Arizona ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

If you want to become an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Arizona at any of these levels, review these five steps:

Complete an Approved Teacher Preparation Program
Successfully Complete NES Examinations
Apply for an Initial Teaching Certification
Earn an SEI, ESL or BLE Endorsement
Apply for and Maintain a Standard Teacher Certification

The Office of English Language Acquisition Services (OELAS) provides guidance, support, and assistance to all of Arizona’s school districts and charter schools. The OELAS is also responsible for the educational needs of Arizona’s English Language Learners (ELLs) by developing guidelines for monitoring schools to ensure compliance with all federal and state laws regarding ELLs.

The Arizona Board of Education, due to the large immigration population in many parts of the state, now requires all elementary educators in a Structured English Immersion (SEI) setting to achieve one of three endorsements:

  • Structured English Immersion (SEI) endorsement
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement
  • Bilingual Language endorsement (BLE)

The Board also requires all educators in middle and high school SEI classrooms to be highly qualified in language arts or English and to achieve endorsement in SEI, ESL, or BLE.

 


 

Step 1. Complete an Approved Teacher Preparation Program

To qualify as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Arizona, you must earn, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. This must include a teacher preparation program that has been approved by the Arizona State Board of Education.

Among Arizona’s State Board approved teacher preparation programs, there is one bachelor’s degree in elementary education: Bilingual Education/English as a Second Language. You may choose to complete this teacher preparation program or a program in elementary education to qualify for elementary ESL licensure.

If you want to become an ESL teacher at the secondary level, you must complete a teacher preparation program in language arts or English.

You may also qualify for licensure as an ESL teacher in Arizona by completing Arizona State Board of Education’s Alternative Pathways to Teacher Certification Program. You may qualify for this program if you have recently graduated from college with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or if you have career experience in English as a Second Language. If you qualify for the Alternative Path to Certification program, you will complete all necessary pedagogy and educational requirements while teaching with a teaching intern certificate. More information on this alternative certificate program can be found here.

 


 

Step 2. Successfully Complete NES Examinations

If you want to become an ESL teacher in Arizona, you must complete specific National Evaluation Series (NES) Professional Knowledge Exams:

If you want to teach ESL at the elementary level, you must take and pass:

If you want to teach ESL at the secondary level, you must take and pass:

The framework of the Middle Grades English Language Arts NES exam includes the following topics (and their percentage of the exam):

  • Reading Process and Comprehension and Reading in Multiple Subject Areas: 21 percent
  • Reading Various Text Forms and Analyzing and Interpreting Literature: 29 percent
  • English Language Conventions, Composition, Writing Process, and Research: 15 percent
  • Modes of Writing: 21 percent
  • Oral and Visual Communication: 14 percent

The framework of the English Language Arts NES exam includes the following topics (and their percentage of the exam):

  • Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, and Reading Various Text Forms: 23 percent
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Literature: 23 percent
  • English Language Conventions, Composition, Writing Process, and Research: 19 percent
  • Modes of Writing: 23 percent
  • Oral and Visual Communication: 12 percent

You can view testing information and examination content and register to take the tests on the NES website.

 


 

Step 3. Apply for an Initial Teaching Certification

Once you have completed all necessary requirements for certification as an educator in Arizona, you must apply for initial certification by completing the Application for Certification.

Submit it along with the application fee of $60 (made payable to the Arizona Department of Education) and an Arizona Identity Fingerprint Clearance card (obtain one by contacting DPS at 602-223-2279), to the Arizona Department of Education.

 


 

Step 4. Earn an SEI, ESL or BLE Endorsement

All educators in Structured English Immersion classrooms must hold a valid endorsement, which may include one or more of the following:

SEI Endorsement

To work as an ESL educator in a Structured English Immersion (SEI) classroom, you must, at a minimum, complete an approved SEI program and become endorsed in SEI. You do not, however, need to complete this SEI requirement if you have completed the appropriate SEI courses in your teacher preparation program.

