Maine’s immigrant population may be rather small, but that doesn’t mean that its foreign-born residents aren’t major contributors to the economy here. In fact, according to the American Immigration Council, immigrants in Maine account for about 7 percent of the state’s transportation and warehousing employees alone.
And while English Language Learners (ELLs) in Maine total just about 3.4 percent of the PreK-12 student population, their slow and steady growth in recent years has allowed the ESL teaching field to remain strong and in-demand. In 2015, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that the number of ELLs in Maine totaled 5,091. By 2016, this number had increased to 5,295, and by 2017, it increased again to 5,775. By 2018, the number of ELLs in the state had increased to 5,989.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the U.S. Department of Education reported ESL teacher shortages across all grade levels (PreK-12) in Maine as of the 2021-2022 school year.
If you want to be a part of the in-demand ESL teaching field in Maine, you’ll need to have an ESL credential alongside your teaching license.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification and become an ESL teacher in Maine:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in ESL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Maine
Maine teachers can either hold a primary ESL teacher certification (K-12) or an ESL endorsement (K-12) alongside a K-8, 7-12, or K-12 certification.
Whichever path you choose, 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 Maine involves first completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree that’s housed within a state-approved teacher preparation program.
You’ll major in ESL if you want to earn ESL certification (K-12) in Maine. These programs contain a minimum of 24 credits in ESL.
If you want to pursue an ESL endorsement, you’ll likely choose a preparation program in either elementary education or secondary (English or language arts) education and then choose a minor, track, or concentration in ESL.
For example, the University of Maine at Farmington offers an English Language Learners (ELL) minor that’s designed to enhance a student’s primary endorsement in K-3, K-8, 7-12, or Special Education K-8, 7-12.
You’ll need to earn 15 credits in ESL beyond the courses required for initial teacher certification. Although the Maine Department of Education does not specify the specific courses you would need to take, typical courses include:
- 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)
Already a Maine certified teacher and want to add an ESL endorsement?
If you already hold a teaching certificate in Maine and you want to add an ESL endorsement, you can complete an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, or master’s in ESL.
There are plenty of options for earning an ESL endorsement alongside your current teaching certificate in Maine. For example, the University of Southern Maine offers a Master of Science in Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and a Post-Master’s Certificate of Advanced Study in English as a Second Language.
Earning a master’s degree as you work toward an ESL endorsement is a great way to broaden your professional opportunities, earn a higher salary, and satisfy your professional development requirements. (see Step 4.)
Already have a bachelor’s degree in another field?
Your bachelor’s degree in another field may also qualify you for a master’s degree leading to an initial teaching license. Many schools that offer bachelor’s level teaching certificate programs also offer master’s options that include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary to become certified as a Maine teacher.
Step 2. Pass the Tests Required to Become an ESL Teacher
Before you can apply to become a Maine educator, you’ll need to take and pass the following Praxis exams:
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 evaluates your specific knowledge of ESL. You will have two hours to complete this exam, which includes 120 questions in the following areas:
- Foundations of Linguistics 18%
- Foundations of Language Learning 22%
- Planning and Implementing Instruction 23%
- Assessment and Evaluation 15%
- Culture 11%
- Professionalism and Advocacy 11%
A background investigation is needed before you can become a Maine educator. 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 ESL Teacher Certificate or Initial Teacher Certificate with ESL Endorsement
Once you have progressed to this step you will be ready to apply for your Maine teaching certificate. You’ll create an online account with the Maine Educator Information System (MEIS) before you can apply for your teaching certificate. You can also check on the status of your application through the MEIS system.
Step 4. Consider Earning a Master’s in ESL to Maintain and Renew Your Maine Teacher Certificate
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
Renewing the Professional Certification
Renewing your Professional Certificate requires the completion of 6 semester credit hours or 90 professional education contact hours 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 Certificate, 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
Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Maine
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 Northern New England Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (NNETESOL).
You can search for new career opportunities by visiting the Maine Department of Education’s #TeachMaine site.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educators in Maine earned the following salaries as of May 2020:
Early Career (25th percentile): $41,880
Experienced (90th percentile): $77,110
Early Career (25th percentile): $48,140
Experienced (90th percentile): $79,000
Early Career (25th percentile): $45,730
Experienced (90th percentile): $78,100
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Maine in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Bangor (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $41,350
Experienced (90th percentile): $75,810
Lewiston (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $41,110
Experienced (90th percentile): $62,960
Portland (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $48,270
Experienced (90th percentile): $80,360
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.