Illinois ESL Teacher Job Description and Certification Requirements

In Illinois, English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers may work with students in grades K through 12. The advanced credential issued through the Illinois State Board of Education Division of Educator Licensure for ESL teachers in the state is called the ENL, or English as a New Language endorsement.

Although a survey by the Latino Policy Forum found that only six percent of pre-K teachers in Illinois are qualified to teach English Language Learners (ELLs), by 2014, the state plans for all teachers who instruct groups of ELLs to have such credentials.

If you wish to become an ESL teacher in Illinois, follow these steps:

Complete a Bachelor Degree and Educator Preparation Program
Pass the Tests Required for ESL Teachers in Illinois
Apply for Your Illinois Teaching License and ESL Endorsement
Maintain and Upgrade Your Illinois Teaching License

 


 

Step 1. Complete an Illinois ESL Degree and Teacher Preparation Program

You must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program that results in a minimum of a bachelor degree. A directory of Illinois approved educator preparation programs may be found here. You will need to decide what type of Professional Educator License you wish to earn, as your teaching license will be in one of the following areas, with the ENL or ESL endorsement:

  • Early Childhood Education (Birth-Grade 3)
  • Elementary Education (Grades K-9)
  • Secondary Education (Grades 6-12)
  • Special Teaching (Grades K-12)
  • Special Education (Grades PK-Age 21)

*Capella University offers an online Master’s program in English Language Learning and Teaching designed to help educators advance their career in supporting diverse student populations. While it does not satisfy licensure requirements, the program can help you build the skills to use instructional strategies, emerging trends, and best practices to effectively teach English Language Learners and help students adapt to new cultural environments.

*The USC Rossier School of Education offers its Master of Arts in Teaching - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT-TESOL) program online, allowing current and aspiring educators to earn a master’s degree from a top-ranked university and specialize in teaching English to non-native speakers - from anywhere in the world.

Additionally, to receive the ESL endorsement on your teaching license, you must complete a concentration in TESOL studies, which varies depending upon your certification area:

  • If you hold an Early Childhood or Elementary Education license, or a Special Teaching license but intend to teach in these grades, the Primary Endorsement is called English as a Second Language (ESL) and requires:
    • 18 semester hours of college coursework:
      • Elective (additional bilingual or ESL course)
      • Cross cultural studies for teaching limited English proficient students
      • Methods and materials for teaching ESL
      • Assessment of the bilingual student
      • Theoretical foundations of teaching ESL
      • Linguistics
    • No content area test is required for this endorsement
  • If you hold an Elementary Education (intending to teach the grade range for middle school 5-8), Secondary Education (intending to teach the middle school grade range 6-8), Special K-12 or Special Education PK-21 license, the Middle School Endorsement is called English as a Second Language (ESL) and requires:
    • 18 semester hours of college coursework:
      • Elective (additional bilingual or ESL course)
      • Cross cultural studies for teaching limited English proficient students
      • Methods and materials for teaching ESL
      • Assessment of the bilingual student
      • Theoretical foundations of teaching ESL
      • Linguistics
    • No content area test is required for this endorsement
  • If you hold a Secondary Education (grades 9-12), Special K-12 or Special Education PK-21 license, there are two different endorsements possible at the Senior High level:
    • ESL endorsement, which requires:
      • 18 semester hours of college coursework:
        • Elective (additional bilingual or ESL course)
        • Cross cultural studies for teaching limited English proficient students
        • Methods and materials for teaching ESL
        • Assessment of the bilingual student
        • Theoretical foundations of teaching ESL
        • Linguistics
      • No content area test is required for this endorsement
    • English as a New Language (ENL) endorsement- the advanced endorsement – which requires:
      • 24 semester hours of college education, with 12 at the upper division level,
      • Passing the English as a New Language content area test (see Step 2)

Additional requirements for TESOL certification in Illinois at any grade level include:

