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.
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!
Follow these steps to learn how to become an ESL teacher in Delaware:
Step 1. Complete a Delaware ESOL Teaching Degree Program
In Delaware, ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers are referred to as ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers.
Becoming an ESOL teacher in Delaware involves earning an Initial License and Standard Certificate through the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE). The Standard Certificate is issued to qualified ESOL teachers in grades K-12.
Your first step involves completing an approved bachelor’s degree program in education accredited by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The program should be designed as an initial educator program that grants a teaching certificate.
Your bachelor’s degree may be in elementary or secondary education in general, or specifically within an area such as English, linguistics or communications, as long as the initial educator component is included.
Regardless of what you major in, the DDOE requires that you complete 15 credits in professional development in the following course areas prior to receiving your initial certificate as an ESOL teacher:
- Structure of the English Language – 3 credits
- Second Language Testing – 3 credits
- Teaching Literacy for English Language Learners – 3 credits
- Second Language Acquisition – 3 credits
- Methods of Teaching English as a Second Language -3 credits
Student Teaching Experience
Student teaching is a mandatory part of your ESOL teaching degree program. It may last for one semester or longer, depending upon your program’s requirements. You may work alongside a licensed Delaware teacher, who will act as your mentor. As you work in the classroom, your mentor will offer you valuable feedback on your performance.
If you already have 91 days of full-time classroom teaching experience, this satisfies Delaware’s student teaching requirement. Additionally, if you have participated in the Teach for America program, you have satisfied the student teaching requirement.
Alternative Certification Pathways
If you already hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in a critical-needs area (of which ESOL is one), 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 ESOL in Delaware. More information on this program can be found in Step 3.
Step 2. Pass the ESOL Teacher 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).
The basic tests, also known as the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), consist of the following:
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
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 an ESOL teacher in Delaware:
- American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)– this consists of a 20 minute face-to-face (or face-to-computer, if you choose the computer-based test) interactive interview to test your abilities and skills. DDOE requires that you score at least at the Advanced Low level.
- ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT)– this is a standardized test to measure your functional writing ability. DDOE requires that you score at least at the Advanced Low level.
Step 3. Apply for Your Delaware Teaching License and ESOL Certificate
Once you have fulfilled the above qualifications, you are ready to apply for your Initial License and Standard Teaching Certificate in ESOL in Delaware. Applications are accepted online through the DDOE:
- If you just graduated or soon will graduate from an approved teaching program, use the DEEDS 3.0 system found here
- If you already hold a teaching license in another state and are applying for Delaware licensure, follow the Out-of-State Applicant Certification process
- If you have a bachelor degree but no student teaching experience and plan to complete Delaware’s alternative teaching certification application found here
You will be asked to submit documentation to the DDOE, along with your application, such as official transcripts, copies of any out-of-state teaching licenses, and the like. Once the DDOE has received your online application and all necessary documents, they will be assessed. The DDOE will send your Initial License and Standard Certificate to you by email, or will let you know if they need further documentation.
Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Delaware Teaching License
Your Initial License as a Delaware teacher is valid for three years. You will be expected to complete an in-house mentoring program during this time. You and your mentor will work on instruction, curriculum and assessment and will report your activities to the state.
Once you have completed three years of the teaching and the mentoring program, you may apply for a Continuing License, which is valid for five years. Its renewal is contingent on your completion of 90 hours of professional development every five years. You must document these activities and submit them when you renew your license.
Your Standard ESOL certificate (sometimes called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) 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.
You may also consider pursuing a master’s degree in ESL during this time. Some Delaware institutions offer Masters 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.
Step 5. Learn More About Working as an ESL Teacher in Delaware
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for educators in Delaware:
Early Career (25th percentile): $51,950
Experienced (90th percentile): $92,740
Early Career (25th percentile): $52,150
Experienced (90th percentile): $84,830
Early Career (25th percentile): $56,130
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. For example,
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 course work 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.