To learn how to become an ESL teacher in Arkansas, review these four steps:
|Complete a State-Approved Educator Preparation Program|
|Pass the Required PRAXIS Examinations|
|Apply for a Provisional and Standard Teaching License|
|Gain Credits to Qualify for an ESL Endorsement|
According to the Arkansas Department of Education, English Language Learners (ELLs) face the challenge of learning a new language while at the same time working to master academic subject matter being taught in a language they are unfamiliar with.
In the 2012-13 school year there were 34,272 ELL students throughout Arkansas’s 171 school districts. In the 2013-14 school year, this number increased to 35,497 students where were not proficient in English. The Arkansas Department of Education has identified 95 home languages other than English being spoken in homes with school-age children:
- 86 percent speak Spanish
- 5.5 percent speak Marshallese
- 1.36 percent speak Vietnamese
Data from the Arkansas Department of Education’s State Aid Notice shows that ELL enrollment has increased by 95 percent since 2005.
English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers instruct ELLs in the use of the English language. Their instruction is based on a special curriculum that usually involves little or no use of the native language. For specific school periods, ELLs are taught in classes that focus on the English language, while for the rest of the day these students are placed into an immersion program, a bilingual education program, or a mainstream classroom.
Step 1. Complete a State-Approved Educator Preparation Program
Arkansas Department of Education does not offer an approved educator preparation program in English as a Second Language.
To become an ESL teacher in Arkansas, the most obvious career path involves completing an approved educator program in elementary education or in English/Language arts at the middle childhood or secondary level.
If you already possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university (and you have passed all required examinations), you may qualify for the Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator License program, or APPEL program.
The APPEL program allows you to begin teaching while you complete all necessary components of the program, which includes the completion of: on-the-job learning; mentoring during the program; specific assessments; and instructional modules (both face-to-face and online). The APPEL program often results in a master’s degree for participants. You can read more about alternative-route master’s degree programs for teacher licensure here.
Provisional Professional Teaching License
Another route to licensure as an ESL teacher in Arkansas may be through the achievement of a Provisional Professional Teaching license, a three-year provisional license that is awarded to candidates with a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and at least three years of experience in a language/bilingual field.
To qualify for this license, you must pass all state-required examinations and possess an offer of employment from an Arkansas public school.
During the provisional licensure period, you will be required to complete at least 24 hours of pedagogy training. If you are interested in this teacher preparation pathway, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Educator Licensure at 501-682-4342 for more information.
Step 2. Pass the Required PRAXIS Examinations
The Arkansas Department of Education requires all candidates for teacher licenses in the state to take and pass all required examinations. To become an ESL teacher in Arkansas, you must complete the following:
- PRAXIS Core Academic Skills for Educators tests in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics; AND
- Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects and Principles of Learning and Teaching, Grades K-6; OR
- Middle School English Language Arts (5047); OR
- English Language Arts: Content Knowledge and Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12
You can learn more about the PRAXIS examinations in Arkansas here.
Step 3. Apply for a Provisional and Standard Teaching License
Upon completing all requirements for licensure, teacher candidates must apply for a one-year provisional license. During this time, you will work under the guidance of a certified mentor.
After you have completed this mentoring program, you may apply for a Standard Teacher License in Arkansas, which must be renewed every 5 years, upon the completion of at least 60 hours of professional development. You may either complete a renewal application or renew using the online system.
Step 4. Gain Credits to Qualify for an ESL Endorsement
To achieve ESL endorsement, you must be a currently licensed Arkansas educator, and you must successfully complete the following:
- Passing the PRAXIS examination: English to Speakers of Other Languages (5361)
- An ESL Add-on Endorsement K-12 program (There are currently 10 state-approved institutions in Arkansas.); a program must include at least 12 credit hours in the following:
- Methods and materials for teaching second languages (Teaching English as a second language)
- Second language assessment
- Second language acquisition
- Teaching people from other cultures
You must complete an Application for Educator’s License to add the ESL endorsement to your current teaching license.
Arkansas ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives
According to the Urban Institute, Arkansas had the fastest growing Latino population in the U.S. between the years 2000-2005 and the fourth fastest growing overall immigrant population during those years. Though the state’s new residents from abroad account for just about 4 percent of its overall population, Arkansas is nevertheless seeing explosive growth in the numbers of non-native English speakers that call the state home.
There is a strong demand in Arkansas for ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers, and it is only expected to grow. According to the Arkansas Department of Education, the rate of language minority students has increased by 51% in the last eight years. In order to keep up with this demand, Arkansas offers incentives to existing teachers that add an additional endorsement qualifying them to teach ESL.
According to the Arkansas Department of Education, salaries for ESL teachers in Arkansas can vary by degree level and years of experience:
- Starting salaries range from $29,244 to $43,612 with a bachelor’s degree, depending on location.
- Bachelor’s degree salaries for those with 15 plus years experience range from $35,994 to $54,431
- Starting salaries range from $33,630 to $46,708 with a master’s degree
- Salaries for those with 15 plus years of experience and a master’s range from $41,130 to $58,296
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary in Arkansas is $45,130 for experienced teachers. The rate of pay can rise to $60,440 annually with a master’s degree, several years of experience and an ESL endorsement.
Salary information for Arkansas Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers are shown in the table below. The Bureau of Labor Statistics gathered these statistics in 2013. The Bureau places ESL endorsed adult educators within this category.