating in society

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) 2020 Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating ELLs shows that nearly 10% of all students in U.S. public schools are English Language Learners, representing a student population of 4.8 million as of 2018. Even while most ELLs still end up in inner-city classrooms, more and more suburban and rural school districts are also expanding ESL services to accommodate a growing number of ELL students that are now calling those smaller communities home.

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How to become an esl teacher

Education and Training Requirements to Become an ESL Teacher

Individuals who want to learn how to become an ESL teacher may seek an ESL teacher degree through a state-approved teacher preparation program at the undergraduate or graduate level. Different programs are designed to meet the requirements for either an initial license or an add-on ESL endorsement.

Many, but not all, states offer ESL as a primary content area endorsement for initial licensure. However, it is more common for state’s to offer ESL as an additional endorsement for teachers already licensed and certified in a standard content area.

Qualifications to become an ESL teacher vary from one state to the next, as state boards of education are responsible for setting minimum standards for ESL primary licensure and/or additional ESL endorsements. Candidates must ensure they meet the qualifications and requirements for licensure or certification specified by their state board of education.

Licensed educators seeking ESL certification may have a license in elementary education or a secondary education subject. Although many teachers seeking an ESL add-on endorsement at the secondary level are licensed in English or Language Arts, it is common for teachers of other subjects to seek ESL certification so as to best serve their multilingual classrooms.

Educators may pursue one of two ESL certificate programs: graduate certificates or independent certificates. Both types of certificate programs require candidates to possess a bachelor’s degree. Teachers that want to apply their ESL credits toward the completion of a master’s degree usually seek graduate-level certificates.
Independent certificates, on the other hand, generally consist of between 15 and 18 credits and are designed to focus on practical training and the different methods for teaching language to ELLs.

Providing High-Quality Instruction to English Language Learners

Although state boards of education set the requirements for becoming an ESL teacher within the nation’s public schools, ESL has its original roots in the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Common Core State Standards now address the needs of English language learners.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA), which consolidated the Bilingual Education and the Emergency Immigration Education program, is now part of the Title III, English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act.

The Department of Education, through Title III, distributes funds to support ESL programs at the state level based on the number of limited English-proficient students enrolled.

The (NCLBA) does not dictate a particular method of instruction for teaching English, and it does not outline academic content for these programs. It is up to the district and schools to choose the methods of instruction that best meet the needs of the students, including methods of instructing in another language or in English.

The NCLBA does, however, specify that all states must establish English language proficiency standards and assessment, and all states must provide “high-quality instruction” to English language learners in reading, math, and other academic subjects.

It is up to individual states and districts to ensure they have highly qualified teachers in all classrooms, including classrooms with English language learners. This is usually done through ESL certification, a process through which state-licensed teachers achieve the training required to successfully teach ELLs in a classroom setting.

How to become an esl teacher

You’ve probably seen those ads on Facebook and Instagram that promise you a better life on the other side of the world. They show smiling faces, pristine white beaches, and exotic cultures.

The job is teaching ESL, and the deal seems too good to be true: spend a year teaching adorable little kids how to speak English, and travel to your heart’s content.

But is it really that simple? Is it really so easy?

Let’s look at what you need to know to get started as an ESL teacher.

What is ESL?

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. You might also hear it called EFL (English as a Foreign Language). Basically, it means teaching English to people who speak another language as their mother tongue.

How to become an esl teacherThat’s me when I was a new teacher, many years ago!

ESL is a booming industry. As the world becomes smaller, and as the internet opens up opportunities, more and more people want to learn to speak English. Of course, they need teachers and so there is a high demand around most of the globe for people who can teach.

Do you need to be an expert to teach English? Not really. In fact, you really just need to be able to speak English! It certainly helps to have some qualifications (we’ll come to those later) but for most ESL jobs you just need to be a native English speaker. Any other qualification is a bonus.

What Do You Need to Get Started in ESL?

Every job and every country is different, so you need to look into the individual criteria, but a typical ESL job post will ask for native speakers with university degrees.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a degree in art or science or history; they just want to know that you are educated. This is usually enough to qualify as an “expert” capable of teaching English.

