If the rise in immigration in Georgia is front page news, then growth among English Language Learners (ELLs) here is undoubtedly the headline. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of ELLs in Georgia’s PreK-12 school system has more than doubled since 2000.
In 2000, Georgia reported about 54,000 ELLs. By 2018, this number had increased to nearly 120,000. As of 2018, ELLs comprised about 7 percent of the total student population in Georgia. This kind of meteoric growth means exciting professional opportunities for Georgia educators who have the coveted ESL credential on their teaching certificate.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL certification (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and become an ESL teacher in Georgia:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in ESOL (K-12) and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Georgia
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) offers both a primary certificate and an endorsement in ESOL, so learning how to become an ESL teacher here involves deciding whether to major in ESOL and earn a primary certificate in the same name, or major in elementary education, special education, or in a single subject at the secondary level (most ESL teachers choose English or language arts) and complete a minor, track, or concentration in ESOL.
Whichever path you choose, you’ll want to complete a bachelor’s or master’s in ESL part of a GaPSC approved educator preparation program.
Just a few programs leading to primary ESL certification are available in Georgia. For example, Georgia State University offers a MAT in Reading, Language, and Literacy which, combined with the ESOL program, results in initial certification in ESOL and a reading endorsement.
Programs in elementary education or secondary education that include an ESOL track, concentration, or minor are plentiful in Georgia and tend to be the most streamlined route to becoming an ESOL teacher. For example, the University of Georgia, Brenau University, and Georgia Southern University are just some of the schools that offer ESOL coursework leading to an ESOL endorsement for education majors.
Already a Georgia certified teacher and want to add an ESOL endorsement?
If you already hold a teaching certificate in Georgia and want to add an ESOL endorsement, you can complete a graduate certificate in ESOL or an ESOL master’s degree. These programs are widely available in Georgia.
For example, Valdosta State University offers a MAT in ESOL, a 36-hour program designed for both pre-service and certified Georgia educators who want to earn either an initial certification or endorsement in ESOL.
Aspiring educators in Georgia who participate in field experiences or student teaching must hold a Pre-Service Certificate from the GaPSC. The university or college where you’re completing your teacher preparation program will request the Pre-Service Certificate from the GaPSC on your behalf. You can learn more about earning the Pre-Service Certificate here.
Have a bachelor’s in another field?
If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to transition to the teaching field to teach ESOL, you can complete a Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GATAPP) program through an approved provider. The GATAPP is generally a two-year program that will prepare you for classroom teaching in ESL. You will need to submit an application through one of Georgia’s 23 approved GATAPP providers.
Once you have gained admission, you’ll begin by studying an intensive pedagogical segment that focuses on developing ESL teaching skills. This is followed by classroom placement as an ESL teacher, where you will work with the mentoring and guidance of an experienced team of professionals.
Your bachelor’s degree in another field may also qualify you to complete a master’s degree leading to initial teacher licensure. Many schools that offer bachelor’s level teacher preparation programs also offer these programs at the master’s level for career changers like you.
Step 2. Pass the Required GACE Assessments
You’ll need to pass the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) ESOL content assessment before you can apply for your initial teaching certificate, which is referred to as an Induction Certificate.
The ESOL assessment covers your specific knowledge relating to the field of ESL and is divided into two subtests that are each 2.5 hours in length:
- Test I – evaluates the subjects of language, culture, and professionalism, including a listening segment as part of the language portion
- Test II – implementing, managing, and planning classroom instruction and assessment
You must create a MYPSC account to register to take the GACE assessment. Your program provider will notify you when you’re eligible to take the ESOL content exam. Learn more about registering and taking the GACE assessment here.
Step 3. Apply for a Georgia Induction Certificate
Georgia operates on a tiered licensing system. Once you graduate from an approved educator preparation program and pass the required exams, you’ll apply to transition from a Pre-Service Certificate to a 5-year Induction Certificate.
You’ll create and apply for an induction certificate by creating a MyPSC account. You’ll complete the application and upload all necessary documents to your MYPSC account.
Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Georgia Teaching Certificate
The Induction Certificate is not renewable. You’ll apply for a Professional Certificate once you’ve completed three years of successful educator experience (within a five-year timeframe). You can apply for your Professional Certificate before the expiration of your five-year Induction Certificate.
As of 2018, Professional Certificates are renewed by completing an individualized Professional Learning Plan or Professional Learning Goal that you’ll coordinate with your supervisor and employing LUA. If you’re employed in the Georgia public school system, your certificate will be renewed electronically by your employing system.
Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Georgia
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for educators in Georgia:
Early Career (25th percentile): $49,730
Experienced (90th percentile): $82,040
Early Career (25th percentile): $48,960
Experienced (90th percentile): $83,560
Early Career (25th percentile): $50,090
Experienced (90th percentile): $82,470
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Georgia in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Atlanta (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $51,510
Experienced (90th percentile): $82,640
Augusta (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $42,450
Experienced (90th percentile): $76,030
Athens (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $46,920
Experienced (90th percentile): $80,190
Your salary as a Georgia ESL teacher will largely depend on your education and experience level. However, ESL teaching jobs may come with signing bonuses, annual stipends, or other financial perks in certain regions or school districts where ESL is identified as a high-needs or teacher shortage area.
Scholarships and grants may also be available to help you finance the cost of earning your ESL education.
You can also learn more about options for funding your education through the Financial Assistance for Prospective Educators page of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
Learn about the latest job openings and job fairs for ESL teachers through TeachGeorgia.
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.