Delaware ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

Meteoric growth is the trending term for Delaware’s English Language Learner (ELL) community. This makes sense when you’re in a state where 1 in 11 residents are foreign-born and another 1 in 11 residents are native born but live with at least one immigrant parent.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Delaware was home to just 2,081 ELLs as of 2000. Fifteen years later, this number bloomed to 9,704, and just three years later in 2018, the total number of ELLs reached 13,164 – that’s an increase of more than six times the number of ELLs since 2000. As of 2018, ELLs in Delaware accounted for 9.7 percent of the total PreK-12 student population.

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When you have an ELL population that comprises nearly 10 percent of the total student population, chances are you have a strong demand for ESL teachers. Sure enough, as of the 2021-2022 school year, Delaware reported ESL teacher shortages in all grades (K-12) throughout the state.

Whether you’re looking to earn your initial Delaware teaching license as an ESL teacher, or your goal is to add an ESL endorsement to your existing license, your ESL credential is sure to come in handy here. More plentiful and varied professional opportunities, a larger paycheck in some cases, and the personal fulfillment that comes with teaching this unique student demographic are awaiting you as a Delaware ESL teacher!

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

#1 ButtonEarn a Degree in TEL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Delaware
#2 ButtonPass TEL Testing Requirements
#3 ButtonApply for Your Delaware Teaching License and TEL Certification
#4 ButtonConsider Maintaining and Upgrading Your Delaware Teaching License by Earning a Master’s in ESL
#5 ButtonLearn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Delaware



Step 1. Earn a Degree in TEL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Delaware

In Delaware, you may hold a primary or secondary certification as a Teacher of English Learners (TEL), K-12 as part of your educator license.

If you’ve never held a bachelor’s degree before, learning how to become an ESL teacher involves completing a bachelor’s or master’s in ESL within a Delaware Department of Education approved preparation program.

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You can choose to major in and earn a primary ESL certification in Delaware, or you can choose to major in elementary education or in secondary education subject like English, linguistics or communications and then minor in TEL.

The University of Delaware has a TESL 4+1 initial certification program for undergraduate English majors that results in a BA in English after four years and an MA in TESOL after the end of the fifth years.

Delaware State University offers a TESL minor for students interested in majoring in (and becoming certified in) elementary education or a single subject at the secondary level and then earning a secondary certification in TEL.

Already a Delaware certified teacher and want to a secondary certification in TEL?

Delaware requires just 15 credits in ESL to earn a secondary certification in TEL, and there are a number of graduate certificate programs and master’s degree programs that contain the required coursework:

  • Methods of Teaching English as a Second Language
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Teaching Literacy for English Learners
  • Second Language Testing
  • Structure of the English Language

For example, Wilmington University offers a graduate certificate in ESOL Literacy, while the University of Delaware offers an MA in TESL designed specifically for current Delaware teachers. This program is offered as part of their ACE Initiative.

Already have a bachelor’s in another field?

If you already hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in a critical-needs area (like ESL) and pass the Praxis I tests (see below), you may qualify for the DDOE’s alternative certification pathway.

This will involve professional development courses at an approved institution. This program will usually be shorter and more intensive than traditional ESOL teacher training. At the end of the program, you will qualify for a Standard Teaching License and Certificate in TEL in Delaware.

Your bachelor’s degree in another field can also qualify you for a master’s degree program leading to an initial teaching license.

You’ll find that many programs offering bachelor’s degrees leading to initial teacher certification also offer master’s programs that include all coursework and practical learning experiences necessary to become a certified teacher in Delaware.



Step 2. Pass TEL Testing Requirements

When you are seeking your initial teaching license in Delaware, you must pass basic and subject matter tests, administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Basic Testing

The basic tests, also known as the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), consist of the following:

Delaware may give you an exemption from taking the Praxis I tests if you previously received these scores on the following assessments:

  • Core Battery Communication Skills Test
    • Writing – 670
  • Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
    • Before April 1995 – 480 Verbal and 520 Math
    • After April 1995 – 560 Verbal and 540 Math
  • GRE Revised General Test
    • 152 Verbal and 145 Quantitative
  • GRE (Graduate Record Exam)
    • 490 Verbal and 490 Quantitative

Subject Matter Testing

You must also pass the following two tests to become certified in TEL in Delaware:



Step 3. Apply for Your Delaware Teaching License and TEL Certification

Once you have fulfilled the above qualifications, you’ll apply for your Initial License and at least one Standard Certificate. You’ll apply thorough their online DEEDS system.



Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Delaware Teaching License

Delaware operates under a three-tier licensing process. Your Initial License as a Delaware teacher is valid for four years and is not renewable.

You’ll move to a renewable Continuing License after four years, provided you have:

You’ll renew your Continuing License every 5 years, provided you have completed at least 90 clock hors of approved professional development.

You’ll then qualify for an Advanced License, which is valid for up to 10 years, if you have earned National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.

Your Standard TEL certification will remain valid and does not need to be renewed. You may apply for additional teaching certifications in Delaware as long as your teacher’s license is valid. This simply involves passing the applicable Praxis II subject level examinations and completing 15 professional development hours in that subject area.

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You may also consider pursuing a master’s degree in ESL during this time. Some Delaware institutions offer master’s degrees in various ESL-related majors, such as TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), or Reading/ESOL Literacy. Receiving a graduate degree can also help you pursue an Advanced Teaching License in Delaware and qualifies you for a Graduate Level Salary Increment.



Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Delaware

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


Elementary School

Early Career (25th percentile): $51,950
Median: $65,310
Experienced (90th percentile): $92,740


Middle School

Early Career (25th percentile): $52,150
Median: $64,920
Experienced (90th percentile): $84,830


High School

Early Career (25th percentile): $56,130
Median: $68,360
Experienced (90th percentile): $89,200


Your salary as an ESL teacher will be based largely upon your education and experience. However, holding the ESOL credential may qualify you for signing bonuses, annual stipends, and other financial incentives if you land a job in a region or school district that identifies ESL as a teacher shortage area.

You may also find a nice selection of grants and scholarships available to you while you complete your ESL 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.

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