Beyond that, some jobs might require (or at least prefer) you to earn a TEFL certificate, or some other sort of of teaching qualification. A graduate qualification from your home country would be ideal, but there are easier routes to get credentials:

  • TEFL – Teach English as a Foreign Language. This certificate can be completed online or in a special language school. There is no central authority, so some are worth more than others.
  • CELTA – Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults. This can be done in about a month. It is quite intensive and expensive, but opens up lots of opportunities. The next level up is DELTA.

You can read more about qualifications for teaching English, and how to find jobs around the world, in my book, A Beginner’s Guide to ESL:

Where Can You Teach ESL?

People are learning English all over the world. You could probably find a job as a language tutor in your nearest town or city! However, most ESL teachers want to go abroad to teach, so let’s look at where you might choose to go.

Right now, China is the hottest destination. Here you can earn huge salaries and the cost of living is really, really low. Of course, you will be trapped behind the Great Firewall of China and often choked by giant smog banks, but for all the problems, there is also an ancient culture to be uncovered.

South Korea is really popular, too. It used to be the biggest destination for ESL teaching, but the market became a bit saturated in the early 2010s and salaries stagnated. Still, there are loads of opportunities. It’s cleaner and nicer than China, with much better internet.

Colombia is the leader in South America, although wages are pretty low compared to East Asia, and in the Middle East the best place is Saudi Arabia, where you can earn vast sums of money. However, you’d need to be comfortable living on a compound and venturing out in 50 degree heat (that’s Celsius!).

To find out about more destinations, you can pick up a copy of my book. ?

How Do You Actually Teach ESL?

Gosh, that’s a difficult question, and it depends on a million and one factors. Are you teaching adults or kids? What materials do you have?

In most cases, you will have textbooks and materials, and maybe even some co-workers to show you what to do. Hopefully you have done a TEFL or CELTA course before starting, and have some good ideas.

How to become an esl teacherGames help children learn quickly.

The first thing to do (and the most important) is to figure out what you’re going to teach, and make a lesson plan. Think about timing, aims, and materials. Over time, this becomes easier, but in the beginning you will really need to think about the little details and be ready for all possible outcomes.

Often, you can think of a lesson plan like this:

that means show them some language, have them practice with it, and then have them use it

Now, there’s more to it than that, of course. Is this something you will explain, or let the students figure out for themselves? The latter approach is called “guided discovery” and although it seems lazy, it’s actually a really valuable approach. It means letting students explore the rules of language rather than simply telling them. It helps the lesson stick in their head better.

Other things to consider are:

  • how to communicate with students
  • discipline
  • fostering a communicative atmosphere
  • testing

and so much more.

Again, check out my book for more detailed information.

How to become an esl teacher

Hero Images/Getty Images

  • TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London
  • M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music
  • B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music

Becoming an ESL teacher offers a unique multi-cultural opportunity. Job benefits include international travel opportunities, multi-cultural training, and job satisfaction. One of the biggest advantages of getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification is the chance to work abroad while thinking about what you really want to do. Of course, there are some negative aspects—including pay. Here is a guide to what to consider before deciding to become an ESL teacher.

How Much Opportunity?

Before deciding, it’s best to understand the ESL/EFL teaching market. Put simply, there is a lot of demand for English teachers out there.

  • How many people learn English globally?
  • ESL Job Market Demand in the US

Getting up to Speed on the Basics

Getting informed also requires a certain amount of basic understanding about how ESL is taught to see if it’s a right fit. These resources provide information on the general challenges you can expect, as well as standard ESL jargon.

  • ESL/EFL Abbreviations Explained
  • Beginning Guide to Teaching ESL
  • Lesson Plan Format

Specific Teaching Areas

Once you understand the basics of ESL, you’ll also want to consider the main areas you’ll be responsible for teaching. The following articles discuss some of the core issues for grammar, conversation, and listening skills.

  • Conversation Strategies
  • Teaching Grammar in an ESL/EFL Setting
  • Setting ESL Objectives

Choose Your Weapons

Now that you have a basic grasp of what you’ll be teaching, it’s time to learn a little about choosing your teaching materials as you’ll be expected to develop your own lesson plans.

