Colorado ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

A large population of Mexican immigrants has made Colorado a hot spot for English Language Learners (ELLs) in recent years. In fact, every year since 2005, the state has reported about 100,000 ELLs which, as of 2018, accounted for about 11.4 percent of Colorado’s total PreK-12 student population.

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The Master of Arts in Teaching - TESOL online program from the USC Rossier School of Education prepares you to teach students of all ages in the U.S. and internationally, gives you the option to pursue a teaching credential, and can be completed in 12 months.
Campbellsville University Offers an ESL Endorsement (P-12), M.A. in Teaching - Secondary Education, M.A. in TESOL
Liberty University Offers Undergrad Cert and B.Ed. in English as a Second Language.
Greenville University Offers a Master of Arts in Education - Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)
George Mason University Offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum and Instruction, Concentration in TESOL
Capella University offers 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 to help students adapt to new cultural environments.
St. John's University Offers an Online Ph.D. in Literacy

While Mexico accounts for the largest percentage of immigrants in Colorado (about 40 percent as of 2018), immigrants from India (5 percent), China (3 percent), and Vietnam (3 percent) also play a large part in this state’s thriving foreign-born population, according to the American Immigration Council.

And it’s this steady demographic that has made ESL teachers in Colorado a hot commodity. In fact, as of the 2021-2022 school year, the U.S. Department of Education reported ESL teacher shortages in all grades, PreK-12.

If you want to become a Colorado ESL teacher, it’s time to earn that valuable ESL certification.

These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL certification (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and become an ESL teacher in Colorado:

#1 ButtonEarn a Degree in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Colorado
#2 ButtonTake and Pass the Appropriate Content Examinations
#3 ButtonApply for an Initial Teaching License
#4 ButtonApply for a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) Endorsement
#5 ButtonApply For a Professional Teaching License and Consider Maintaining it By Earning a Master’s in ESL
#6 ButtonLearn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations and Jobs in Colorado

 


 

Step 1. Earn a Degree in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Colorado

Learning how to become an ESL teacher in Colorado involves earning an ESL endorsement on your existing teaching certificate. The ESL endorsement here is referred to as a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) Specialist endorsement (K-12).

You’ll major in elementary education or in a single subject at the secondary level (many aspiring ESL teachers choose English or language arts) and then choose an ESL minor, track or concentration.

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If you’re new to the teaching field and don’t yet have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll want to complete a bachelor’s or master’s in ESL that’s part of an approved educator preparation program, which includes all of the necessary pedagogical and hands-on learning experience needed for a teaching certificate in Colorado. You’ll want to make sure the program you choose includes the option of adding an ESL minor, track or concentration.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options in Colorado that offer this type of program. For example, the University of Northern Colorado offers a Teaching English as Second Language (TESOL) program that can be combined with any education major (about 75% of all students in this program are elementary education majors) and results in a K-12 CLDE endorsement.

 Already a Colorado certified teacher and want to add an ESL endorsement?

If you’re already a Colorado certified teacher, you can complete the required ESL coursework through a TESOL master’s degree or undergraduate/graduate certificate program that results in a second endorsement to your teaching certificate.

For example, the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs offers an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) for in-service teachers that includes 30 semester hours, with the first 24 hours applicable to the CLDE endorsement.

The 24 semester hours required to earn the CLDE endorsement include:

  • First and Second Language Acquisition
  • Literacy Development for CLS Students
  • Knowledge of English and Linguistics
  • Assessment of Language Proficiency
  • Foundations in CLD Education
  • Teaching Strategies for CLD Learners
  • CLD Field Experience
  • Knowledge of Other Languages

Pursuing a master’s degree is a great way to satisfy the required courses necessary for the CLDE endorsement, meet the professional development requirements for your professional teaching license (see step 5), and position yourself for more professional opportunities and a larger paycheck.

You may also earn the acquired hours by completing them outside of a formal program, provided they are offered through a regionally accredited college or university.

Already have a bachelor’s in another field?

If you earned a bachelor’s or higher in another field but have not completed a teacher preparation program leading to an initial Colorado teaching certificate, you may be eligible to complete an alternative teacher preparation program. To qualify for this pathway, you must:

  • Pass CBI and FBI background checks
  • Demonstrate professional competence in an approved endorsement area (either through post-secondary education or by taking and passing the appropriate content exam – see step 2)
  • Secure a classroom teaching position
  • Obtain an agreement with a state-approved college or university that offers an approved alternative teacher preparation program
  • Apply for an alternative teacher license through the Colorado Department of Education’s online system

You may also pursue a master’s degree in ESL leading to initial licensure if you have a bachelor’s in another field. In fact, many schools that offer bachelor’s level teacher preparation programs also offer programs at the master’s level. These programs include all of the necessary coursework and practical learning experiences necessary to become a certified teacher in Colorado.

 


 

Step 2. Take and Pass the Appropriate Content Examinations

Once you’ve completed the required teacher preparation program, you must take and pass the appropriate PRAXIS II content examinations (in elementary education or a secondary content area).

 


 

Step 3. Apply for an Initial Teaching License or Endorsement

Upon completion of all necessary licensing requirements, you must apply for an initial teaching license through the Colorado Department of Education’s online system. Your initial teaching license is valid for a period of 3 years.

 


 

Step 4. Apply for a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) Endorsement

The CLDE endorsement in Colorado is an added endorsement only, so you’ll only be eligible to earn this endorsement if you already have a Colorado teacher license. Once you complete the CLDE endorsement required courses, you’ll be eligible for this endorsement and can apply through the online licensing system.

 


 

Step 5. Apply For a Professional Teaching License and Consider Maintaining It By Earning a Master’s in ESL

Upon completion of a Colorado State Board of Education-approved induction program, which may be completed through Colorado school districts, charter schools, and private schools, you may apply for an Initial to Professional Teaching License.

A professional teaching license must be maintained by renewing it every 5 years, during which time you must complete at least 90 contact hours of professional development activities (6 semester hours of coursework), which can be accomplished in part by earning a master’s in ESL

 


 

Step 6. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations and Jobs in Colorado

As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for educators in Colorado:

 

Elementary School

Early Career (25th percentile): $44,420
Median: $53,250
Experienced (90th percentile): $80,270

 

Middle School

Early Career (25th percentile): $44,420
Median: $52,730
Experienced (90th percentile): $80,160

 

High School

Early Career (25th percentile): $45,480
Median: $55,270
Experienced (90th percentile): $82,510

 

BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Colorado in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:

 

Boulder (Elementary School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $54,770
Median: $68,720
Experienced (90th percentile): $95,580

 

Denver (Middle School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $46,880
Median: $56,650
Experienced (90th percentile): $83,000

 

Colorado Springs (High School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $43,480
Median: $50,190
Experienced (90th percentile): $71,080

 

While your salary as an ESL teacher in Colorado will reflect just your education and experience, you may qualify for scholarships and grants as an ESL student or for annual stipends or signing bonuses if you teach in a school district that’s labeled “hard to fill” or identifies ESL as a teacher shortage.

For example, the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education offers scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $10,000 for undergraduate and graduate students working toward a degree or certification in linguistically and culturally diverse education in a Colorado University.

May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and secondary school teachers represent state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2021.

Student population data from the National Center for Education Statistics represents English language learners (ELL) enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the fall of 2018.

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