Michigan ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

Here are the steps you need to take to become an ESL teacher in Michigan:

Earn a TESOL Degree to Qualify for a Teaching License and ESL Endorsement
Pass the ESL MTTC and Apply for Your Michigan Teacher’s License with ESL Endorsement
Fulfill Your Professional Development Requirements to Renew Your Michigan License

According to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), during the 2012-13 school year about 4% of Michigan’s Pre K-12 students were English Learners (ELs). The MDE reported that 76,409 students fell into this category.

More than 60 different languages are spoken among these students, with Spanish and Arabic making up 44% and 27% respectively. While these students bring diverse strengths into Michigan’s classrooms, they also present unique challenges. English as a second language (ESL) teachers help these students master the English language so they can succeed in general education classrooms.

In addition to teaching K-12 students, ESL teachers in Michigan are in demand in a number of other areas. Some teach adults at colleges and community centers, while others work for the federal government or private businesses. A Michigan ESL teacher’s job description can range from teaching K-12 students to incorporating ESL education into adult employment training.

The specialty of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) is in high demand in academic institutions and businesses in other countries. In addition, this background is highly valuable for humanitarian volunteers such as those in the Peace Corps or religious missions.



Step 1. Earn a TESOL Degree to Qualify for a Teaching License and ESL Endorsement

There are two primary ways that you can qualify for a teaching license and ESL endorsement in Michigan. They include:

  • Getting an ESL minor when you get your teaching degree at the bachelor’s level
  • Obtaining a TESOL master’s degree

You also have to choose a grade range for a Michigan ESL endorsement:

  • K-12
  • Elementary education
  • Secondary education

If you are already licensed, you can add an ESL endorsement to your teaching certificate:

  • Undergraduate endorsement programs
  • Graduate certification

*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.

The MDE has approved 16 different schools that provide ESL teacher training — officially known as NS certification. Most of them also offer the option of getting a minor. In all cases, you have to take at least 20 semester hours of ESL courses to get Michigan’s TESOL certification.

ESL Minors

If you choose to get an ESL minor while you are getting your Michigan teacher education, you will have to major or minor in an additional area to get your bachelor’s degree. Typical courses that you might take include:

  • Grammar for ESL teachers
  • Introduction to language
  • Methodology: listening and speaking
  • Second language acquisition
  • SLA testing and assessment
  • TESOL methodology: content-based approaches
  • TESOL methodology: listening and speaking

Adding an ESL Endorsement

If you are already a certified Michigan teacher and want to add an ESL endorsement to your certificate, you can complete an ESL endorsement program through undergraduate or graduate coursework.

If you do not have extensive teaching experience, you will have to complete a practicum class to get ESL teaching experience.

You must have a Provisional or Professional Education Certificate to be eligible for this endorsement.



Step 2. Pass the ESL MTTC and Apply for Your Michigan Teacher’s License with ESL Endorsement

Once you have completed your ESL coursework and have teaching experience, you will need to pass Michigan’s standardized ESL test. This is the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) test 86.

You should prepare for this test, and Michigan offers a study guide with sample questions. One quarter of the test is on the Application of Standards-Based Curriculum and Assessment, while the rest involves 15% of each of these topics:

  • Assessment
  • Culture
  • Language, Linguistics, and Comparisons
  • Professionalism
  • Second Language Acquisition and Instructional Practices

Once you have passed this test, you can apply for your ESL endorsement.

You will need to apply for your initial Michigan teacher’s license and your endorsement online through Michigan’s Online Educator Certification System. This will involve creating an account and keeping track of your Michigan Education Information Systems (MEIS) account number.

Once you have logged in and chosen “Educator” from the dropdown menu, the system will guide you through the application process.

You must apply for your ESL endorsement within five years after taking your ESL exam.



Step 3. Fulfill Your Professional Development Requirements to Renew Your Michigan License

ESL Teaching Resources

The MDE takes an active role in guiding Michigan’s ESL teachers. The MI-MAP on Developing English Language Proficiency provides a number of resources for program development. It will help you to provide a well-designed ESL curriculum and assess how well your students are learning.

ESL Professional Organization

You may also want to join the Michigan Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (MITESOL) to keep abreast of developments in the field. In addition to providing informational events such as conferences, it also has an active jobs listing.

Renewing Your Certificate

After three years you will need to renew your Provisional Certificate, during which time you will be required to demonstrate that you have been working to advance your teaching knowledge. This can involve semester credit hours, Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECHs), or a combination. You can also renew your license by getting an approved master’s degree.

Your second renewal has similar requirements, while your third requires sponsorship from your school. You must also have completed all of the academic requirements for your Professional Education Certificate.

If you have a Professional Education Certificate, it is good for five years. The renewal requirements are similar, but you can also use District Provided Professional Development (DDPD) clock hours to meet your requirements.

ESL Master’s Degrees

One way to meet your professional development requirements and advance your career is to complete an ESL master’s degree that is designed for certified teachers. Most of these degrees are offered as M.A. TESOL in Michigan. Some are entirely based around coursework, while others require that you do research and write a thesis.

While you can enter several of these programs from a variety of backgrounds, one requires that you majored or minored in one of these fields:

  • A foreign language
  • English
  • Language arts
  • Linguistics
  • Reading

In addition, you can get an M.Ed. in Literacy Studies with an Emphasis on TESOL. While you will receive extensive training in ESL teaching, you will also take coursework in integrating technology into your curriculum.

Michigan also offers a Peace Corps Master’s International Program. It combines TESOL coursework with 27 months of Peace Corps service.

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