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While Illinois boasts many notable universities and colleges that specialize in linguistics, education, and teacher preparation, only a select few offer TESOL, ESL, or Applied Linguistics at the graduate level. For a complete list of these programs, consult the resource section administered by the Illinois Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages – Bilingual Education (ITBE). In addition, some Illinois universities now offer blended learning that combines online and in-class courses, as well as online-only certificates, endorsements, and graduate degrees.
ESL Teacher Certification
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) oversees all policies regarding licensure. ISBE’s Educator Licensure document states that the state issues the following types of teaching licenses:
- Early Childhood
- Special (Subject specific, K-12)
- Special Education Special Certificate
To earn the English as a Second Language Endorsement, teachers must have the following, as of 2013:
- A Professional Certificate valid for teaching K-12 in Illinois.
- Experience including three months of full-time teaching in ESL classrooms or 100 clock hours of ESL teaching.
- Coursework including 18 semester hour credits in each of the following – linguistics, theoretical foundations of teaching ESL, bilingual student assessment, curriculum and instruction of ESL students, and cross-cultural studies in teaching LEP students.
Middle school teachers must also complete:
- 3 semester hours of coursework on teaching the middle grades, including reading instruction
- 3 semester hours of coursework in educational psychology of young adolescents
Alternative Certification Options
The ISBE’s guide to Educator Licensure indicates that candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university and relevant work experience to pursue alternative certification. There are two nontraditional routes toward licensure:
Master’s in ESL Programs
The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has placed seven Illinois institutions on its Honor Roll of teacher preparation programs, but only one of these programs offers TESOL education at the graduate level: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. This noteworthy department publishes three journals, including Papers on Language & Literature: A Journal for Scholars and Critics of Language and Literature. The department has also endeavored to diversity its student body by encouraging international students in its programs and supporting student and faculty exchanges with institutions abroad. They offer a The Master’s Specialization in TESL. The department also offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in TESL, but this does not award a master’s degree.