In West Virginia, an ESL endorsement is only available as an add-on for teachers already certified in standard content area. Here are the steps you need to take to become an ESL teacher in West Virginia:
|Obtain Your West Virginia Teacher’s License|
|Take the Coursework Your ESL Endorsement|
|Apply for Your ESL Endorsement|
|Renew Your West Virginia License Through Professional Development|
The number of public school students in West Virginia enrolled in programs for English language learners (ELLs) nearly doubled in the six years leading up to the 2011-12 school year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 1,914 students were enrolled in ELL programs that year. In 2009, the top four foreign languages that students spoke were Spanish, Vietnamese, French, and German.
English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers help these students become proficient in English, so they can succeed in academic content areas. ESL teachers in West Virginia frequently work as consultative teachers and assist other teachers in modifying their curricula to teach ELLs.
Step 1. Obtain Your West Virginia Teacher’s License
Your first step to becoming an ESL teacher is to get a West Virginia teacher’s license. You must have at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school. The standard way to become a teacher in West Virginia is to enroll in an approved teacher preparation program and get an education degree. You will have to choose between elementary and secondary education, since your license is specific to grade levels.
If you plan on becoming an ESL teacher, you may want to take language arts classes such as linguistics to prepare for your future ESL training. You would also be well advised to take classes to master a foreign language such as Spanish or French, so you can communicate more easily with your students.
You will have to pass the appropriate Praxis exams for your area of certification. West Virginia requires these exams:
- PPST (Pre-professional skills test)
- Praxis II in your content area
- Principles of Learning and Teaching
After you have passed your exams, you will have to submit your fingerprints to undergo a criminal background check by both the FBI and the West Virginia State Police. You will then be qualified for an Initial Professional Teaching Certificate that is valid for three years.
Step 2. Take the Coursework for Your ESL Endorsement
You can add an ESL endorsement if you are a licensed elementary or secondary school teacher. Two West Virginia schools offer you the opportunity to enroll in TESOL (teaching English as a second language program) certification programs. In both cases, you will have to take graduate level ESL coursework.
One of the programs offers 21 hours of coursework that leads to a Graduate Certificate in TESOL. This program does not lead to a degree, but it meets the state’s standards to be able to add an ESL endorsement to your license. You will have to take these courses to get your certificate:
- Applications software in the classroom curriculum area
- Intercultural communication
- Linguistics for ESL
- Methods and materials for ESL: language development
- Methods and materials for ESL: literacy acquisition
- Second Language Acquisition
The final course in this certification program will be a practicum to provide you with the teaching experience required for you to get your endorsement.
Your other option for ESL endorsement education in West Virginia is a Master of Arts program in TESOL. While many of its graduates teach in the public schools, this program also provides training in English as a foreign language (EFL). Thus, other graduates teach English overseas. This is a fruitful area for jobs, since many universities and businesses abroad seek teachers with this specialized training.
This intensive 53 hour program offers the following courses:
- American culture
- Applied linguistics
- Discourse analysis
- ESL linguistics
- ESL materials and syllabus design
- ESL methods
- ESL phonetics
- ESL theory
- Language assessment
- Language topology
- Second language writing
- Research methods
You will have the opportunity to interact with a variety of non-native English speakers through the university’s Intensive English Program (IEP). This provides opportunities to observe in the classroom, tutor students, and have conversation partners in other languages.
Step 3. Apply for Your ESL Endorsement
Once you have completed your ESL coursework and practicum, you can apply for your ESL endorsement. Your endorsement code is 1050. West Virginia does not require any standardized testing in this field. Your qualifications for an ESL endorsement depend on your coursework and practicum.
Before you can apply for your endorsement, you will need to forward your application to the appropriate representative at your school. He or she will verify that you have completed the program and your supervised practicum.
If you are currently employed in a West Virginia school system, you should have your school send the application to your Superintendent, since he or she also has to sign your endorsement application. You must submit your official transcripts with the application.
Step 4. Renew Your West Virginia License Through Professional Development
Professional development in your field will help you to succeed as a teacher. The West Virginia Department of Education offers several toolkits on its website for ESL resources. These include:
- Educating elementary limited English proficient (LEP) students
- Educating secondary LEP students
- Connecting ESL best practices.
Another good source of information is WVTESOL—the state’s professional TESOL organization.
You will have to advance your professional knowledge to be able to renew your teacher’s license. If you under 60 years old, you will have to demonstrate that you took additional courses to be able to renew your license. Taking the coursework for your ESL endorsement counts towards your renewal requirements. You can meet the requirements for your renewal in one of two ways:
- Be able to verify that you have a salary classification of a master’s degree plus 30 additional hours
- Take three semester credit hours related to one of these topics:
- The public school program
- Improving instruction through the use of technology
Your coursework must meet several requirements for you to use them towards your renewal:
- Taken at an accredited institution
- A GPA of at least 3.0
- Be completed after your certificate date
- Be completed within five years of your renewal application
West Virginia ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives
West Virginia has) experienced a steady increase of English Language Learners (ELLs throughout its public school system. In fact, between 1997-98 and 2007-08, West Virginia’s student enrollment of ELLs increased by more than 153 percent, according to the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA).
In the 2009-10 school year, West Virginia reported 1,560 ELLs; in the 2011-12 school year, this number increased to 1,914, 51.8 percent of whom spoke Spanish as their primary language. Other ELLs in the state spoke Chinese (10.7 percent), Arabic (7.6 percent), and Vietnamese (4.4 percent).
The West Virginia Department of Education offers educators the option of adding an ESL endorsement to their primary teaching certification. Licensed educators in West Virginia who want to add an ESL endorsement to their certificate may choose to complete a graduate certificate in ESL, an M.A. in Elementary or Secondary Education with an emphasis in ESL, or an ESL endorsement program. Curriculum within an ESL endorsement program in West Virginia must include:
- Applications Software in the Classroom Curriculum area
- Second Language Acquisition
- Linguistics for ESL
- Intercultural Communication
- ESL Language Development
- ESL Literacy Acquisition
National Education Association reported an average starting salary for West Virginia teachers, including those certified in ESL, was $32,435.
The National Center for Educational Statistics also reported that, during the 2007-08 school year, the lowest average salary for West Virginia teachers was $29,500, while the highest average salary was $53,500. As of the 2007-08 school year, was just one of 11 states that offered an incentive to teachers who earned their ESL endorsement.