Take a Look at Some Lesson Plans

It’s probably a good idea to take a look at some lesson plans to understand the process of teaching English to speakers of other languages. Lessons provide step-by-step instruction. They are representative of a number of free lesson plans you can find on this site:

  • Vocabulary Lesson Plans
  • Conditional Statements
  • Conversation Lesson: Men and Women, Equal at Last?

There’s More Than One Way to Teach

By now, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of materials to cover and a number of skills to learn. The next step in understanding this profession is to take a look at various ESL EFL teaching methodologies.

  • Standard Curriculum Planning
  • Principled Eclecticism
  • Whole Brain Learning

Pros and Cons

As in any field, it is important to first establish your objectives before working towards meeting your goals. The ESL/EFL field offers different levels of employment, from local classes given by volunteers, to fully accredited university ESL programs. Obviously the opportunities and required education for these different levels vary greatly.

Getting Qualified

If you’ve decided that teaching ESL is for you, then you’ll want to get your teaching qualification. There are different levels, but these resources should help you find something that fits your career objectives. Basically, it boils down to this: if you would like to teach abroad for a few years, you’ll need a TEFL certificate. If you would like to have a career in the profession, you’ll have to get a Master’s Degree.

October 30, 2018 by Rossier Staff

How to become an esl teacher

The number of English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. public schools reached 4.8 million in 2015, up 1 million since 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ page about English Language Learners. As the number of students who speak English as a second language continues to grow, so does the need for teachers and educators who are certified to teach them.

Who Are English Language Learners?

English language learners are students whose first language is not English. More specifically, they’re “students who are unable to communicate fluently or learn effectively in English, who often come from non-English-speaking homes and backgrounds, and who typically require specialized or modified instruction in both the English language and in their academic courses, according to the Glossary of Education Reform. The term ELLs is often used synonymously with bilingual students, English learners (ELs), or limited English proficient (LEP) students.

Who Teaches English Language Learners?

English language learners are taught by ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers who earn their master’s or certification in ESL, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or a related area. Part of the job of ESL teachers is to assess the English language skills of each student and help ensure that the proper instructional supports are provided to help them acquire content while reaching English proficiency. ESL teachers work with students of all ages, but the majority are employed by middle schools and high schools. The job market for ESL educators is expected to steadily grow over the next decade, according to the Glossary of Education Reform.

How to Become an ESL Teacher

The first step to becoming an ESL teacher is to earn a bachelor’s degree and take courses related to ESL certification. In some states, it is helpful to earn a masters to become an ESL teacher. ESL teachers do not need to be fluent in a language other than English but do need to complete the degree and certification requirements of the state in which they wish to teach. There are a number of acronyms associated with ESL teacher certification, which may cause confusion. Below is a breakdown of important acronyms to remember.

TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language

Teaching English as a second language in countries where English is the primary language.

TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Teaching English as a second language in non-English speaking countries.

TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Teaching English to all students whose native language is not English. This is the umbrella category under which TESL and TEFL fall.

Certification requirements to become an ESL teacher vary by region. Check with your local schools for the most up to date requirements.

Careers for ESL Teachers

There are many career paths for teachers with certification to teach English language learners. Many teachers choose to teach ESL in K-12 public schools. Others choose to work internationally teaching English as a foreign language in universities or private language schools. Many foreign governments also hire ESL teachers to teach public school students. Other people tutor English language learners of all ages, independently or with a private company. The publishing industry also hires writers and editors to produce ESL content for educators. If you enjoy leadership and have significant teaching experience, you can work toward running an English language program in a school or international institution.

Resources for ESL Teachers

Here are some resources to support ESL teachers at various stages of certification:

  • TESOL International Association has a directory of degree and certification programs and connects TESOL educators for networking.
  • Lantern Fish offers worksheets, games and activities for ESL teachers working with younger students.
  • ESL Galaxy provides ESL teachers printable flashcards, worksheets and games for elementary school students.
  • Busy Teacher has more than 16,000 printable lesson plans and worksheets for ESL teachers.
  • Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Library offers many listening exercises for ESL students organized by level of difficulty.
  • GoAbroad features articles for those who want to teach English internationally.
  • Teaching Houseadvises how to find an ESL teaching job, with a useful job database.

