The steps to become an ESOL teacher in Florida are:
|Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in ESOL Along with an Educator Preparation Program|
|Pass the Exams Required of ESOL Teachers in Florida|
|Apply for Your Florida Teaching Certificate|
|Maintain and Upgrade Your Florida Teaching Certificate|
According to the organization Sunshine State TESOL of Florida (SSTESOL),the state has the third largest population of English language learners (ELL) in the country. By law, Florida teachers are required to complete English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) training if they have at least one ELL student in their classroom.
Florida recognizes two types of ESOL teachers:
- ESOL certified teachers, who teach in the ESOL subject area
- Teachers with ESOL endorsements, who are certified in another area but have completed training in ESOL
Step 1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in ESOL Along with an Educator Preparation Program
The State of Florida has three options for those who want to become an ESOL teacher:
Option 1– ESOL Certification Degree Program
Graduate from a Florida-approved teacher preparation program and complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with a major in English to Speakers of Other Languages. This program will include a field-based experience.
This will result in you becoming a Florida ESOL K-12 certified teacher.
Option 2- Full ESOL Endorsement Program
Complete a bachelor’s degree program and 15 semester hours (five courses) or (300 in-service hours) in the ESOL subject area (these courses must be completed in addition to your degree’s requirements and must be approved by the Florida Department of Education Bureau of Educator Certification in a course-by-course analysis):
- Testing and Evaluation of ESOL
- Applied Linguistics
- Cross-Cultural Communication and Understanding
- ESOL Curriculum and Materials Development
- Methods of Teaching ESOL
This option is often the choice of those who are already teachers in Florida certified in another subject (usually Special Education, English, or Elementary teachers, all of whom teach Language Arts). They will usually choose the 300 in-service hours, which must include 60 in-service hours in each of the five above named areas.
This results in you becoming a Florida teacher (certified in another subject area) with an ESOL endorsement.
Option 3- ESOL Infused Program
Complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree program for another certification coverage (from a Florida approved teacher preparation program) in a state approved certification area (see this list) with ESOL infusion. This results in you becoming a Florida certified teacher in another area with an ESOL endorsement.
- You will receive an ESOL endorsement to a teaching certificate with an initial coverage such as Elementary Education, Pre-Kindergarten/Primary Education, Middle Grades English (5-9)English (6-12), Exceptional Student Education, Reading/ESOL or Foreign Language.
- You must satisfy the content standards and competencies for both your major degree area and the ESOL endorsement
- You must take at least two stand-alone courses specifically in ESOL. The curriculum must cover all five areas listed in Option 2.
- ESOL requirements are embedded into the program’s full subject area coverage, and the program must be approved by the Florida Department of Education Bureau of Educator Recruitment Development and Retention Program Approval Office
- This program will include a field-based experience
Step 2. Pass the Exams Required of ESOL Teachers in Florida
Florida has its own testing system for aspiring teachers.
The Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) General Knowledge (GK) test will assess your basic skills with regard to reading, English language and essay writing, and mathematics. All aspiring teachers in Florida must pass this exam.
You must also pass the FTCE Professional Education Test, which assesses your knowledge of professional education practices and pedagogy.
Subject Matter Testing
If you completed Option 2 or 3 above, you will NOT be required to pass the FTCE ESOL K-12 ESOL Subject Area Examination. This examination is not required for endorsements.
Otherwise, if you are seeking certification in ESOL, you must pass the FTCE ESOL K-12 ESOL Subject Area Examination.
Step 3. Apply for Your Florida Teaching Certificate
If you have completed the steps above, you are ready to apply for your Florida teaching certificate.
- If you are a graduate of a state- approved teacher preparation program, have a major in ESOL, and are seeking ESOL certification, you are an Initial Applicant. Go here to begin the application process.
- If you are a graduate of a state- approved teacher preparation program, have a major in any other subject area and are seeking certification in that subject area with an ESOL endorsement, you are also an Initial Applicant. Go here to begin the application process.
- If you are not a graduate of a state-approved teacher preparation program but have an education major, you must apply for a Temporary Certificate, which will allow you to begin teaching while completing the necessary requirements. Go here to apply.
- If you graduated from an out-of-state approved teacher preparation program, you must also apply for a Temporary Certificate. Go here to apply.
- If you graduated from a foreign country, you must also apply for a Temporary Certificate (and have your educational credentials assessed, which will be explained in the application). Go here to apply.
When the Florida Department of Education evaluates your application and supporting documents, you will be issued an Official Statement of Status of Eligibility. This statement is valid for three years and informs you if you are eligible for a Temporary Certificate or for a Professional Certificate.
Either type of certificate will not be issued until you are employed in a Florida school, so your next step is to seek a teaching job in a Florida public, non-public, charter or other state-approved school. TeachInFlorida.com can help you in this endeavor. Once you have secured a teaching position, and passed a fingerprint check, your certificate will be mailed to you.
Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Florida Teaching Certificate
Do you have a Temporary Certificate? If so, you may teach with it for three school years. You are expected to meet all the qualifications for a Professional Certificate during this period, including passing any of the FTCE tests you might not have taken yet. A Temporary Certificate is not renewable.
If you hold a Professional Certificate, it is valid for five school years. You may secure a renewal form from your school district’s office. During the five years of its validity, you must complete six semester hours of college credit (120 hours of in-service) for each subject area in which you hold certification.
If you have a Professional Certificate in another area (not ESOL) and have earned ESOL certification by passing the FTCE Subject Area Exam, you must complete 6 credit hours/120 hours of ESOL in-service or courses within three years of passing the test.
Course titles or descriptions that qualify for credit include:
- Cross cultural communication
- ESOL testing and evaluation
- ESOL curriculum and instruction
- Applied linguistics
- ESOL methods
If you have a Professional Certificate in another area (not ESOL) and have earned an ESOL endorsement, you need not accumulate additional in-service points in ESOL when you renew your teaching certificate – the ESOL endorsement will be automatically renewed.
Things to keep in mind:
- You must earn one semester hour of credit each renewal period (every three years) in teaching students with disabilities
- 20 in-service points in an approved Florida master in-service program equals one semester hour of college credit
- If you pass the FTCE subject test in your area of certification, that counts for 3 semester hours of credit
- If you obtain certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in your certified subject area, it will automatically renew your Florida teaching certificate in that subject
- If you teach a college-level course, you will earn the same amount of credit as if you took that course
Many Florida ESOL teachers go on to pursue graduate degrees. A master’s degree can help you to move up in the Florida school system, and to command a higher salary than your peers. Some master’s degrees lead directly to Florida certification in additional subjects as well. Potential graduate degrees in ESOL in Florida include:
- Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics – Teaching English as a Second Language
- Master of Education – Concentration in Teaching English as a Second Language
- Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction with ESOL Specialization
- Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction with ESOL Specialization
- Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with ESOL Specialization