Louisiana’s immigrant population, although relatively small, is vital to the health and vitality of the state’s economy. In fact, according to the American Immigration Council, foreign-born citizens make up about 13 percent of workers in the farming, fishing, and forestry industries. Most of Louisiana’s foreign-born population hails from Mexico (16 percent), Honduras (15 percent), and Vietnam (10 percent).
What’s most interesting about Louisiana’s immigrant population is the meteoric growth of the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the last 20 years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were just 10,293 ELLs in Louisiana two decades ago. By 2015, this number jumped to 23,924 ELLs, and by 2018, it reached 25,568, or about 3.7 percent of the PreK-12 student population.
This type of growth, of course, means exciting opportunities for the state’s ESL teachers. If you want to take advantage of these opportunities, you’ll need to earn a valuable ESL endorsement as part of your teaching certificate.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification and become an ESL teacher in Louisiana:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in ESL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Louisiana
If you want to become an ESL teacher in Louisiana, you’ll need to earn an ESL endorsement alongside a standard teaching certificate.
If you’re new to the field of education and don’t yet have a bachelor’s degree, learning how to become an ESL teacher in Louisiana starts with completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree that’s part of an approved educator preparation program. In most cases, you’ll major in either elementary education or secondary education (most ESL teachers choose English or language arts) and then choose an add-on ESL program.
For example, Louisiana State University offers an ESL add-on certificate that includes the coursework necessary to earn ESL certification. The ESL endorsement will be valid in the teaching area in which the student is pursuing certification. Most add-on endorsement programs in ESL are designed to suit both pre-service and certified educators.
Coursework in Louisiana ESL programs include:
- Methods of Teaching ESL
- Introduction to Language and Culture
- Structure of the English Language
- Curriculum Design for the Multicultural Classroom
Already a Louisiana certified teacher and want to add an ESL endorsement?
If you’re currently a certified Louisiana educator, you may choose to complete an ESL program that includes the coursework required to earn an ESL endorsement on your teaching certificate. These programs may be designed as undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, or master’s degree programs in ESL.
For example, the University of Louisiana Monroe offers a fully online MEd in ESL that includes 36 hours of coursework that can be completed in as little as 15 months. And Northwestern State University offers an MA in English with a concentration in TESOL.
Master’s in ESL degrees are a popular pursuit for educators who want to broaden their professional opportunities and increase their salaries. They’re also a great way to advance your teaching certificate. (see Step 3.)
Already have a bachelor’s degree in another field?
If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field and aspirations of pursuing a teaching career, Louisiana offers alternate teaching programs that lead to teacher certification for non-education graduates. The three programs currently offered include:
- Practitioner Teaching Program: Streamlined certification path that combines intensive coursework and full-time teaching.
- Master’s Degree Program: Intensive program that results in a master’s degree and an initial teaching certificate.
- Certification-Only Program: An alternative for individuals not seeking a full-time or master’s degree through one of the other paths.
Learn more about Louisiana’s alternate teaching programs here.
You may also use your bachelor’s degree in another field to qualify for one of the many available master’s degrees leading to an initial teaching license. These programs, which are offered at the same schools that offer bachelor’s level certification programs, include all of the coursework and practical teaching experiences needed to become licensed as an educator in Louisiana.
Step 2. Take and Pass the Required Exams
Once you complete your education, you’ll need to take the pass the appropriate Praxis exams to become certified as a teacher in Louisiana. The required Praxis exams will differ depending on the grade level and subject area in which you’re seeking certification.
Step 3. Apply For Your Louisiana Teaching Certificate
After completing all education and exam requirements and receiving recommendation for a Level 1 Certificate from your program provider, you’ll create an account and apply through the Louisiana Department of Education’s Educator Certification Portal.
Step 4. Earn a Master’s in ESL to Maintain and Upgrade Your Louisiana Teaching Certificate
Once you’ve successfully taught for 3 years in your area of certification, you’ll be able to apply for a Level 2 Certificate, which is valid for 5 years and can be renewed upon meeting the standards of effectiveness for at least three years of the five-year renewal period and completing at least 150 continuing learning units (CLUs) of professional development that have been approved by your district.
You may also move to a Level 3 Certificate as a Louisiana ESL teacher after you’ve earned a master’s degree and taught in your area of certification for at least 5 years.
Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Louisiana
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for Louisiana’s teachers:
Early Career (25th percentile): $43,930
Experienced (90th percentile): $62,200
Early Career (25th percentile): $44,250
Experienced (90th percentile): $62,660
Early Career (25th percentile): $44,910
Experienced (90th percentile): $65,440
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Louisiana in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Baton Rouge (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $44,440
Experienced (90th percentile): $63,090
Lafayette (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $44,670
Experienced (90th percentile): $61,2000
New Orleans (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $46,270
Experienced (90th percentile): $73,160
Get involved in the ESL profession by participating in Louisiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
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.