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What is ESL? – English as a Second Language describes public school and independent programs designed to teach English to speakers of other languages. ESL programs are taught by specialists who have passed tests such as the TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and mastered the art of teaching vocabulary, sounds, and grammar to English language learners.
Non-native English speakers who have made their home in the United States are a huge part of our national identity. People from nearly every country in the world are represented here. In fact, the U.S. is home to more immigrants than anywhere else in the world. The 43.2 million non-native English speakers here represent more than 13% of the population, while just two generations ago this group made up only 4.7%.
When it comes to accessing the American dream, nothing is more powerful than knowing how to speak, read, and write the English language… and no one is more instrumental in helping non-native speakers get there than master’s-prepared ESL teachers.
Each state board of education has distinct requirements for becoming an ESL teacher, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules in your state. We’ve collected this information here, so you can quickly review your state’s requirements for initial ESL teacher certification, alternative paths to initial licensure, and secondary endorsement options in ESL. We’ve also highlighted the ESL master’s degree programs available in your state, both on-campus and online, so you can easily review your options.
- District Of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
A Master’s in ESL is the Ideal Graduate Degree for Almost Any Teacher
Most TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) educators are found in public schools, either at the elementary or secondary level, and hold a state certificate through their state board of education. This means completing an approved teacher preparation program in TESOL at the undergraduate or graduate level and then earning a primary content area endorsement to teach ESL.
In some states, a primary content area endorsement in ESL is not available, in which case, you would start by earning a state license to teach at the elementary or secondary level with a primary endorsement in a content area like English or language arts, and then go on to achieve an additional endorsement in ESL.
It is common for licensed teachers in any content area, from English to Math, to earn a master’s degree in ESL as a way to add an ESL endorsement to their primary content area endorsement. This would involve completing a stand-alone post-bachelor certificate, graduate certificate, or master’s in ESL. If you elect for a graduate certificate, you can apply those credits toward completing a master’s degree in ESL later on.
Even beyond traditional K-12 classrooms, ESL teachers are found working in roles and settings that include …
- Teachers/administrators in domestic and international language centers
- ESL teachers in colleges and universities, both domestically and internationally
- ESL program directors and administrators
- Consultants to governmental agencies
- Educators in private ESL schools and language centers
- Editors and developers of English language education materials
- Curriculum specialists