Here are the steps you need to take to become an ESL teacher in accordance with requirements set forth by the Mississippi Department of Education:
|Enroll in an Approved ESL Teacher Education Program|
|Pass the Required Praxis Exam|
|Apply for your Mississippi Teacher’s License and ESL Endorsement|
|Maintain Your ESL Endorsement Through CEUs|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 6,175 public school students in Mississippi participated in English Language Learners (ELL) programs during the 2011-2012 school year. This was an increase of 10% from the previous school year. The total number of ELL students increased 2.7 times between 2002 and 2012.
Teachers of English as a second language (ESL) have a variety of roles in Mississippi. In some cases, they teach ESL as a content area. In others, they collaborate with mainstream classroom teachers and other support staff to plan instruction for ESL students that helps them to learn throughout their whole school day. Thus, an ESL teacher’s job description frequently specifies helping students to master content areas in addition to planning and providing specific ESL instruction.
Step 1. Enroll in an Approved ESL Teacher Education Program
You need a bachelor’s degree at minimum to become a teacher in Mississippi. To become an in Mississippi, you need an ESL endorsement. You can obtain TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification and qualify for educator licensure as part of your initial teacher education.
If you are already a certified teacher, you can go back and add an ESL endorsement to your existing license.
Most teachers take advantage of the traditional route and obtain degrees from approved teacher preparation programs. Going this route, you will end up with an initial teaching license.
You also have the option of pursuing a number of alternate routes for certification. These include:
- Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality Teachers
- Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program
- American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence
Five of the approved teacher preparation programs in Mississippi provide the opportunity for TESOL certification. You can get your ESL endorsement through undergraduate or graduate coursework. The number of semester hours you will take to get an ESL endorsement in Mississippi varies by program.
In one case, you can enroll in a TESOL program that is part of an interdisciplinary program. It is a collaborative effort between the departments of English, Education, Modern Languages, and Communication. Another program focuses on learning to teach ESL overseas and is part of an International Programs Office.
One of Mississippi’s programs offers you ELL certification through four courses:
- Applied linguistics
- Methods & curriculum design
- Second language acquisition
- The multicultural classroom
You can take these courses at the undergraduate or graduate level. You also have the option of a TESOL minor as an undergraduate if you take two additional courses. You can choose between:
- Cross-cultural understanding
- History of the English language
- Intercultural communications
- Latin American
Another program that provides you with TESOL certification requires five courses:
- Introduction to linguistics
- Studies in second language acquisition
- One of these English courses:
- English syntax
- Description English grammar
- Two of these courses in pedagogy:
- Methods in TESOL
- Approaches to TESOL
- TESOL practicum
One of these undergraduate programs offers you the opportunity to take part in research projects and further your skills. You may be able to take your practicum in a foreign country such as Chile.
Another school offers you the opportunity to apply your ESL coursework to get a master’s degree. You will take 12 semester hours in the following courses:
- Applied linguistics in second and foreign languages
- Foundations of multicultural education
- Second language acquisition theory and practice
- Sociocultural and sociolinguistic perspectives in language
- Teaching second languages: theory and practice
Step 2. Pass the Required Praxis Exam
While Mississippi does not require you to take a standardized ESL exam, you will need to pass a Praxis exam before you can get certified. You will take a different exam depending on whether you obtained your degree through a teacher preparation program or through an alternate route.
If you graduated from a teacher preparation program, you need to take the Praxis II Principles of Learning & Teaching (PPLT).
For an alternate route, you have to take the Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE).
Step 3. Apply for your Mississippi Teacher’s License and ESL Endorsement
After you have passed your Praxis exam, you can apply for your teacher’s license and ESL endorsement. You can apply either online or using a paper application downloaded from the Mississippi Department of Education’s website.
You can get different types of licenses with an ESL education degree depending on which degree you got. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can get a Class A license. If you have an education degree with a graduate ESL endorsement, you can apply for a Class AA license.
For ESL certification through alternate routes, you need to take additional steps. These include:
- Obtaining your school’s online recommendation
- Applying through the Educator Licensure Management System (ELMS)
- Providing your college transcripts
If you are getting a MAPQT license, you will also need to submit your school’s mentoring form.
Step 4. Maintain Your ESL Endorsement Through CEUs
With all types of teaching licenses in Mississippi, you need to take part in professional development activities to be able to renew your certification. You may also want to join the professional organization that represents ESL teachers in Mississippi: AMTESOL (Alabama-Mississippi Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
District-Based Professional Development for ESL Teachers
Given that the needs of ESL students are constantly in flux, Mississippi requires that school districts provide programs to meet the professional needs of ESL teachers. The district’s program administrator is required to contribute to the following types of professional development opportunities for these teachers:
- High-quality professional development activities that are based in research on ELL education
- Allowing ESL teachers to attend at least one ESL professional development activity outside of their district a year
- Ensuring that ESL teacher professional development activities are available in the district
- Teaching ESL teachers to develop appropriate instructional practices and curricula
License Renewal Requirements
The Mississippi Department of Education requires that all teachers show evidence of professional development to maintain their teacher’s license. This can be done by taking Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or through ESL related coursework.
The requirements to renew a Class A license are one of the following:
- 10 CEUs related to ESL teaching
- 3 semester credits and 5 CEUs
- 6 semester credits
If you are renewing a higher-level license such as a Class AA one, you only need one of the following:
- 3 semester credits
- 5 CEUs
One of the ways you can meet these requirements is by obtaining an education master’s degree. In addition to helping you advance in a K-12 teaching position, having a master’s degree on top of your ESL education makes you competitive for jobs teaching English at foreign universities.