The number of Vermont public school students classified as English language learners (ELL) grew by 114 percent over the decade leading up to the 2008 school year. By the end of the 2012 school year there were nearly 1,500 ELL students in Vermont. As highlighted by these statistics, ESL teachers are playing an increasingly important role in the state. These professionals provide ELL students the instruction needed to gain equal access to the opportunities all students in the state should experience.
The ESL licensing regulations are developed and maintained by the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators. Once you have met these qualifications you will submit your application for licensure to the Vermont Agency for Education’s Office of Educator Licensing. To become a licensed ESL teacher you will need to meet the following TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification requirements:
|Earn a Bachelor’s Degree at Minimum in TESOL|
|Navigate Vermont’s ESL Testing Requirements|
|Apply for a Vermont ESL Teaching License|
|Renew Your ESL Teaching License|
Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree at Minimum in TESOL
The first major achievement to become an ESL teacher in Vermont is earning at least a bachelor’s degree from a program that includes an educator preparation component and a student teaching assignment or practicum in an ESL classroom.
Educator preparation programs are offered according to grade levels and subject areas. This means you have the following choices for educator preparation programs in ESL:
- ESL for grades pre K-6
- ESL for grades 7-12
- ESL for grades pre K-12
If you already have a bachelor’s degree you will still need to complete an ESL educator preparation program, and you have several options for how to do this:
- Complete an ESL educator preparation program as post-baccalaureate study
- Complete an ESL educator preparation program in combination with a master’s degree, such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL
- Complete a Peer Review program that will evaluate your eligibility to become an ESL teacher based on your academic history and life experiences. You may find the Peer Review Handbook useful if you are considering this option.
Required ESL Academic Courses
Your ESL educator preparation program will cover these required topics if you are qualifying for a teaching license based on this traditional route. If you are adding ESL as an additional endorsement to an existing license, completing a Peer Review program, or are applying for out-of-state reciprocity you will need to have taken courses that pertain to the following subjects:
- Linguistics and language acquisition
- Linguistic structures of English
- First- and second-language acquisition theories for differing age levels
- Literacy development and socio-linguistic competence
- Linguistic and cultural diversity
- Process of acculturation and its impact on ESL students
- Cultural bias and stereotyping
- ESL assessments
- Procedures and processes for evaluating the English language proficiency of ESL students
- ESL teaching methodology and curriculum development
- Instructional approaches, techniques, and methods of teaching English
- Development of listening, reading, writing, speaking, and cognitive skills in English
- Ways to prepare ESL students for meaningful and full participation in their grade-level classroom
- ESL program planning, consultation, and coordination
- History and philosophy of various ESL program models
- Federal and state laws and requirements pertaining to ESL students and English language learners
Bilingual Education Endorsement
Many ESL teachers also choose to earn the related Bilingual Education endorsement. If you are studying a foreign language it is useful to keep in mind the top five native languages of Vermont ESL students. You can also find courses in these subjects in programs offering TESOL certification in Vermont:
In general Vermont recognizes reciprocity with ESL professionals from other states. You are eligible for an equivalent Vermont teaching license if you fall into one of these categories:
- You completed an ESL degree and teacher preparation program outside of Vermont that was approved for ESL licensure in your home state
- You are a licensed ESL teacher in your home state
- You hold National Board Certification in English as a New Language – this is offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) at two levels for ESL teachers:
- Your academic transcripts are judged to be qualifying for an ESL license by the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators
Step 2. Navigate Vermont’s ESL Testing Requirements
The ESL teacher job description in Vermont states that all teachers must be proven and qualified individuals. Proving your ESL teaching credentials is accomplished by passing the following two required tests, both administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS):
- Core Academic Skills for Educators
- English to Speakers of Other Language
The Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE) test is used to ensure that all teachers across Vermont have basic skills in areas that have been identified as essential for effective communication and teaching. The test is divided into three subject sub-tests that can be taken separately or together at once:
The English to Speakers of Other Languages exam assesses your specific skills in the field of ESL. You will have two hours to complete this test, which is comprised of questions taken from the following subject areas:
- Listening portion where you will wear earphones to answer questions regarding pronunciation, oral grammar, and oral vocabulary
- Foundations of language learning and linguistics
- ESL planning, implementation, and the management of instruction
- Choosing and evaluating ESL assessments
- Cultural and professional aspects of being an ESL teacher
You will take the same ESL test regardless of the grade levels for which your teaching license is valid. A passing score is considered to be 149, and your final score will automatically be reported to the Office of Educator Licensing if you take this test in Vermont.
Step 3. Apply for a Vermont ESL Teaching License
When you have completed the requirements up to this step you will be ready to apply for a Vermont teaching license with an endorsement in ESL. To do this you must fill out an application packet for an initial license. The teacher endorsement code for English as a Second Language is 40.
Along with your app packet you will need to include official, unopened college transcripts from the school where you completed your degree and educator preparation program, as well as an updated résumé. Upon successful graduation from your educator preparation program you will have been issued a Recommendation for Licensure, and you should also submit this with your application. Once you have these items assembled and complete, send them to:
Office of Educator Licensing
Vermont Agency of Education
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641
You will need to take one final step before you can receive your license, and that is being fingerprinted to complete a criminal background check. Once you have done this and your application is successful you will receive your teaching license. At this point you can start searching for ESL jobs in Vermont through the Agency of Education’s careers website.
As you research the application requirements for ESL teachers, keep in mind that these professionals are also sometimes referred to as teachers for English Language Learners (ELL) or ELL teachers.
Adding an ESL Endorsement
If you are already a licensed teacher in Vermont and want to add an ESL endorsement you will need to complete the following process:
- Complete at least 18 credits of coursework in ESL with at least a C grade average
- Demonstrate that you meet ESL knowledge and performance standards, such as by passing the English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam sponsored by ETS
You may also add an ESL endorsement based on the Peer Review process.
Step 4. Renew Your ESL Teaching License
The first license you earn is a Level 1 Professional Educator’s License. This is valid for three years, and to renew your license you must complete 45 hours of learning or professional development that advances your knowledge in the field of ESL. You can complete relevant college courses at a rate of one credit being equal to 15 hours. Once you have completed this renewal requirement you will also be one step closer to being eligible to upgrade to a Level 2 license.
To move up to a Level 2 license you will need to earn the 45 hours of professional education or development plus:
- Be recommended by school officials for the upgrade to Level 2
- Have at least three years of ESL teaching experience
- Develop an Individual Professional Learning Plan (IPLP) with three identified goals for how you plan to improve as an ESL teacher.
One of the ways you can renew and upgrade your ESL teaching certificate is by earning college credits. As these accumulate you may find it advantageous to earn a master’s degree. Having this credential can offer several benefits including increased professional responsibility and heightened student achievement.
You can find additional opportunities for employment, professional development activities, and news in the ESL field through organizations such as the Northern New England Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages – NNETESOL.