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.

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.

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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
Saint Joseph's University Offers an English as a Second Language Certificate

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 get that valuable ESL credential on your teaching certificate.

Follow these steps to learn how to become an ESL teacher in Colorado:

#1 ButtonComplete an Approved Educator Preparation Program to Become an ESL Teacher in Colorado
#2 ButtonTake and Pass the Appropriate Content Examinations
#3 ButtonApply for an Initial Teaching License or Endorsement
#4 ButtonApply for a Professional Teaching License
#5 ButtonLearn More About Working as an ESL Teacher in Colorado

 


 

Step 1. Complete an Approved Educator Preparation Program to Become an ESL Teacher in Colorado

According to the Colorado Department of Education, English Language Learners (ELLs) in Colorado are selected and evaluated through a five-step process, according to Colorado English Language Proficiency (CELP) standards.

The five-step process involves:

  • Administering accommodations during instruction and assessment
  • Evaluating and improving accommodation use
  • Setting expectations that ELLs meet grade-level academic content standards
  • Learning about accommodations for instruction and assessment of individual students
  • Selecting accommodations for instruction and assessment of individual students

CELP standards are supported by the Colorado Department of Education, which recognizes that all students must understand academic language so as to master the Colorado Academic Standards. The Standards are essential for preparing students in Colorado to become educated and productive citizens who are able to succeed in a globally competitive workforce.

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The most streamlined path to becoming an ESL teacher in Colorado is through a state-approved approved educator preparation program. These programs are available at the undergraduate or graduate level and includes all components necessary for initial licensure as an ESL teacher.

There are preparation programs in Colorado through a number of institutions of higher learning that meet this requirement, including:

  • B.A. in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
  • B.A. in Elementary Education with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education Endorsement

You may also choose to complete an approved teacher preparation program in elementary education or English/Language Arts (in secondary education) and then choose a minor, concentration, or specialization in TESOL.

Current Teachers Adding an ESL Endorsement

If you are a currently licensed educator in Colorado, you can complete a TESOL master’s degree or graduate certificate program that results in a second endorsement to your teaching certificate. Examples include:

  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, add-on endorsement
  • Post-baccalaureate endorsement, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (endorsement) within an M.A. in English as a Second Language
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (endorsement) within an M.A. in Education-Social, Multicultural, and Bilingual Foundations
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (endorsement) within an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Bilingual Education Specialist (endorsement) within an M.A. in Education-Social, Multicultural, and Bilingual Foundations
  • Special Education Generalist (endorsement) within a Master of Arts in Education-Social, Multicultural, and Bilingual Foundations
  • Special Education Specialist (endorsement) within a Masters of Education-Social, Multicultural, and Bilingual Foundations
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (endorsement) within an M.A.T. in Education

Note: You may also apply for the K-12 endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education if you complete a specific course of study that includes at least 24 semester hours of coursework (3 semester hours in each) from an accredited institution.

Alternative Licensure Program

If you have professional experience working in a field related to English language acquisition, you may apply for the Alternative Licensure Program. This program allows you to serve in a full-time teaching position while completing the 225 hours of instruction required by the Colorado Department of Education for initial licensure.

You can learn more about the Alternative Licensure Program and find a list of designated agencies that participate in the program here.

 


 

Step 2. Take and Pass the Appropriate Content Examinations

If you want to become an ESL teacher and achieve an initial educator license in Colorado, you must take and pass all appropriate content examinations:

  • If you have completed a traditional teacher preparation program, you must take and pass a PRAXIS II content examination in your specific content area (elementary education or a secondary content area).
  • If you are currently licensed and have completed a program for K-12 endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, you do not need to pass a content examination.

 


 

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, which is valid for a period of 3 years.

You must apply for a primary endorsement in elementary education or a secondary content area, as the K-12 endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education can only be added as a secondary endorsement. However, if you completed an approved teacher preparation program and the specific coursework in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, you will be automatically eligible for the K-12 endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education.

You may also apply for the K-12 endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education using the online system if you are a licensed educator.

 


 

Step 4. Apply for a Professional Teaching License

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 6 semester hours of coursework.

 


 

Step 5. Learn More About Working as an ESL Teacher 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.

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant currently offers $4,000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete coursework needed to begin a career in teaching identified as a “high-needs” field which, as of 2021, includes English language acquisition. In exchange for the TEACH grant, you must serve in a PreK-12 school that serves low-income students for at least four years after you graduate.

 

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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