Although Connecticut may not be the first state to come to mind when considering states with strong international populations, this state does, in fact, enjoy the diversity and economic vitality that comes with a larger immigrant population. According to the American Immigration Council, as of 2018, about 15 percent of all Connecticut residents were immigrants and another 16 percent of the population were native-born Americans with at least one immigrant parent.
This sizable immigrant population, of course, translates into a steadily growing population of PreK-12 students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Connecticut’s immigrant student population has nearly doubled in size from 2000 to 2018, growing from 20,499 English Language Learners (ELLs) in 2000 to 40,200 ELLs in 2018. Connecticut’s ELLs now account for nearly 8 percent of the total student population.
With this kind of meteoric growth among ELLs, it’s no surprise that the ESL teachers remain an in-demand profession throughout the state. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Connecticut reported ESL teacher shortage areas in all grades (PreK-12) during the 2021-2022 school year.
Now may be a fantastic time to earn initial ESL certification or add an ESL endorsement to your existing certificate. From increased and more varied professional opportunities to opportunities to earn a bigger paycheck, there are plenty of reasons to become an ESL teacher in Connecticut.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL certification (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and become an ESL teacher in Connecticut:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in TESOL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Connecticut
In Connecticut, learning how to become an ESL teacher involves choosing whether earning an initial teaching certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) PK–12 or earning an initial educator certificate in elementary education, special education, or in a secondary subject area and then earning a TESOL cross-endorsement is right for you.
However, you’ll need to meet significant education requirements to qualify for your TESOL certificate with your initial license. The Connecticut State Board of Education requires the following for an initial TESOL teaching certificate:
- Bachelor’s degree from an approved college or university
- At least 39 semester hours of credit in general academic courses in five of the six areas:
- Natural sciences
- Social studies
- Foreign language
- Fine arts
- The completion of a subject-area major consisting of one of the following:
- A major in TESOL through an approved college or university
- At least 30 semester hours of credit in TESOL and at least 9 semester hours of credit in bilingualism, a foreign language, or literacy development
- At least 30 semester hours of credit in professional education in a planned program of study in:
- Foundations of education
- Educational psychology
- Curriculum and methods of teaching (totaling at least 6 semester hours each in TESOL at the elementary and secondary level)
- At least 36 clock hours of study in special education
Already have a bachelor’s degree in another field?
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, earning an initial TESOL teaching certificate in Connecticut through a master’s degree program may be a good fit for you. There is a nice selection of master’s degree programs that will provide you with the required education and related practical experiences to become licensed as a TESOL educator.
Both Fairfield University and Central Connecticut State University offer master’s in ESL that satisfy the requirements for an initial TESOL teaching certificate in Connecticut, and both require a bachelor’s degree for admission.
Otherwise, you may want to consider earning an initial teaching certificate in elementary education, special education, or in a single subject area in secondary education through a bachelor’s degree that’s part of an approved educator preparation program and then completing the required coursework to earn a cross-endorsement in TESOL.
Approved educator preparation programs include all of the necessary pedagogical and experiential requirements for an initial teaching certificate. Once you earn your initial teaching certificate in Connecticut, you can then work towards completing the necessary coursework for a TESOL cross-endorsement. If this sounds like the right path for you, keep reading:
Already a Connecticut certified teacher and want to add a TESOL cross-endorsement?
If you already hold a Connecticut teaching certificate, you can satisfy the required coursework to earn a TESOL cross-endorsement by completing a post-baccalaureate certificate, graduate certificate, or master’s degree in TESOL.
To earn a TESOL cross-endorsement, you’ll need to complete at least 30 semester hours of TESOL coursework in the following:
- English syntax and English composition
- Language theory
- Culture and intergroup relations
- Linguistics and academic assessment of limited English proficient students
- Curriculum and methods of teaching English as a second language
For example, Fairfield University offers both a Six-Year Certificate and an MA degree leading to a cross-endorsement in TESOL and elementary or secondary bilingual education.
The Connecticut Department of Education maintains a list of approved courses that meet the TESOL cross-endorsement requirements.
You may also qualify for the Alternate Route to Certification for Teachers of English Learners (ARCTEL) program, which was developed to address the statewide shortage of qualified, certified PreK-12 bilingual and TESOL educators. Completion of this program results in a cross-endorsement in TESOL and/or bilingual. To qualify for the ARCTEL program, you must hold a valid CT teaching certificate and be currently employed by a PreK-12 school during the program of study.
Step 2. Pass the Appropriate Praxis Exams
If you complete a master’s program leading to an initial TESOL teaching certificate, you’ll need to take and pass the Praxis II – English to Speakers of Other Languages exam.
This examination includes the following areas of assessment:
- Foundations of Linguistics 18%
- Foundations of Language Learning 22%
- Planning and Implementing Instruction 23%
- Assessment and Evaluation 15%
- Culture 11%
- Professionalism and Advocacy 11%
If you choose to complete a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, special education, or in a secondary subject, you’ll need to pass the appropriate Praxis exams to earn an initial teaching certificate.
Then, once you earn your initial teaching certificate and complete the required TESOL coursework, you’ll need to take and pass the Praxis II – English to Speakers of Other Languages exam to add the TESOL cross-endorsement to your Connecticut teacher certificate.
Step 3. Apply for Your Initial Teaching Certificate
All candidates for initial educator certification in Connecticut must first register with the Connecticut Educator Certification System (CECS). Upon successfully registering with the CECS, you may apply for your initial educator certificate.
If you have any questions regarding the application process or using the CECS system, you may contact the Bureau of Educator Standards and Certification at 1-860-713-6969 or at email@example.com.
Step 4. Achieve a Provisional and Professional Teaching Certificate
Initial educator certificates in Connecticut are valid for a period of three years, although you can apply for a provisional certificate as soon as you have acquired 10 months of teaching experience under your initial certificate.
Your provisional teaching certificate is valid for up to 8 years. During this time, you must complete the following to earn a Connecticut’s professional educator certificate:
- At least 30 school months of educator experience
- A Teacher Education and Mentoring Program (TEAM)
Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Connecticut
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for educators in Connecticut:
Early Career (25th percentile): $62,540
Experienced (90th percentile): $106,060
Early Career (25th percentile): $64,150
Experienced (90th percentile): $108,130
Early Career (25th percentile): $60,550
Experienced (90th percentile): $106,950
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Connecticut in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Bridgeport-Stanford-Norwalk (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $67,300
Experienced (90th percentile): $122,780
Hartford (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $63,230
Experienced (90th percentile): $106,330
New Haven (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $60,360
Experienced (90th percentile): $105,630
Your earning potential as an ESL teacher in Connecticut, like your PreK-12 colleagues, will largely rely on your education and experience. However, you may qualify for signing bonuses, stipends, and other financial incentives if you teach in an area or school district that identifies ESL as a teacher shortage area. You may also qualify for grants or scholarships as you pursue your TESOL education.
Connecticut ESL teachers may find a wealth of resources through professional organizations like the ConnTESOL Organization, which supports Connecticut ESL teachers and the Multistate Association for Bilingual Education, Northeast (MABE), which serves as an advocate for quality dual language education.
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.