  • Receiving a grade of C or better in all ESL coursework
  • Completion of a clinical experience in ESL, equaling at least 100 clock hours, or three months of experience in teaching ESL students
  • Additional requirements for the ESL endorsement at the middle school level include:
  • 3 semester hours of courses in middle school curriculum, philosophy and instructional methods, and teaching programs that are developmentally appropriate, including reading, AND
  • 3 semester hours of courses in educational psychology with a focus on development of early adolescents and the role of the middle school teacher in assessing and referring students to appropriate social and health services

 


 

Step 2. Pass the Tests Required for ESL Teachers in Illinois

Illinois hosts its own examination system that all teachers must participate in to become licensed – the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS). Tests that you must pass are at the basic skills and content area levels.

Basic skills testing

You must first pass the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP), which will assess your skills and abilities in writing, mathematics, reading comprehension and language arts. You must pass each subtest in order to pass the entire TAP.

If you took the following exams and received the corresponding scores, you are exempt from taking the TAP:

  • ACT Plus Writing – composite score of 22 or better
  • SAT (critical reading and mathematics) – composite score of 1030 or better

You must also pass the Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT), which assesses your knowledge of pedagogy and professional skills.

Beginning in September 2015, all aspiring teachers in Illinois must pass the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment). This assessment will be taken after you have completed your student teaching.

Content area testing

You need not pass any content area examinations to obtain the ESL endorsement.

In order to receive the ENL endorsement in Illinois at the senior high level (the advanced level endorsement), you must next pass the ILTS English as a New Language content area test. This exam will test your knowledge in professional collaboration, conduct and growth; development of English language skills; and foundations of ENL instruction. You must pass the test with a score of 240 or better.

 


 

Step 3. Apply for Your Illinois Teaching License and ESL Endorsement

Once you have completed the above requirements, you are ready to apply for your teaching license in Illinois. You will have a pending entitlement notification on your ELIS (Educator License Information System) home screen. Click that to begin the application process.

When you receive your teaching license, it must be registered. This may also be done via the ELIS online system. Your license does not become valid until you register it, and you must register it in all regions of the state in which you teach. You must pay $50 in registration fees for a five-year professional educator’s license ($10 per year). You must pay separately for each license you hold.

 


 

Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Illinois Teaching License

Your Professional Educator License is valid for five years. You can renew your license online. During the five-year validity period of your license, you must complete professional development activities to maintain your license. The hours required are based upon your degree status:

  • If you have a bachelor’s degree, you must complete 120 hours of professional development or one uniquely qualifying activity
  • If you have a master’s degree, you must complete 80 hours of professional development or one uniquely qualifying activity
  • If you have two or more advanced degrees, you must complete 40 hours of professional development or one uniquely qualifying activity

If you are certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), you must complete 40 hours of professional development or one uniquely qualifying activity.

Uniquely qualifying activities include:

  • Earning an Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) professional license or American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) certificate
  • Becoming highly qualified in a new area (use the Illinois Education Association Worksheet to determine)
  • Receiving a new endorsement on your Illinois teaching license
  • Completing the NBPTS certification program
  • Earning an advanced degree

Professional development activities that qualify for credit include (but are not limited to- go here for a full list):

  • Attending and participating in collaborative professional meetings
  • Peer review and coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Coordinating community resources in schools
  • Making presentations
  • Supervising a student teacher
  • Taking an undergraduate or graduate course relevant to your teaching area
  • Teaching college or university courses

Graduate Degrees

As you can see from the above, earning a graduate degree can benefit you as a teacher in Illinois. There are many types of ESL graduate degrees available within the state’s institutions and online. Some of them include:

  • Master of Arts in Teaching of English as a Second Language (MATESL)
  • Graduate Certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Master of Arts in English with concentration in TESOL
  • Master of Arts in Linguistics with concentration in TESOL
  • Master of Education with concentration in TESOL

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