As of 2013, there were some 5,000 public school students in Maine participating in programs for English language learners. Over the past decade, this number has steadily increased by more than 50 percent to where it is today. This trend highlights the need for more qualified ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers in the state, today and in the years to come.
To begin a rewarding career as an ESL teacher in Maine, you will need to navigate the following steps:
The most common languages spoken by English language learners in Maine are:
A shortage of qualified ESL teachers combined with a growing population of English language learners has made ESL a targeted need area in Maine. As a result, the Maine Department of Education has developed alternative pathways designed to streamline the endorsement process and get more qualified ESL teachers into the classroom faster.
The Department of Education’s Certification Office is responsible for processing your application for teacher certification with ESL endorsement.
Step 1. Meet Eligibility Requirements for One of the Certification Pathways Available to Aspiring ESL Teachers
Becoming a teacher in Maine typically involves completing a program that meets the eligibility requirements for Maine teacher certification with an elementary, middle level or secondary endorsement.
There are multiple pathways to meeting eligibility requirements as shown here in Chapter 115, Part II, all of which involve earning a bachelor’s degree at minimum through a teacher education program approved by the Maine Department of Education, or a program otherwise accredited by any accrediting agency recognized by the US Secretary of Education.
Maine’s teacher education programs typically involve at least 15 weeks of student teaching.
Qualifying for an ESL endorsement in Maine would generally require you to take five courses specific to teaching English as a second language, beyond the courses required for initial teacher certification. Some schools that offer teacher education programs at the bachelor’s level allow you to earn an ESL certificate through coursework that is taken concurrently, rather than after the completion of your bachelor’s program.
Although the Maine Department of Education does not specify the specific courses you would need to take, the following courses come recommended and are representative of what you would typically encounter from schools offering ESL certificate programs:
- Aspects of Reading for Multilingual Learners (methods category)
- Aspects of English (applied linguistics category)
- Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom (culture category)
- ESL Testing and Assessment (assessment category)
- Content-Based Curriculum for English Language Learners (curriculum category)
These five courses would prepare you for success on the Praxis II exam and provide the knowledge essential to being prepared to teach English as a second language.
Transitional Endorsement – With Existing Teacher Certification
If you are already a certified teacher in Maine with an endorsement in another area, you have the option of adding an ESL endorsement to your existing certificate. To do this, you will need to complete at least 15 semester credits of ESL coursework.
Because ESL is a targeted need area in Maine, the DOE will allow you a transitional endorsement after completing just six semester hours of coursework toward the ESL endorsement. You would then be allowed to teach English language learners under the transitional endorsement while completing the remaining nine semester credits (15 total) and the Praxis II content area assessment.
Targeted Need Certificate – Without Existing Teacher Certification
If you do not yet hold any teaching credentials, you may qualify for a targeted need certificate after completing just six semester credits of relevant coursework toward an ESL endorsement. The targeted need certificate would be granted on a temporary basis until you complete the 24 semester credits of relevant coursework and the Praxis II content area assessment required to qualify for an ESL endorsement through this pathway.
More details on the accelerated pathways to qualifying for an ESL endorsement in Maine can be found here.
Step 2. Pass the Tests Required to Become an ESL Teacher
Mandatory tests are another important part of qualifying for initial teacher certification with an ESL endorsement. You will need to pass three of these, all of which are proctored by Educational Testing Service (ETS):
- Core Academic Skills for Educators
- Principles of Learning and Teaching
- English to Speakers of Other Languages
Core Academic Skills for Educators
This exam is offered as three sub-tests that assess your proficiency in essential areas to ensure you have the basic skills necessary to be a teacher in any subject area:
Principles of Learning and Teaching
This exam focuses on pedagogy and will assess your competencies as they relate to effective teaching. It is offered in two versions, and you should take the version that corresponds with the grades you intend to teach:
You will have two hours to complete 70 multiple-choice and four constructed-response questions taken from five key subject areas:
- Instructional process
- Students as learners
- Professional development, leadership, and the community
- ESL assessment options and interpretations
- Analysis of scenarios taken from these subject areas
English to Speakers of Other Languages
Also referred to as a Praxis II content knowledge test, the English to Speakers of Other Languages exam will evaluate your specific knowledge in the field of ESL. You will have two hours to complete this exam, which is comprised of the following elements:
- Half-hour listening portion comprised of 20 questions – you will listen to a recording of a non-native English speaker and be asked questions pertaining to oral pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar
- 100 select-response questions covering the topics of:
- Linguistics and language learning
- Managing, implementing, and planning instruction
- Professional and cultural aspects of being an ESL teacher
Having completed the ETS tests, one final evaluation remains before you can obtain an ESL teaching certification, and that is a background investigation. You will need to arrange to be fingerprinted. You can schedule an appointment online to have your fingerprints taken at locations across Maine and elsewhere in the United States.