Because there are multiple paths to becoming an ESL teacher, do your research, connect with online resources and programs, and see if a master’s degree in teaching is the right next step in earning your TESOL certification.

I have asked a handful of ESL teachers why they wanted to be an ESL teacher and many locals ask the teachers why they decided to do so as well. The answers vary, some very practical, some spiritual, some wanderlust– a common thread tends to tie them together.

How to become an esl teacherA lot can be said about being a teacher and a lot more can be said about teaching those who do not speak the same language as you. There are many articles about what it means to be an ESL teacher— you have to take a lot into consideration before doing something like this. But there are very good reasons to give it a try!

Again, everybody has different reasons but I will elaborate on some of my own. Firstly, why be a teacher?

There were three big reasons why I chose to leave my corporate IT job in pursuit of teaching, they are as follows:

This may seem very trivial and many desk jockeys have taken steps to be able to move more freely, but it was a big deal to me. There are many sources that tell us our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is not good for us.

It’s not hard to understand why– I could feel my body stiffening and suffering after long bouts of staying put. Even interspersing the day with small bursts of movement wasn’t enough for me. At the end of the day, I would end up worse off when I tried to exercise by pulling my extremities after eight hours of non-movement.

As a teacher, I not only can, but have, to keep moving in order to help the children in my classroom. I love this aspect of the job and my body thanks me for it!

When I was considering a switch to teaching, I noticed two different types of people: those who thrive on interaction and those who shy away from interaction– they would rather work alone and have their work shine for itself.

I was one of those people who thrived on interaction and being in a pool of those who did not completely suffocated me. As a teacher, your job depends on your interaction with students.

Sometimes, it can be overwhelming how much interaction is needed with students! I love this aspect of teaching– it always keeps me on my toes; talking and interpreting what a student needs to make them thrive.

Surely your work will always have an impact on something or someone indirectly, but teachers have an impact on others instantly. As a teacher, you can immediately tell whether or not a lesson is getting through to a student.

You have a chance to teach the next generation of humans valuable lessons that reach far beyond the typical English lesson. I absolutely adore this part of the job! I always liked to help others and ensure they could find a way to be the best version of themselves that they wanted to be.

I try to allow enough creative freedom in the classroom for my students to explore what this means for them as it applies to my lesson and it’s absolutely amazing to see what they come up with. They end up having a greater impact on me at the end of the day!

As for being an ESL teacher, another world of possibilities and challenges opens up. There were also three reasons on why I chose to teach abroad, and here they are:

I began to notice that I flourished when my work presented me with change– it was a challenge for me that I wanted to creatively explore. Without change and learning from the challenge, I grew bored and stagnant.

While it’s true there can be a lot of change and challenges with any career you pursue, there is a unique challenge that comes with living abroad. There are always new things popping up and trying to overcome these challenges is always a fresh adventure. I’m constantly learning new things and I could not appreciate this more!

Of course, culture is going to be a huge allure for most! Being able to truly immerse yourself in a culture so strikingly different from your own is incredible.

It is even better when the culture can be presented to you from the students you teach– you get to experience brand new holidays as if you were a kid again!

Explore totally new roads, shops, restaurants, ideas, people, language– well, the list goes on and on. For some, stability in having a schedule, having the same routines and knowing exactly what’s coming next is top priority. Others, like me, need to have some surprises!

There will be good days, there will be bad days, there will be days where nothing exciting happens at all. They vary with surprising increments, however, as every day is something different.

At the end of the day, however, you will always have that knowledge that you are going to bed, waking up, eating, and living in a totally different world from where you came from. It’s incredible– it’s a challenge, accomplishment, and reward all at the same time.

There have been days I stare out the window of the bus and see the mandarin written on a sign and it reminds me just how far away I am and how far I’ve come. It’s an incredible feeling, believe me!

I hope this gives you a couple ideas about why you might want to become an ESL teacher rather than viewing it as a means to an end. If you are on the fence about doing something this radical or taking a chance with anything else, always remember this quote by Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

How to become an esl teacherMichaela left her small town in the flat cornfields of Iowa in April of 2015 to explore the world before becoming condemned to a desk in an IT corporation. She has been teaching at Hess International English school in Taipei,Taiwan and shopping, hiking, and eating her way through the foreign streets. She has traveled alone and encountered many interesting experiences and hopes to aid others traveling alone as well.

