Maryland ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

Over the past 10 years the number of public school students who attend programs for English language learners has doubled in Maryland, reaching a current level of more than 50,000 students. This changing demographic reflects both the importance ESL teachers have in the classroom as well as a trend that points to an increasing demand for these professionals.

The Department of Education entrusts its Division of Certification with ensuring that all prospective teachers applying for TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification have met the proper qualifications and completed the requisite eligibility process. To become an ESL teacher in Maryland, you will need to complete the following steps:

Earn a Degree in the Field of TESOL
Complete the Maryland Testing Requirements
Apply for your Maryland TESOL Certification
Renew Your Maryland TESOL Certification

 


 

Step 1. Earn a Degree in the Field of TESOL

In Maryland ESL teachers are also be referred to as teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or ESOL teachers.

The most direct route to fulfill the Maryland TESOL certification requirements is to complete a bachelor’s degree in a field related to TESOL that includes an approved teaching program for ESL.

*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.

A curriculum that meets the endorsement requirements for ESOL teachers in Maine will include the following courses:

  • Six semester credits in linguistics and the study of American English
  • Three semester credits in cross-cultural studies including knowledge and sensitivity to modern cultures
  • Six semester credits in language learning and acquisition, such as language development or psycholinguistics
  • Six semester credits in educational foundations, including a course in the foundational psychology of education
  • 12 semester credits in ESOL, including three credits in each of the following:

    • ESOL methods
    • Teaching writing to limited English proficiency students
    • ESOL tests and measurements

  • Three semester credits pertaining to the inclusion of special-needs students
  • Six semester credits in ESOL student teaching or one year of successful ESOL teaching
  • Six semester credits in a modern foreign language – the most common non-English languages among Maryland’s public school students are:

    • Spanish
    • Korean
    • French
    • Chinese
    • Vietnamese

You should complete these courses either through university and college classes or through your teaching program. Schools located across Maryland and online offer content in TESOL in the form of:

  • Certification programs
  • Bachelor’s of arts degrees
  • Post-baccalaureate programs
  • Master’s of arts degrees

Your teaching program will focus on education and pedagogy, preparing you to become a highly effective teacher. In Maryland you can find several traditional approved teaching programs in TESOL. In a traditional program you will complete a series of courses that focus on the education of ESL which culminate in a student teaching segment where you will be placed in an ESOL classroom to work under the close supervision of an experienced teacher.

Approved Teaching Programs

If you already have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of ESOL you may choose to complete an alternative teaching program in ESOL. This will resemble the traditional program in that it will focus on the pedagogy of ESOL, however this will be an intensive segment and be followed by direct classroom placement where you will work in a mentored relationship with an experienced ESOL teacher. Some alternative teacher programs can place you in the classroom as a teacher in just six weeks.

Out-of-State Reciprocity

ESOL teachers who currently hold a valid certification from a different state are generally eligible for a Maryland teaching certification if the TESOL education program they completed was approved by their home state.

 


 

Step 2. Complete the Maryland Testing Requirements

Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers both tests you will need to pass to become qualified for an ESL teaching certification:

  • Essential Skills Test
  • English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam

Essential Skills Test

The Maryland Department of Education wants to ensure that all the teachers it certifies have a basic level of essential skills required to be an effective communicator and educator. To meet this requirement, you must demonstrate a basic level of competence in writing, math, and reading. ETS offers two exams you can choose from:

  • Praxis I Exam – required for all teachers until September of 2014, with three subtests in:
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators – can be taken in place of the Praxis I Exam beginning in September of 2014, with three subtests in:

You can be exempt from both the Praxis I and Core tests if you have achieved a qualifying minimum score on any of the following tests:

  • GRE before September 2011 – composite score of 1000
  • GRE General Test combined verbal and quantitative score of 297
  • ACT composite score of 24
  • SAT combined verbal and math score of 1100

English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam

The English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam will assess you on your specific knowledge in the field of ESL. This exam may also be referred to as a Praxis II Content Knowledge exam. You will be allowed two hours to complete this test, which is comprised of 120 questions in total:

  • 20 questions on a listening portion which you will have half an hour to complete
  • 100 select-response questions taken from four subject categories:
    • Foundations of linguistics and language learning
    • Managing, planning, and implementing instruction
    • Choosing and evaluating ESL assessments
    • Professional and cultural aspects of the Maryland ESL teacher job description

 


 

Step 3. Apply for your Maryland TESOL Certification

Once you have reached this point you will be ready to apply for a TESOL teaching certification. A complete application packet will include:

  • Cover letter with your name, mailing address, and social security number that also specifies you are applying for an ESOL endorsement on one of the following teaching certificate types:

    • Professional Eligibility Certificate – if you are not currently employed as a teacher in Maryland; this is the most common certificate for new applicants
    • Resident Teacher Certificate – if you are becoming an ESL teacher through an alternative teaching program
    • Standard Professional Certificate – if you are already a Maryland teacher

  • Application
  • ETS test scores
  • $10 application fee
  • Official transcripts from your degree and teacher program

You can submit all your application materials to:

Department of Education
Certification Branch
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Once you receive your certification you will be ready to start hunting for ESL teacher jobs in Maryland.

Already a Maryland Teacher – Adding an Endorsement

If you are already a certified Maryland teacher you can simply add an endorsement in ESL/ESOL to your existing certification. To do this you will send a cover letter to your local school, or if unemployed to the Department of Education Certification Branch. In your cover letter make sure to specify that you are requesting an added endorsement in the area of teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Along with your cover letter you must include one of the following:

  • A passing test score (at least 149) on the English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam
  • Official transcripts showing that you have completed the requisite amount of semester credits in ESL and education courses

 


 

Step 4. Renew Your Maryland TESOL Certification

Once you are hired as an ESL teacher you will be eligible for a Standard Professional Certificate (SPC). This is valid for five years and you can renew your SPC by earning six semester credits that relate to ESL from a college or university. After holding an SPC for at least five years you will be eligible for an upgrade to an SPC II. To upgrade you must meet fulfill all of the following conditions:

  • Complete three years of teaching performance that is judged to be satisfactory
  • Earn six semester credits in the field of TESOL
  • Complete a professional development plan that lays out how you will become eligible for the next level of teaching certification above an SPC II- an Advanced Professional Certificate

To be eligible for an Advanced Professional Certificate you will need to:

  • Have an SPC II for at least five years
  • Continue to meet the requirements for an SPC II
  • Qualify for eligibility through one of the following three ways:
    • Have a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL
    • Have National Board Certification and complete at least 12 semesters of graduate-level courses
    • Complete at least 36 semester credits of post-baccalaureate education, including at least 21 credits at the graduate level.

The Maryland Department of Education encourages its teachers to work towards a master’s degree in their field, as evidenced by the fact that graduate-level courses or a graduate degree are requirements for more advanced teaching certificates. Earning a master’s degree will make you eligible for these advanced ESL teaching certifications and can also improve your overall teaching, salary, and job security.

You can find additional professional resources and networking opportunities through organizations such as:

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