Step 3. Apply for your Initial Teacher Certification with ESL Endorsement
Once you have progressed to this step you will be ready to apply for teaching certification. A complete application packet will include:
- Application for teaching certification
- $100 fee
- Official transcripts from your degree and teacher preparation programs
- ETS test scores
As you are filling out your application, make sure to indicate you are applying for a teacher endorsement in English – Second Language (K-12) code #660. Send all your application materials to:
Department of Education
23 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0023
You can check online to see the status of your application, and once you have successfully received your teaching certification you can apply for ESL teacher jobs in Maine.
The Department of Education maintains an employment website with links to opportunities across the state. As a certified teacher in ESL you will be able to teach in grades K-12.
Step 4. Maintain and Renew your Teacher Certification
As you get started working as an ESL teacher you can participate in an Education Induction Program that is designed to help new teachers become acquainted with their new profession. As part of this you will be placed with an experienced ESL teacher who will offer you feedback and support as you make this transition. Later on as you develop further in your career you will have the opportunity to act as an ESL mentor for new teachers as one of the options for fulfilling your certification renewal requirements.
Your first teacher certification is known as a Provisional Certification and is valid for two years. Once you have obtained a satisfactory performance evaluation from your home school you will be able to upgrade this to a five-year renewable Professional Certification with an endorsement in ESL.
If you are an out-of-state experienced teacher you can apply directly for Professional Certification provided you also hold National Board Certification. This is sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), a nationally recognized non-profit organization that confers the benchmark certification for teaching excellence. To gain this you will need to pass a series of evaluations as well as develop a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates a high quality of teaching abilities. NBPTS offers two ESL certifications depending on the ages of the students you teach:
- English as a New Language – Early and Middle Childhood
- English as a New Language – Early Adolescence Through Young Adulthood
Being NBPTS-certified will also make you eligible for an annual salary bonus that has most recently been calculated at $2,750.
Renewing the Professional Certification
Renewing your Professional Certification requires the completion of six continuing professional education credits every five years, and these must be approved by the Department of Education. Your professional education credits should be obtained by participating in educational or professional activities that advance your knowledge and understanding in the field of ESL.
Because earning a master’s degree such as an M.Ed., M.A.T., or MATL can be a qualifying method of renewing your Professional Certification, many ESL teachers choose to pursue these advanced degrees. Having a master’s degree can offer several advantages:
- Fulfill the renewal requirements for a Professional Certification
- Be a factor for justifying a higher annual salary
- Increase job security and professional qualifications
- Augment your teaching proficiency, which translates into an improved learning environment for your students
The Maine ESL teacher job description calls for candidates to be professionals in their field who continue to strive for excellence. You can maintain your edge and find professional development, networking, and educational resources through organizations such as the NNETESOL (Northern New England Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Maine ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives
Learners (ELL) nearly doubled between the 2002-03 and the 2011-12 school years according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Maine had 5,104 ELL students in the 2011-12 school year. They accounted for 2.7% of the public school student population.
These ELL students come from a variety of backgrounds. Those in the Portland Public Schools spoke over 60 different languages in 2014. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 41.7% of Maine’s ELL students spoke French, while 12.4% spoke Spanish. Somali refugees have been settling in Maine in large numbers in recent years, and 9.9% of the ELL students spoke an African language.
ESL teachers help these students learn English, so they can succeed academically. The Portland Public Schools alone had about 50 ESL teachers on staff in 2014. Despite this, the U.S. Department of Education designated Maine as having a critical shortage of ESL teachers for the 2014-15 school year.
Maine’s Department of Education requires that its teachers add an ESL endorsement to their teaching certificate to become K-12 ESL teachers. Given the critical need for this specialty, there are frequently bonus incentives for teachers who obtain an ESL endorsement. ESL teachers also tend to have higher salaries, because many teachers obtain their ESL endorsement by getting a master’s degree.
The Center for Workforce Research and Information provides 2013 salary data for teachers in Maine:
Teachers in the Portland school district frequently have advanced degrees, so the average teacher salary in Portland is higher than the Maine average:
- Elementary School Teachers: $54,010 to $70,610
- Middle School Teachers: $51,490 to $68,750
- Secondary School Teachers: $52,430 to $70,000
Other ESL teachers train adults to speak English. They fall under the category of Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides 2013 salary data for preschool teachers in Maine’s major cities: