The National Education Association has reported that Montana is one of just three states that experienced a more than 50 percent increase in ELL (English Language Learner) student enrollment over the past ten years. As of the end of the 2012 year, 2.3 percent of Montana’s K-12 student body was classified as ELLs. While this percentage may be lower than the national average of 9 percent, it still points to a need for more TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages)-certified teachers in Montana.
In Montana, English as a Second Language (ESL) is available as an endorsement on a Class 1 or Class 2 teaching license. You must be licensed in another teaching area.
Follow these steps to become an ESL teacher in Montana:
|Complete a Bachelor’s Degree at Minimum in TESOL and a Teacher Prep Program|
|Apply for Your Montana Teaching License with TESOL Certification|
|Maintain and Upgrade Your Montana Teaching License|
Step 1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree at Minimum in TESOL and a Teacher Prep Program
In order to become an ESL teacher in Montana, you must complete a minimum of a bachelor degree program. You will also complete a Montana-approved teacher preparation program. A list of approved educator preparation programs in Montana may be found here.
During your educator preparation program, you must score at least an 8 on a multi-dimensional content test to ensure that you will receive a licensure recommendation from your school’s licensure officer. You must also complete a period of supervised teaching practice, the length of which will vary depending upon your program’s policies and procedures.
If you attended college in another state, your credits should transfer to Montana as long as your school was regionally accredited and your major is within an area in which Montana offers teacher licensure.
Credit Requirements to Add TESOL Certification
Montana teachers who are licensed to teach elementary school (grades K-8) are qualified to teach all subjects in those grades.
Secondary teachers in Montana teaching grades 5-12 must complete at least 16 semester hours in professional educator preparation coursework.
If you are seeking a K-12 endorsement such as ESL, you must also complete 30 semester hours in that specific major plus 20 semester hours in a minor; or 40 semester hours in a general content major.
Montana does not require testing for teacher licensure. You will be expected to pass some content examinations during your educator preparation program. However, if you wish to attain Highly Qualified Teacher status, you must pass certain examinations. ESL is not an area in which Highly Qualified Teacher status is offered in Montana.
Step 2. Apply for Your Montana Teaching License with TESOL Certification
You will likely be applying for a Class 2: Standard Teaching License, which is the license that is typically issued to first-time applicants in Montana who meet all requirements.
The second type of teaching license, Class 1: Professional Teaching License is issued to candidates who hold a Class 2 license, master’s degree, and three years of teaching experience.
The same application is used regardless of the class of teacher license you apply for (1, 2, or 3).
Make sure to complete the application and sign it in the presence of a notary public. Along with the application, you must send:
- Official transcripts from every college and university you attended
- Your college must complete the Institutional Recommendation Form and mail it in
- Application fees
Fingerprint/background check information – must be requested from your local law enforcement agency. Complete the fingerprint card they provide to you and mail the completed card, along with a check for $29.25 payable to the Montana Department of Justice, to Montana DOJ, P.O. Box 201403, Helena, MT 59620-1403. If you do not receive a response from the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI), your background check/fingerprints have cleared. If a problem is encountered, you will be notified of this as well.
Mail your application and documentation to Montana Office of Public Instruction, Attn: Educator Licensure, P.O. Box 202501, Helena, MT 59620-2501
Step 3. Maintain and Upgrade Your Montana Teaching License
Your Class 2 Standard Teaching License in Montana is valid for five years. To renew it, you must file the Application to Renew a Class 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 or 8 Montana Educator License or renew online via this link.
Before renewal, you must have completed college credits and OPI renewal units from approved providers, including
- 3 semester hours of college credits and 15 OPI renewal units, OR
- 4 semester hours of college credits, OR
- 4 quarter hours of college credits and 20 OPI renewal units, OR
- 5 quarter hours of college credits and 10 OPI renewal units, OR
- 6 quarter hours of college credits
College credits must be earned at regionally accredited institutions. You must send college transcripts verifying these credits directly to OPI. All OPI renewal units must be obtained from approved providers and must meet these requirements.
Graduate Studies in ESL
Getting a master’s degree can help you to move up to a Class 1: Professional Teaching License in Montana. As mentioned before, this requires holding a Class 2: Standard Teaching License, a master’s degree, and three years of teaching experience.
Consider graduate degree options such as the following that are available in Montana:
- Master of Arts in Linguistics: Concentration in English as a Second Language
- Master in Teaching English as a Second Language
- Master of Arts in TESOL
- Master of Arts in Teaching – TESOL concentration