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Trends reported by the Migration Policy Institute show that, in the 2007-2008 academic year, Alaska had 17,513 students enrolled in ELL programs, comprising 13.4 percent of the general student population. While these numbers are significant, they actually represent an overall decrease of 20 percent from 1998. After English, the most common home languages spoken in Alaska are Aleut-Eskimo languages, Spanish, Hmong, Tagalog, and Russian.
How to Become an Alaska ESL Educator
The Alaska Department of Education & Early Development (EED) maintains a file on the Addition or Removal of Endorsements. Its guidelines state that only teachers holding valid 5-Year Certificates can earn the ESOL certification. The methods for obtaining this endorsement include the following:
- Institutional Recommendation
- Posted Degree, Major, or Minor
- Praxis II Scores
Some universities in Alaska offer a series of TESOL classes that can result in sufficient units for an institutional recommendation.
Career Potential for Alaska TESOL Educators
According to the information in the Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing, gathered by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, the state has never reported a shortage of ESL educators nor a need for teachers in related areas such as reading, literacy, English, or language arts.
However, the Alaska Teacher Placement website has a different perspective on this issue, mentioning that only one third of the state’s needs for classroom teachers are filled by in-state candidates. For the remaining 66 percent, the school districts must recruit in the “lower 48.” Note, however, that the highest turnover rates for teachers are in Alaska’s more remote and rural areas in the interior, while the urban areas have the lowest turnover. It is also challenging to pay for Alaska’s high cost of housing and basic living expenses on a beginning teacher’s salary, though Alaska’s salaries are higher than the national average.
Finding Your TESOL Job in Alaska
- Alaska’s Teacher Placement Job Bank lists job openings, advertises state job fairs, and hosts live chats about topics including certification and job-hunting.
- The Alaska Public Schools Database, administered by Alaska EED, is a searchable list of Alaska’s public school districts, also sortable by city.
- Alaska EED maintains a list of the state’s Charter Schools with hyperlinks to their Web pages.
TESOL Professional Groups and Resources in Alaska
- Professionals in Alaska Native language education, language immersion programs, TESOL, and bilingual teaching comprise the membership of the Alaska Association for Bilingual Educators (AKABE).
- Housed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Alaska Native Language Center focuses on projects and services that document and promote the 20 Native languages spoken in the state.
- Project LEAP (Language Equity and Academic Performance) began in 2013 as a University of Alaska Anchorage program. It funds teacher training in TESOL that can also be the beginning coursework for a graduate degree.
- EED maintains a Web page for its programs and policies concerning Bilingual Multicultural Education as well as its Title IC: Migrant Education Program.