October 30, 2018 by Rossier Staff

How to become an esl teacher

The number of English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. public schools reached 4.8 million in 2015, up 1 million since 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ page about English Language Learners. As the number of students who speak English as a second language continues to grow, so does the need for teachers and educators who are certified to teach them.

Who Are English Language Learners?

English language learners are students whose first language is not English. More specifically, they’re “students who are unable to communicate fluently or learn effectively in English, who often come from non-English-speaking homes and backgrounds, and who typically require specialized or modified instruction in both the English language and in their academic courses, according to the Glossary of Education Reform. The term ELLs is often used synonymously with bilingual students, English learners (ELs), or limited English proficient (LEP) students.

Who Teaches English Language Learners?

English language learners are taught by ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers who earn their master’s or certification in ESL, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or a related area. Part of the job of ESL teachers is to assess the English language skills of each student and help ensure that the proper instructional supports are provided to help them acquire content while reaching English proficiency. ESL teachers work with students of all ages, but the majority are employed by middle schools and high schools. The job market for ESL educators is expected to steadily grow over the next decade, according to the Glossary of Education Reform.

How to Become an ESL Teacher

The first step to becoming an ESL teacher is to earn a bachelor’s degree and take courses related to ESL certification. In some states, it is helpful to earn a masters to become an ESL teacher. ESL teachers do not need to be fluent in a language other than English but do need to complete the degree and certification requirements of the state in which they wish to teach. There are a number of acronyms associated with ESL teacher certification, which may cause confusion. Below is a breakdown of important acronyms to remember.

TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language

Teaching English as a second language in countries where English is the primary language.

TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Teaching English as a second language in non-English speaking countries.

TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Teaching English to all students whose native language is not English. This is the umbrella category under which TESL and TEFL fall.

Certification requirements to become an ESL teacher vary by region. Check with your local schools for the most up to date requirements.

Careers for ESL Teachers

There are many career paths for teachers with certification to teach English language learners. Many teachers choose to teach ESL in K-12 public schools. Others choose to work internationally teaching English as a foreign language in universities or private language schools. Many foreign governments also hire ESL teachers to teach public school students. Other people tutor English language learners of all ages, independently or with a private company. The publishing industry also hires writers and editors to produce ESL content for educators. If you enjoy leadership and have significant teaching experience, you can work toward running an English language program in a school or international institution.

Resources for ESL Teachers

Here are some resources to support ESL teachers at various stages of certification:

  • TESOL International Association has a directory of degree and certification programs and connects TESOL educators for networking.
  • Lantern Fish offers worksheets, games and activities for ESL teachers working with younger students.
  • ESL Galaxy provides ESL teachers printable flashcards, worksheets and games for elementary school students.
  • Busy Teacher has more than 16,000 printable lesson plans and worksheets for ESL teachers.
  • Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Library offers many listening exercises for ESL students organized by level of difficulty.
  • GoAbroad features articles for those who want to teach English internationally.
  • Teaching Houseadvises how to find an ESL teaching job, with a useful job database.

Because there are multiple paths to becoming an ESL teacher, do your research, connect with online resources and programs, and see if a master’s degree in teaching is the right next step in earning your TESOL certification.

How to become an esl teacher

How to Be a Successful ESL Teacher

Congratulations! You’ve chosen to become an ESL teacher, and it’s one of the most rewarding professions around. Yet, you must be warned – though tremendously satisfying on a personal level, it may not be as financially rewarding as other careers.

Success, for an ESL teacher, is not determined by how much you make a year – the gains are not precisely material in nature. So what is success for an ESL teacher? And what makes an ESL teacher more successful than others?

What is success for an ESL teacher?

In my opinion, a successful ESL teacher is one that is able to make a good living doing what he or she enjoys doing or does best: teach English as a second language. The phrase “make a good living” cannot be emphasized enough. No, ESL teachers don’t buy luxury cars or live in expensive penthouses, but we can most certainly make enough to not only pay the bills and buy groceries, but also go somewhere nice at the end of the school year. ESL teacher salaries vary greatly from country to country, and there are some excellent opportunities abroad. But no matter how much you are paid or where you teach, there are things that will help you get more or better teaching gigs, and have greater success at teaching English as a second language.

