You may be surprised to hear that immigrants in our nation’s heartland comprise an important and growing segment of the population. In Kansas this holds particularly true, with one in 14 residents here being foreign-born, according to the American Immigration Council. Many industries now rely heavily on the state’s immigrant labor force, including the construction industry, where foreign-born individuals make up 15 percent of the workforce.
This growing number of immigrants translates into a growing English Language Learner (ELL) population in Kansas schools. As of 2018, there were about 44,000 ELLs in Kansas who comprised about 9.3 percent of the total PreK-12 student population.
If you want to take advantage of the rising number of professional opportunities for Kansas’ ESL teachers, you’ll need to earn ESL certification as part of your teaching license.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL certification (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and become an ESL teacher in Kansas:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in TESOL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Kansas
In Kansas, ESL teachers hold elementary, middle, or secondary licenses and a teaching endorsement in TESOL (PK-12). 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 first involves earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in elementary education or in a subject area in middle or secondary education that’s part of an approved teacher preparation program.
Then, to earn a TESOL endorsement alongside your teaching license, you’ll choose a minor, track, or concentration in ESL. Topics within an ESL program include:
- Language in Culture and Society
- Instructional Approaches for ESOL learners
- Second Language Acquisition
- Diagnosis and Remediation in Second Language Education
Note: The Kansas State Department of Education no longer requires teachers to complete an approved program of study in ESL to earn a TESOL endorsement. Instead, you can earn this endorsement by passing the appropriate Praxis exam (see Step 2). However, most individuals choose to complete an ESL program to ensure they’re adequately prepared to pass the required Praxis content exam.
Already a Kansas licensed educator and want to add a TESOL endorsement?
If you already hold a Kansas educator license and you want to add a TESOL endorsement, you can pursue an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, or master’s in ESL.
For example, the University of Kansas offers an Online Master’s in TESOL, as well as a Licensure Endorsement-Only Track in TESOL.
While certificate programs provide a swift route to a TESOL endorsement, many choose a master’s degree to broaden their professional opportunities and increase their earning potential. And in Kansas, a graduate degree can help you transition to a Professional Teaching License. (See Step 4.)
Already have a bachelor’s degree?
If you already have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited college or university, you may qualify for the Restricted Teaching License Alternative Pathway. To qualify, your degree must be in a content area in an area you want to teach. You can start teaching immediately while completing the required educational pedagogy courses to become fully licensed.
Read more about the Restricted Teaching License Alternative Pathway here.
You may also use your bachelor’s degree in another field toward a master’s degree leading to an initial teaching license. Many schools that offer bachelor’s level programs within a teacher preparation program also offer programs at the master’s level. These programs include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary to earn your initial teaching license in Kansas.
Step 2. Pass the Required Exams
Educational Testing Service provides the testing services for prospective Kansas teachers, at the pedagogical and content area levels. Known as the Praxis exams, all teachers must pass at least one of the four pedagogy exams. Then you must pass the Praxis II content area exam(s) that correlates to the subject(s) you wish to teach. (Basic skills are not tested when you apply for licensure, as it is assumed they were assessed during your teacher preparation program).
In order to receive your Initial License, you must pass one of the following exams:
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 (160)
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 5-9 (160)
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 (160)
Content Area Exams
The Kansas State Department of Education also requires that you pass content area exams for each subject in which you wish to teach. For ESOL endorsement, this means you must pass the English to Speakers of Other Languages test with a score of 138.
Step 3. Apply for Your Kansas Teaching License and TESOL Endorsement
If you have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, completed a teacher preparation program including the field experience, and passed the necessary tests, you are ready to apply for an Initial Teaching License through the Kansas Licensure Application System.
Step 4. Consider Earning Your Master’s in ESL to Maintain and Upgrade Your Kansas Teaching License
Your Initial Teaching License in Kansas it is valid for two years. You are expected to complete the state’s Induction and Mentoring Program at the Kansas public school where you teach during this two-year period. One you’ve completed the required mentoring program, you’ll upgrade to a Professional License.
Your Professional Teaching License has a validity of five years. You must complete professional development during this time in order to renew the license.
- If you do not hold a graduate degree, choose from the following options:
- Earn 160 professional development points by an approved local development council under an individual professional development plan. 80 of these points must be in the form of college credit
- If you have just completed a program for a new teaching endorsement, or an endorsement in school leadership or specialist, apply 8 semester credit hours of this program towards your renewal credits
- Become certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (then you will be eligible for an Accomplished Teaching License, which is valid for 10 years)
- If you hold a graduate degree:
- Earn 120 professional development points by an approved local development council under an individual professional development plan
- If you can verify three years of experience working at an accredited school under your professional license, you may use this experience in place of the 120 professional development points. This, however, may only be used twice during your teaching career.
Earning a graduate degree can be most beneficial to you as an ESOL teacher in Kansas. As you can see above, it helps you to renew your Professional License more easily. Graduate studies can also help you to earn a higher salary. Possibilities for graduate ESOL degrees in Kansas include:
- Master of Arts in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
- Master of Science in Education- Concentration in TESOL
- Master of Arts in Education – Concentration in TESOL
- Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction – TESOL Concentration
Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Kansas
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kansas educators earned the following salaries as of May 2020:
Early Career (25th percentile): $44,660
Experienced (90th percentile): $76,480
Early Career (25th percentile): $46,410
Experienced (90th percentile): $82,850
Early Career (25th percentile): $44,570
Experienced (90th percentile): $78,840
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Kansas in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Manhattan (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $53,590
Experienced (90th percentile): $80,070
Topeka (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $49,310
Experienced (90th percentile): $83,580
Wichita (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $47,000
Experienced (90th percentile): $72,820
While you’ll be paid on the same salary schedule as your fellow educators in Kansas according to your education and experience, you may be eligible for financial incentives for earning your ESL degree or working as an ESL educator.
You may also be eligible for signing bonuses or annual salary stipends for teaching ESL in a region or school district with ESL teacher shortages.
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.