Indiana ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

Unlike many states that offer ESL endorsements, ESL teachers in Indiana are licensed to teach ESL as a content area. Here are the steps you need to complete to become an ESL teacher in Indiana:

Obtain a Degree in Teaching ESL
Take Your Pedagogy and ESL Exams
Apply for Your Indiana Teacher’s License
Fulfill Your Continuing Education Requirements to Renew Your License

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, five percent of Indiana’s public school students were enrolled in programs for limited English speakers in 2011-12, representing more than 50,000 students.

The Indiana Department of Education refers to such students as English Learners (ELs) and recognizes the problems they face in school. Proficiency in English is especially critical with content areas such as science or math that require a high degree of writing and reading ability.

The Indiana Department of Education began implementing new standards for ELs in the 2014 school year. They adopted the WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) English Language Development (ELD) standards, which are expected to advance academic language development and subsequently improve the academic achievement of students with limited proficiency in English.

Although ELs strongly benefit from having educators who are trained in teaching English as a second language (ESL), the U.S. Department of Education identified Indiana as one of the states projected to have a critical shortage of ESL teachers during the 2014-15 school year.

In addition to having bright prospects teaching K-12 students in Indiana, teachers with certification in the field of English as a New Language (ENL) find jobs in a variety of areas. Graduates of ESL programs in Indiana have gone on to such endeavors as teaching at ESL schools and businesses in foreign countries, working for the U.S. government, and working in public service for such organizations as the Peace Corps.

A typical job description for an Indiana ESL teacher stresses the importance of collaborating with other staff members such as instructional coaches and the school’s administration. One of their major responsibilities is to help the students experience and learn about U.S. culture. The Indiana General Assembly realized the importance of teaching English to ELs and funded the Non-English Speaking Program (NESP) in 1999.



Step 1. Obtain a Degree in Teaching ESL

The most common way to become an Indiana ESL teacher is to obtain a teaching degree with a major or minor in teaching English to non-natives. The Indiana Department of Education had 22 approved schools in 2014 that offered ESL degrees or certification. You can find a list of these schools in an Excel spreadsheet on their licensing website. These programs will train you to teach ESL as a content area and require a substantial amount of ESL coursework. These programs will help prepare you to pass the required ESL exam.

The Indiana Department of Education permits teachers to add a license for many content areas just by passing the appropriate exam. This is not the case for an English as a New Language (ENL) license. Certified teachers who want to add an ENL license must take ESL courses and pass the ESL exam. Thus, you have a wide variety of ESL degree and certification options in Indiana depending on your professional background.

*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.

ESL Bachelor’s Degree Majors

To get your initial teaching certification, you can obtain an ESL bachelor’s degree from Indiana Schools through English Departments. Such degrees include:

  • Teaching English Language Arts with English as a Second Language Add-on License
  • Bachelor of Arts with a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) major
  • Indiana Public School K-12 ENL Teaching License

You can also obtain P-12 TESOL licensure in conjunction with an education degree from a School of Social Sciences, Education and Business.

ESL Bachelor’s Degree Minors

If you are in a teacher preparation program, you can also qualify for an ENL license by getting an ESL minor. A number of Indiana schools offer ESL minors for teaching K-12 students:

  • English Language Teaching Program
  • B.A. Minor in English as a Second Language and/or Bilingual/Bicultural Education, K-12
  • B.A. with a TESOL minor from these departments:
    • Department of English
    • School of Social Sciences, Education and Business
    • English Language Teaching Department

In one College of Education, you can specialize in ENL content minors for the following grade levels:

  • Elementary Education K-6
  • Middle/Secondary Education 5-12

ESL Undergraduate Certification

If you are a licensed teacher, you can get ESL certification by taking the appropriate undergraduate courses. One option is to get a TESOL certificate from an English Language Teaching Department. Another is to obtain a certificate in Teaching English as a New Language (TENL) in a Department of English and Linguistics.

ESL Graduate Programs

Indiana has a variety of ESL graduate programs that range from intensive thesis programs to stand-alone certification programs. Your choices vary depending on whether you are seeking initial certification or are looking to add ENL to your teaching license. While virtually all of the programs are at the master’s level, you can get a Ph.D. in Second Language Studies/ESL.

ESL Teaching Master’s Degrees – You have a choice of several types of ESL teaching Master’s degrees from Indiana schools. Some are intensive programs that require a thesis or comprehensive exam, while others are designed to offer you the flexibility to earn your degree while you work. Potential master’s degrees include:

  • Master of Education in TESOL Education
  • Master of Arts in Second Language Studies/ESL
  • Master of Arts in TESOL
  • Master of Arts in English with Teaching English as a New Language (TENL) specialty

ESL Master’s Degree for Certified Teachers – If you already have a teaching license or are in the Transition to Teaching Program, you can get an ESL master’s degree while you continue to teach. This degree program offers you the choice of learning while you work over a period of 16 months or as part of a traditional semester calendar:

  • Master of Science in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education with a focus on English as a Second (New) Language

ESL Graduate Level Certification –Many of the graduate ESL programs are non-degree programs that will provide ESL certification:

  • English as a Second Language
  • Teaching English as a New Language (TENL):
  • Second Language Studies/ESL
  • TESOL Certificate for English Learners (EL)

Non-Traditional TESOL Certification

You must be at least 23 years old to take part in this program at the Institute for TESOL Studies. You can take the 15 hours of courses for undergraduate or graduate credit.



Step 2. Take Your Pedagogy and ESL Exams

All candidates for Indiana teacher licenses are required to take pedagogy exams. With the 2010 change in Indiana’s teacher certification rules, you are also required to take an ESL standardized test. The Indiana Department of Education has moved away from requiring Praxis exams. Instead, they require you to take the Indiana CORE Assessments for Indiana licensure.

To get ESL certification, you must take the ENL Content area assessment for English learners. This is paper test 019. You are allotted 105 minutes to answer 100 questions. You must obtain a score of 220 to pass this exam. Preparation materials are offered on the website.



Step 3. Apply for Your Indiana Teacher’s License

The Indiana Office of Educator Licensing and Development offers two types of licenses. If you just got your teaching degree, you can get a two year Initial Practitioner license. If you are a working teacher and have completed your mentoring program, you can get a five year Proficient Practitioner License.

You must meet two additional requirements before you can apply for your first license:

  • Have CPR and Heimlich Maneuver certification
  • Have taken a class on child suicide and prevention

Once you have met all the requirements, you can apply for your license online at the Licensing Verification and Information System website.



Step 4. Fulfill Your Continuing Education Requirements to Renew Your License

Since ESL education is a high priority in Indiana, the Indiana Department of Education provides a number of resources to help you teach these students. One is an article on practical strategies to support ELs in the classroom. Also, the Office of English Learning and Migrant Education provides a number of resources that may be helpful.

As of 2010, your recommendation for renewal is handled by your school district. These new regulations require that you complete a Professional Growth Plan (PGP) containing 90 points. This is equivalent to six semester credit hours. Your principal will verify your activities and points.

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