The Recipe for Success

Be Different

Memorable ESL teachers are often successful teachers. They usually obtain more classes or private students through word of mouth and recommendations from former students. So how do you become memorable? You are memorable when you’re different and unlike any other teacher a student has had before. And how do you accomplish that? If you let your inner personality shine through, you will be different – guaranteed. Don’t be a robot that spews lists of verbs and explanations on when to use each tense. Be yourself and let your students get to know you and what makes you different from other teachers.

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Mission

We’ve already established that as a teacher you’re not out to make loads of money…so, what is your mission as an ESL teacher? To help your students achieve their language learning goals, whether it is to speak, write or understand English better. Don’t lose sight of this, and you will help them succeed, which in turn will make you successful as well.

Be Helpful

Successful teachers go above and beyond their expected tasks. They recommend materials for extra practice. They provide information students request. They do research on an examination a student might want to take. Does this take up more of your time? Of course it does! But your students’ deepest appreciation is absolutely priceless.

Deliver Results

Successful ESL teachers deliver results that can be easily seen and measured by students, and not just by means of exam grades. Always review with your students the goals they have achieved in the semester and at the end of the year. More than a number on a test, they need to see exactly what they learned and compare it to what they didn’t know in the past.

Exceed Expectations

More than just meeting goals, a truly successful teacher exceeds students’ expectations. You can tell students they will be able to handle basic social situations by the end of the course, but what if they are also ready for a job interview in English?

Be Passionate

Successful ESL teachers teach everything with passion, even things that are less than interesting like Reported Speech or the Subjunctive Mood. Passion is contagious when transmitted properly, and passionate students learn more.

Be Generous

Did you find a really cool website, game or worksheet that you know your students will love? Successful ESL teachers don’t keep useful tools to themselves. They share it with other teachers, so that they, and their students, can reap the benefits or have fun, too.

Know When to Take Responsibility

Are your lessons boring? You are responsible for making them engaging. Are your students unclear about what they have learned or achieved? You are responsible for communicating this clearly.

But on the other hand, successful teachers must also know when it is the students’ turn to take responsibility. Why did your student fail the class? Is it because you neglected to provide the right support and guidance, or because he or she never did any homework and showed zero interest during class?

Get Training

Successful ESL teachers make sure they obtain the necessary training, TEFL or TESOL certification. Any native English speaker can teach English, but you will not be a successful teacher unless you receive proper training.

Empower Your Students

Successful ESL teachers don’t coddle their students. They don’t translate words into students’ native language. They don’t finish sentences for them. They don’t complete their homework exercises for them. And they don’t tell them how to do all of these things. They show them how to do it and provide the necessary tools.

Earlier I mentioned that what ESL teachers obtain is not material gain. What do we gain, then? Simply put, we gain personal satisfaction at a job well done, but also learn a great deal from students.

For us, success is not measured by how much we’ve gained, but by how much we’ve given.

The more we give, the more our students succeed at learning English. The more our students succeed, the more successful we become as ESL teachers.

Agree? Disagree? Agree to disagree? Sound off in the comments below!

We deliver a rich and interactive curriculum that WILL prepare you for your state exams all from the comfort of your home, office, or really your nearest internet access point, and on your schedule.

Resources > How Do I Get ESL Certified in Texas?

How to become an esl teacher

ESL certification is in high demand in Texas. Huge numbers of English language learners in the state, along with recent certification requirement changes by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), will only continue to drive the need for teachers qualified to teach English as a second language.

By becoming ESL certified in Texas, aspiring teachers can more easily pursue their dream career and fill a pressing need within the state. Here is what you need to know about ESL certification in Texas, and how Teacher Builder can help.

ESL certification in Texas: A growing need

Two factors are driving the need for ESL teachers in Texas. Here is a brief look at both.

English learners

With 1 million English learners representing 18 percent of students in the state, Texas has the highest percentage of English learners in the country. These numbers continue to rise within Texas, representing a pressing need for qualified teachers to support their language learning, particularly in the 13 school districts that have more than 15,000 English learners each.

