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 an initial Connecticut teaching certificate in ESL 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.
Follow these steps to learn how to become an ESL teacher in Connecticut:
Step 1. Complete a State-Approved Educator Preparation Program to Become an ESL Teacher in Connecticut
The Connecticut State Board of Education (CSDE) is responsible for building high-quality, comprehensive, and coordinated English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual education programs for English Language Learners (ELLs) in the state. The Board also ensures that all Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and bilingual teachers, K-12, hold the appropriate certificate for their assignment.
ESL programs in Connecticut, which are taught exclusively in English, strive to help ELLs acquire a level of English proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing that allows them to master the same content and meet the same academic performance standards as other students whose first language is English. The goals of ESL programs enable ELLs to:
- Progress in content-area achievement and English academic proficiency
- Meet the English mastery standard on the annual assessment
- Function successfully in a mainstream program
To become an ESL teacher in Connecticut, you’ll need to pursue an approved pathway to certification, the most streamlined of which involves completing a State-approved educator preparation program. These traditional preparation programs include an undergraduate or graduate degree and all necessary components to become a certified educator in Connecticut, including pedagogy courses and a student teaching experience.
You may choose to focus your educator preparation program in TESOL, although you’ll find more options if you choose a program in elementary education or, at the secondary level, English or language arts and then choose TESOL as a concentration, focus, or endorsement.
Note that in Connecticut, you’ll need to pass the PRAXIS I, Core Academic Skills for Educators examination (or obtain a waiver from the Connecticut State Department of Education based on your SAT, ACT, GRE or PAA scores) before being accepted into a state-approved teacher preparation program.
You may also qualify for an ESL endorsement if you provide proof of the completion of the following:
- At least 24 semester hours of credit in the English language, including courses in the history of the English language, British and American literature, English syntax, and English composition
- At least 30 semester hours of credit in professional education through an approved and planned program of study, to include:
- Educational psychology and characteristics of learners
- Curriculum and methods of teaching, including at least 15 semester hours of credit in TESOL
- Assessment of learning, including preparation in principles and purposes of assessment instruments, as found in the general curriculum and using assessment data to monitor progress and differentiate instruction for students with diverse learning needs
- A planned sequence of varied field experiences in elementary and secondary school settings and with students who represent a diversity of cultural and linguistic backgrounds and with a diversity of learning needs (a practicum in elementary or secondary is required)
- Supervised student teaching in an elementary or secondary school setting
Alternative Preparation Program: ARC
You may also qualify for certification in Connecticut through the Connecticut’s Alternate Route to Certification Program (ARC), which is designed for mid-career adults who want to switch to a career in education.
To qualify for the ARC program, you must: possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a major closely related to English as a Second Language; achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 in your undergraduate program or at least 24 semester hours of graduate work; and pass all sections of the PRAXIS I examinations and PRAXIS II appropriate subject area examinations (See Step 2).
The ARC program consists of subject-based methods classes and training in areas such as classroom management, assessment of student learning, English language learners, and special education. All ARC students also observe classrooms and take part in a student teaching experience.
Step 2. Pass the PRAXIS II Examination
One you’ve completed a recognized educator preparation program, you’ll need to pass the appropriate PRAXIS II content area examination. For ESL teacher candidates, this includes:
This examination includes the following areas of assessment:
- Foundations of Linguistics and Language Learning
- Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction
- Cultural and Professional Aspects of the Job
You must achieve a minimum score of 146 to pass this PRAXIS II examination.
You can learn more about PRAXIS II examination, including registering to take the exam, through the Praxis Series website.
Step 3. Apply for Certification as an ESL Educator in Connecticut
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 4. Achieve a Provisional and Professional Teaching Certificate
Initial educator certificates in Connecticut are valid for a period of three years. Upon expiration of this certificate, you are eligible to achieve a provisional certificate, which is valid for 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
- At least 30 semester hours of post-baccalaureate study (As of July 1, 2016, educators in Connecticut will be required to complete a master’s degree to earn a professional educator certificate.)
If you have not yet achieved a graduate degree in ESL, you may choose to complete a master’s program in TESOL to satisfy the conditions of the provisional certificate in Connecticut.
Step 5. Achieve Cross-Endorsement in TESOL
If you are a current Connecticut educator who wants to achieve a cross-endorsement in TESOL, you may be eligible for the Alternative Route to Certification for Teachers of English Language Learners program.
The Connecticut Department of Education has designed an Alternative Route to Certification for Teachers of English Language Learners (ARCTELL), which is a program that allows current Connecticut teachers to receive a Certificate of Completion and a cross endorsement in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, PK-12, while they continue to teach.
To be considered for admission into the ARCTELL program, you must:
- Hold a valid Connecticut teaching license
- Have worked full-time for at least 2 years under a Connecticut teaching certificate
- Be currently employed by a Connecticut school district
Some of the topics addressed in the ARCTELL program include TESOL standards, such as language, culture, planning, assessment, professionalism, and instruction. You can view detailed information on TESOL standards here.
Step 6. Learn More About Working as an ESL Teacher 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.
For example, 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.
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.