Although Indiana’s foreign-born population is much smaller than neighboring Illinois, it would be a mistake to discount the positive influence that English Language Learners (ELLs) have on the economy. According to the American Immigration Council, immigrants comprise about 7 percent of all business owners in Indiana and about 13 percent of all computer and math employees.
And the number of ELLs in the state continue to grow. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported a total of 61,523 ELLs as of 2018 – that’s about 6 percent of the PreK-12 student body in Indiana and more than double the number since 2000.
With this kind of growth, it comes as little surprise that the U.S. Department of Education reported shortages among ESL teachers in all grades (PreK-12) as of the 2021-2022 school year.
Whether your plans are focused on entering the teaching profession or you’re a currently practicing teacher interested in specializing in ESL, you’ll need to make sure your Indiana teaching license includes an ESL endorsement.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL certification (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and become an ESL teacher in Indiana:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in English as a New Language Teacher (ENL) and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Indiana
To become an ESL teacher in Indiana, you must add an English as a New Language Teacher (ENL) content area to a valid instructional license. Therefore, if you’re new to the teaching field and haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree, learning how to become an ESL teacher in Indiana first includes earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in elementary education (K-6) or middle/secondary education (K-6) that’s part of an Indiana approved educator preparation program and then adding the required coursework to earn the ENL endorsement.
Many Indiana schools offer an ENL minor, track, or concentration that includes all of the necessary coursework for an ENL endorsement. For example, Indiana University Southeast offers a minor in ENL/ESL that includes the following courses:
- Methods and Materials for Teaching ESL
- Socio-Psycholinguistics Application to Reading Instruction
- Issues in Bilingual Education
- Assessment Literacy for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
Students in these programs complete a portion of their clinical practice semester in a setting with ESL students.
Already an Indiana licensed teacher and want to add an ESL endorsement?
If you are a licensed teacher, you can earn ESL certification by completing an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, or master’s in ESL. You may also simply complete the required courses outside of a formal program. While certificate programs provide a quicker route to an ENL endorsement, many teachers choose a master’s degree to broaden their professional opportunities and increase their earning potential.
Indiana University Bloomington offers an ENL graduate license addition, while Indiana Wesleyan University offers an online Master in ENL that’s designed for bachelor’s prepared educators with at least one year of teaching experience.
Already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field?
If you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, you may be able to earn an instructional license to teach in Indiana’s charter schools. To qualify for this alternative license, you’ll also need to hold current CPR certification, take suicide prevention training, and pass the appropriate licensure exam. (See Step 2).
Your bachelor’s degree may also qualify you for a master’s degree leading to initial teaching license. Many schools that offer bachelor’s level programs also offer programs at the master’s level to provide a streamlined path to an initial teaching certificate for career changers with bachelor’s degrees in other fields.
Step 2. Take Your Pedagogy and ESL Exams
Once you’ve completed your education, you’ll be required pass the developmental (pedagogy) area assessment that matches the graduate level in which you plan to teach.
You’ll also need to take and pass the English Learners Indiana CORE Assessment for Indiana licensure, which includes 100 multiple-choice questions that you’ll need to complete in a two-hour time frame.
Note: Effective July 1, 2019, prospective Indiana educators are no longer required to demonstrate basic skills competency prior to program admission.
Step 3. Apply for Your Indiana Teacher’s License with ENL Endorsement
After meeting all requirements for licensure, you’ll apply for a two-year Initial Practitioner license and ENL endorsement through the Indiana Office of Educator Licensing and Development.
Note: You must also show proof that you’ve earned CPR certification and have completed a class on child suicide and prevention before you apply for certification.
You must apply online through the Licensing Verification and Information System website.
Step 4. Convert and Maintain Your Indiana Teacher’s License and Consider Earning a Master’s in ESL to Meet Professional Development Requirements
Once you have at least two years of full-time teaching experience, you’ll convert your Initial License to a renewable five-year Practitioner License.
To maintain your Practitioner License, you’ll need to complete a Professional Growth Plan (PGP) containing 90 points during each license period. This is equivalent to six semester credit hours. Your PGP can include earning a master’s in ESL. Your principal will verify your activities and points.
Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Indiana
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for Indiana educators as of May 2020:
Early Career (25th percentile): $42,090
Experienced (90th percentile): $77,330
Early Career (25th percentile): $43,510
Experienced (90th percentile): $78,630
Early Career (25th percentile): $42,600
Experienced (90th percentile): $77,610
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Indiana in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Fort Wayne (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $42,710
Experienced (90th percentile): $72,990
Indianapolis (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $45,370
Experienced (90th percentile): $83,090
Terre Haute (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $41,490
Experienced (90th percentile): $75,280
You can become more involved in the ESL educator field by becoming an active member of a professional association like the Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
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.