ESL certification requirement changes

In order to ensure that these English learners receive high quality education and language learning support, the Texas Education Agency recently changed the requirements for ESL certification. These changes broadened the circumstances under which schools needed to provide an ESL-certified teacher for classrooms containing English learners. As a result, school districts require more ESL-certified teachers and often prefer an ESL-certified teacher over one who is not.

In light of these trends, ESL certification is a path worth pursuing for many individuals who are preparing to teach in Texas.

Do all Texas teachers have to be ESL certified?

According to TEA, the certification requirements do not mean that all teachers must possess ESL certification. Instead, they apply only to teachers who work within an ESL program approved by the state.

The expansion of ESL certification requirements beginning in 2018 has led some to wonder whether all teachers must now possess ESL certification in order to work in Texas.

If you want, you can therefore look for school districts that do not require ESL certification in Houston, Texas, or elsewhere.

However, the new requirements do increase the need for ESL-certified teachers within school districts, making certification an extremely desirable quality of teaching candidates and expanding their ability to work across programs, classrooms, and schools. Aspiring teachers would be wise to consider adding ESL certification to their career preparations.

What is ESL certification in Texas and how does an aspiring teacher obtain it?

Certification consists of completing TESOL education requirements and passing a supplemental exam in addition to your content (PPR) exam.

What follows is a look at the basic process aspiring teachers should follow to earn their teaching certification, with the addition of an ESL certification.

1. Fulfill TESOL requirements

All aspiring teachers in Texas must complete a bachelor’s degree. In addition, they must complete a teacher education program, either as part of their bachelor degree program or as part of an alternative teacher certification program.

Individuals who wish to become ESL certified must also complete what are called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) education requirements.

Education courses in TESOL are typically part of an educator preparation course and take the form of a separate degree or certification in addition to your bachelor degree.

Expect to address some of the following topics in your TESOL courses:

  • Cultural diversity
  • Linguistics
  • Pedagogy of learning English
  • ESL student teaching
  • Crafting an ESL curriculum

There are a number of avenues you can pursue to complete your TESOL requirements:

  • As part of an educator preparation program taken as part of your 4-year bachelor degree program at a university or college
  • As part of an alternative teacher certification program like Teacher Builder
  • As a separate graduate certification course for teachers who already hold teaching degrees and who wish to add ESL certification to their qualifications.

2. Complete basic skills and PPR exams

Once you have your bachelor degree and have completed your TESOL courses, you will need to take the following tests to receive your teaching certification:

  • Basic Skills Test
  • PPR Exam for early childhood (EC) through 12th grade

These tests will demonstrate your competencies in foundational subjects like reading and math and your basic competencies as a teacher. All aspiring teachers in Texas must pass these exams to earn certification.

3. Take the supplemental ESL test

In order to earn your ESL certification for Texas, you will need to take an additional ESL exam that corresponds to the grade level you plan to teach. They are as follows:

  • ESL Exam 193 for EC through grade 6
  • ESL Exam 120 for grades 4-8
  • ESL Exam 154 for grades 9-12 or to add ESL certification to an existing teaching certification

4. Apply for your teaching certification

Once you have passed the required exams, you can apply for your ESL teaching certification. If you are a first-time teacher, you will complete this application as part of your application for your teaching license. This process will include submitting transcripts and test scores and submitting to fingerprinting and a background check.

Prepare through Teacher Builder

If you choose to pursue ESL certification, you will need to pursue a TESOL program as part of your educator preparation course. There is no better place to prepare for your ESL teaching certification than Teacher Builder.

Our full online alternative teacher certification program allows you to study in any of more than 25 areas, including ESL. Fulfill your TESOL, and teaching certification, requirements anytime and anywhere, with a curriculum that is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Easy, efficient, and flexible, Teacher Builder puts ESL certification at your fingertips. Pursue your dream teaching career today and prepare for one of the thousands of teaching jobs available in Texas every year with a program that allows you to study at your pace and supports you through your first year of teaching.

Call Teacher Builder today to learn more about how our accredited online program can equip you to teach ESL in Texas.