Missouri ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

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

Obtain Your TESOL Teaching Degree
Pass Your MoGEA Exam and Apply for Your Missouri Teacher’s License
Maintain Your ESL Endorsement Through Professional Development

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) uses the term “limited English proficient” (LEP) to refer to individuals aged 3-21 who are deficient in English and either enrolled or preparing to enroll in elementary or secondary school. The DESE has established three categories of LEP students:

  • Those who were not born in the US or speak a native language other than English
  • Alaska natives or native Americans
  • Migratory students with a native language other than English

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 2.6% of Missouri’s public school students participated in programs for English language learners (ELL) in 2011-12. These 23,169 students represented an increase of 13.5% over 2010-11 totals.

English as a second language (ESL) teachers are those who work with these students to help them learn English and master content subjects. The DESE refers to ESL K-12 educators as being teachers of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL).

A typical ESOL job description in Missouri includes having a broad knowledge base in pedagogy and curriculum and being able to deliver programs that support the premise that all children can learn. In addition to teaching K-12 students, an ESL education can provide you with a number of additional job options. You can teach at US universities, and your options in foreign countries would range from university teaching to training businesspeople to speak English.



Step 1. Obtain Your TESOL Teaching Degree

In Missouri, ESL teaching is considered a content area, which means you can get your initial teaching certification in this area after completing a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification program.

Your first step in becoming a certified teacher in Missouri is to get a bachelor’s degree at minimum. To qualify for an Initial Professional Certificate, you need to earn your degree from a DESE approved teacher education program.

*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.

If you are already a licensed teacher, you can go back to school and add an ELL endorsement to your teaching certificate.

The DESE has approved eleven schools to train you to teach ELL students. They provide a number of degree options. Some train you to teach adults, while others provide TESOL certification to teach K-12 students.

You will have to take at least 21 semester hours of these courses to be able to obtain an ELL endorsement:

  • ESOL practicum
  • Language and culture or sociolinguistics
  • Linguistics and English linguistics
  • Material for teaching English to speakers of other languages and the assessment of speakers of other languages
  • Methods of teaching second language students
  • Second language acquisition

One way to get this education in Missouri is to get an ESOL minor in a Department of English.

Adding an ELL Endorsement to an Existing Teaching License

If you are already a licensed teacher and want to add an ELL endorsement to your teaching certificate, you have a number of options through the many ESOL master’s programs that are available in the state.

If you are a licensed teacher with a bachelor’s degree, you can get certified to teach K-12 ELL by getting TESL master’s degree:

  • Master’s Degree in Teaching ELL – This program involves taking 32 hours of coursework. If you are a new teacher with one or two years of teaching experience, you have to take the GRE to be accepted into this program. You have to get a score of 700 between the combined quantitative and verbal sections of the exam.
  • M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)If you are a licensed teacher in content area and want to expand your teaching prowess, this program is designed for you. You can get a K-12 English Language Learner (ELL) Education Emphasis as part of this degree.
  • Master’s of Applied Science in Assessment—TESOL Option – You will take 21 hours of courses in addition to getting certified in another area. In addition to learning strategies to help ELL, you will master the techniques of student assessment. You can get this degree with or without Missouri teaching certification.

Teachers with a Master’s Degree in Education

If you are already an elementary or secondary teacher with a Master’s degree in Education, there is an ESL program designed for you. It involves taking 21 hours of courses. You will graduate with a Master of Science in Education Teaching and an add-on certification for ELL/ESOL.

Certification for Recent Graduates and Career Changers

If you want to change careers or just recently graduated from college, you have several options to become a certified ESL teacher. These programs provide both teacher certification and specialized ESL education:

  • Post-baccalaureate CertificationYou can take the coursework to get certified to teach ESOL without being accepted in the degree program.
  • TESOL Graduate Certification – This 18-hour program from a College of Education will prepare you to teach ESOL.



Step 2. Pass Your MoGEA Exam and Apply for Your Missouri Teacher’s License

Before you can apply for your teaching license, you need to pass an exam to show that you have mastered your teaching skills. You will take the Missouri General Education Assessment (MoGEA). It will assess your expertise in a range of areas:

  • English language arts
  • Writing
  • Social science
  • Mathematics
  • Science

After you pass your exam, your next step to get an ESL teacher’s license is to submit your application. You must satisfy these requirements in order to apply for an Initial Professional Certificate:

  • A recommendation from your institution that you are qualified to teach
  • A background check
  • Official transcripts of all of your coursework
  • A GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale



Step 3. Maintain Your ESL Endorsement Through Professional Development

Keeping abreast of professional developments can help your ESL teaching strategies and will help you when have to renew your license. One way to do this is to join MIDTESOL—the Mid-America Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

You will need to renew your ESL Initial Professional Certificate after you have been teaching for four years. You must do this 1-2 months before your license expires. In addition to proving that you have been mentored, you will need to provide proof of 15 professional development contact hours to be able to your renew your license. This equals one college credit hour.

One way to obtain this college credit is by enrolling in a master’s program. This will also help you to advance your career. Your options include taking advanced courses in education. You can also add take courses in an additional content area to increase your ability to teach LEP students in content areas.

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