You can view approved SEI courses here, which may be obtained through independent trainers and educational service agencies, local education agencies (LEAs), or institutes of higher learning.

You may view the Provisional Structured English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement framework, which totals 45 hours, here. You may view the Full Structured English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement framework, which totals 45 hours, here.

Additional information on SEI endorsement, including application instructions, can be found here.

ESL and BLE Endorsements

Educators who desire to teach in SEI classrooms may also choose to pursue an English as a Second Language (ESL) or Bilingual (BLE) endorsement. If you choose to pursue an ESL or BLE endorsement, you are exempt from the SEI endorsement requirement.

Endorsement applications for both ESL and BLE endorsement can be found here.

To qualify for BLE endorsement, you must show proof of the completion of the following:

    • Completion of a bilingual education program from an accredited institution; OR
    • Completion of the following courses:
      • Foundations of instruction for non-English-language-background students
      • Bilingual methods
      • English as a second language for bilingual settings
      • Courses in bilingual materials and curriculum; assessment of limited-English-proficient students; teaching and reading in a native language; or English as a second language for bilingual settings
      • Linguistics
      • Courses dealing with school, community, and family culture and parental involvement in programs of instruction for non-English-language-background students; AND

 

  • A practicum in a bilingual program or at least two years of verified full-time teaching experience; AND
  • Verification of proficiency in a spoken language other than English.

To qualify for ESL endorsement, you must show proof of the completion of:

    • Completion of an ESL education program from an accredited institution; OR
    • The completion of the following courses:
      • Courses in foundations of instruction for non-English-language-background students
      • ESL methods
      • Teaching of reading and writing to limited-English-proficient students
      • Assessment of limited-English-proficient students
      • Linguistics
      • Courses dealing with school, community, and family culture and parental involvement in programs of instruction for non-English-language background students; AND

 

  • 3 semester hours of practicum or at least two years of verified, full-time ESL or bilingual teaching experience; AND
  • A second language learning experience

 


 

Step 5. Apply for and Maintain a Standard Teacher Certification

Upon the expiration of your initial teaching certificate, which is valid for three years, you may either apply for an extension or apply for a standard teaching certificate in Arizona.

To qualify for the standard teaching certification in Arizona, you must show proof of the completion of at least three years of full-time teaching experience.

To maintain your standard teacher certificate, you must renew it every six years by completing the Renewal of Certificate and providing proof of the completion of at least 180 clock hours of professional development activities; at least 12 semester hours of education coursework; or a combination of the two.


Arizona ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives

According to the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, Arizona was home to nearly six million residents with limited English proficiency in 2010. This represented an increase of nearly 1.1 million over a ten-year period. More than 80% of these new residents spoke Spanish as their first language, while native speakers of Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabic rounded out the top five.

Of note is the fact that not all non-native English speakers in Arizona fare new emigrants to the United States. In fact, nearly four percent were Native Americans whose primary language was Navajo.

There is currently a shortage of TESOL (teachers of English to speakers of other languages) educators in Arizona. According to the Arizona Department of education, an ESL (English as a second language) teacher in Arizona can expect to earn $56,310 on average. If a teacher already certified in a traditional content area receives an ESL endorsement after several years of work experience, their salary can be expected to be around $63,490.

ESL teacher salaries vary depending on the area in which they are employed:

Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale

  • Average: $ 43,650
  • Entry: $ 32,740
  • Experienced: $ 58,450
  • Median: $ 42,650

Tucson

  • Average: $ 39,930
  • Entry: $ 29,920
  • Experienced: $ 54,540
  • Median: $ 37,910

The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes adult ESL educators within the Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers classification. The table below shows the 2013 salary data for these teachers in cities across Arizona.

Area name
Employment
Annual Median Salary
Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale AZ
240
52040
Tucson AZ
60
43080

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