Kansas ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Kansas is one of 14 states in which the English Language Learner (ELL) population in public schools is between 6.0 and 9.9 percent. During the 2002-03 school year, Kansas had 17,942 public school students participating in ELL programs. By the 2011-12 school year, that number had jumped to 41,052. This is encouraging news for aspiring ESOL certified teachers in Kansas.

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in Kansas may be licensed for grades K-12.Follow these steps to become an ESOL teacher in Kansas:

Complete a Bachelor Degree and Educator Preparation Program
Pass Pedagogy and Content Area Exams
Apply for Your Kansas Teaching License
Maintain and Upgrade Your Kansas Teaching License



Step 1. Complete a Degree in TESOL and Teacher Preparation Program in Kansas

You must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and complete an approved Kansas teacher preparation program if you seek TESOL certification in Kansas. A list of approved Kansas teacher preparation programs, categorized by the endorsement you seek, is available here.

You must also meet Kansas’ recency requirement, meaning you must have completed at least 8 credit hours of education or one year of teaching experience within the past six years prior to licensure application.

When seeking your initial teaching license, you must choose in which grade level you wish to teach. ESL in Kansas is a K-12 program, so Elementary, Middle or Secondary would be the areas in which to concentrate your education (in additional to ESOL courses). Making this decision will also help you to know what pedagogy examination you must pass in Step 2.

*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.

Most ESOL teacher preparation programs in Kansas will require at least 15 credit hours of ESOL education, in courses such as (but not limited to):

  • Linguistics
  • Language in Culture and Society
  • Instructional Approaches for ESOL learners
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Diagnosis and Remediation in Second Language Education

Your Kansas teacher preparation program will include a student teaching experience, the duration of which will depend upon your program’s policies. During this field experience, you will be placed in a classroom that is grade-level and content area appropriate to your teaching aspirations post- graduation. You will be supervised by a classroom teacher, who will also assess your performance. You may be asked to observe the teacher in action, prepare and implement lesson plans, or even to lead the class.



Step 2. Pass the Mandatory Tests for ESOL Teachers in KS

Educational Testing Service provides the testing services for prospective Kansas teachers, at the pedagogical and content area levels. Known as the Praxis exams, all teachers must pass at least one of the four pedagogy exams. Then you must pass the Praxis II content area exam(s) that correlates to the subject(s) you wish to teach. (Basic skills are not tested when you apply for licensure, as it is assumed they were assessed during your teacher preparation program).

Pedagogy Exams

In order to receive your Initial License, you must pass one of the four tests below:

Content Area Exams

The Kansas State Department of Education also requires that you pass content area exams for each subject in which you wish to teach. For ESOL endorsement, this means you must pass the English to Speakers of Other Languages test with a score of 138.


If you meet any of the following criteria, you may qualify for an exemption from taking some of the tests listed above. Contact the Kansas State Department of Education Licensure Operator at (785) 296-2288   for more information.

  • If you were licensed/certified to teach before May 1, 1986
  • If you are National Board Certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • If you have competed a comparable assessment in another state and hold teacher licensure/certification there
  • If you meet specific experience and licensure requirements



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

If you have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, completed a teacher preparation program including the field experience, and passed the necessary tests, you are ready to apply for you teaching license to become an ESOL teacher in Kansas.

  • Did you graduate from an approved Kansas teacher preparation program? You may begin the application process online.
  • Did you graduate from an out-of-state approved teacher preparation program? You must first order a fingerprint card, and then complete the Initial Out-of –State Application.
  • Did you graduate from a foreign teacher preparation program (outside of the United States)? In addition to requesting the fingerprint card, you must also obtain an evaluation of your academic credentials by one of the agencies listed here. This course-by-course evaluation must be mailed to the Kansas State Department of Education. You may also need to take an English proficiency test, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). When you are ready to apply, complete the Initial Out-of-Country Application.

All applications and materials must be mailed to Teacher Licensure and Accreditation, Landon State Office Building, 900 SW Jackson, Suite 106, Topeka, KS 66612.

The endorsement will be added to your teacher’s license as you pass the ESOL examination listed in Step 2. If you seek further endorsements in the future, they may be obtained by passing the appropriate Praxis II examination (with the exception of the following endorsements, which cannot be attained by test scores alone):

  • Early childhood unified
  • Elementary education
  • Special education (gifted, adaptive, deaf or hard of hearing, functional and visually impaired)



Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Kansas Teaching License

Your Initial Teaching License in Kansas it is valid for two years. You are expected to complete the state’s Induction and Mentoring Program at the Kansas public school where you teach during this two-year period. Your school administrator must verify that you have completed the program when you apply for a professional license, using this application.

Your Professional Teaching License has a validity of five years. You must complete professional development during this time in order to renew the license.

  • If you do not hold a graduate degree, choose from the following options:

    • Earn 160 professional development points by an approved local development council under an individual professional development plan. 80 of these points must be in the form of college credit


    • If you have just completed a program for a new teaching endorsement, or an endorsement in school leadership or specialist, apply 8 semester credit hours of this program towards your renewal credits


    • Become certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (then you will be eligible for an Accomplished Teaching License, which is valid for 10 years)

  • If you hold a graduate degree:

    • Earn 120 professional development points by an approved local development council under an individual professional development plan
    • If you can verify three years of experience working at an accredited school under your professional license, you may use this experience in place of the 120 professional development points. This, however, may only be used twice during your teaching career.

Graduate Degrees

Earning a graduate degree can be most beneficial to you as an ESOL teacher in Kansas. As you can see above, it helps you to renew your Professional License more easily. Graduate studies can also help you to earn a higher salary. Possibilities for graduate ESOL degrees in Kansas include:

  • Master of Arts in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Master of Science in Education- Concentration in TESOL
  • Master of Arts in Education – Concentration in TESOL
  • Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction – TESOL Concentration

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