According to the District of Columbia Public Schools, the school district currently serves more than 4,200 English Language Learners (ELLs). These students hail from 133 different nations and speak 107 various languages, the five most common being Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, French and Amharic. These statistics point to the need for more English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers in DC.
The District of Columbia licenses teachers and qualifies them in the ESL Endorsement. In order to become an ESL teacher in Washington, DC you will need to complete these four steps:
|Complete a Bachelor Degree and Teacher Preparation Program|
|Pass Basic and Content Matter Tests|
|Apply for Your District of Columbia Teaching License and ESOL Endorsement|
|Maintain and Upgrade Your District of Columbia Teaching License|
Step 1. Complete a District of Columbia ESL Teaching Degree Program and Teacher Preparation Program
You must earn a bachelor’s degree at minimum to become an ESL teacher in the District of Columbia.
The only way in which you are permitted to teach ESL in DC is to obtain a Regular II license.
If you want to apply for a Regular II teacher license in DC, which is valid for four years and is renewable, you must complete the state-approved teacher program, OR complete the coursework outlined by the DC Municipal regulations, and pass the Praxis I basic exam and Praxis II pedagogy exam. Consult the District of Columbia Directory of Pre-Approved Programs to find a qualifying ESL teacher preparation program.
If you choose the teacher licensure route in the District of Columbia in which you complete an approved teacher preparation program, student teaching will be incorporated into your program. This is a great opportunity for you to experience teaching in the classroom, and to query your teacher mentor about any questions you may have. The length of time you spend in student teaching will vary depending upon your program’s requirements.
Alternatively, 30 semester hours of coursework in the ESL subject area may be completed in lieu of completing the approved teacher preparation program and passing the Praxis II content area exam. This coursework includes:
- At least six semester hours of the historical, philosophical, sociological and educational basis of the education of students of a language minority, including :
- Theory and Practice of English as a Second Language
- Foundations of English as a Second Language Education
- At least six semester hours of linguistics and how it relates to cognitive development, including:
- Introduction to Linguistics
- Introduction to Psycholinguistics OR Second Language Acquisition
- At least three semester hours in developmental literacy, reading for students of a language minority and reading readiness
- At least three semester hours in bilingual assessment instruments used with linguistically diverse students of a language minority
- At least three semester hours of principles of cross-cultural communication and differences in learning styles of students of a language minority, OR 45 hours/ one year of formal travel study or living abroad
- Competencies, which will be determined by the Language Minority Affairs Branch, must be displayed in:
- Language of specialty other than English
Step 2. Pass the Tests Required of ESL Teachers in DC
Educational Testing Service (ETS) provides the basic and specialized testing that aspiring ESL teachers in the District of Columbia must pass.
All District of Columbia ESL teachers must first pass these three Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPST):
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education will accept the following test score combinations in lieu of the three Praxis I examinations:
- Option 1: You received a score of 20 on the ACT Composite AND 171 on the PPST Writing or 316 on the CBT Writing, or a score of 3.5 on the GRE Writing test
- Option 2: You scored 960 combined on the SAT verbal and math AND 171 on the PPST Writing or 316 on the CBT writing or 3.5 on the GRE writing test
- Option 3: Before 2005, you scored 850 combined on the SAT verbal and math AND 171 on the PPST Writing or 316 on the CBT writing or 3.5 on the GRE writing test
- Option 4: You scored 288 combined on the GRE verbal and quantitative AND 171 on the PPST Writing or 316 on the CBT writing or 3.5 on the GRE writing test
- Option 5: Before 2012, you scored 870 on the GRE verbal and quantitative AND 171 on the PPST Writing or 316 on the CBT writing or 3.5 on the GRE writing test
Subject Matter Testing
Under District of Columbia rules, to receive an ESL endorsement, you must pass the Praxis II exam in English to Speakers of Other Languages. A score of 141 or higher is required.
It is mandatory that all ESL teachers in DC pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching Exam (PLT) that corresponds to the grade level(s) you intend to teach: K-6, 5-9 or 7-12 before the District of Columbia will endorse you to teach ESL.
(If you did not complete a teacher preparation program, and opted for the 30 semester hours of coursework as outlined in Step 1 above, you need not pass the Praxis II ESL content exam. You must still, however, pass the Praxis II PLT exam)
Step 3. Apply for Your District of Columbia Teaching License and ESL Endorsement
If you have fulfilled the above requirements, you are ready to apply for your Regular II License in the District of Columbia.
You must also have an Approved Program Verification Form on file with the DC OSSE. The licensure officer at your program should have sent that to the DC OSSE office already. Additionally, you must complete a nationwide criminal history report. Instructions for doing so are available here.
If you are currently employed as a teacher, you need to complete the Educational Employment Verification Form.
It can take up to 12 weeks for the Office of Educator Licensure and Accreditation to review your application. When completed, you will be issued a Regular II Teacher License in DC.
Only if you have a Regular II license may you apply for Endorsement in ESL. Complete the Application for Added Teaching Endorsements. You will be instructed if you need to complete the Employment Verification Form and a nationwide criminal history report. Once received, your application and information will be logged into the DC OSSE system, where a specialist will review it. This may take up to eight weeks. You will be issued an ESL Endorsement if your information meets the necessary criteria.
Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your District of Columbia Teaching License and ESL Endorsement
If you are an active ESL teacher in the District of Columbia, you now hold a Regular II teaching license. This license renews every four years, using the Application for Licensure Renewal. During that time, you must complete six semester hours of 90 contact hours (or a mixture of the two) of professional development activities. Three semester hours or 45 clock hours must be directly related to ESL. The remaining semester/clock hours may be in any professional development activity for general education of K-12 students.
Acceptable professional development activities for renewal include:
- Courses taken at an accredited institution
- Seminars, workshops or conferences sponsored by a local school district, educational agency or professional/education organization (examples include the American Federation of Teachers, Washington Teachers Union, National Staff Development Council, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) International, and International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL).
Remember to document all of your activities, including your name, the name of the organization sponsoring the activity, name of the activity, length of time of the activity (contact hours, credit hours etc) and dates you participated in the activity.
Your ESL endorsement never expires as long as you keep your Regular II teaching license up-to-date.
You might want to consider getting a graduate degree in education and/or ESL. Many institutions offer such degrees, and they can help you to advance in your career and salary. Examples include:
- Master of Education
- Master of Arts – specialization in ELL/ESL
- Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
- Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction – specialization in TESOL