Over the past 10 years the number of public school students who attend programs for English language learners has doubled in Maryland, reaching a current level of more than 50,000 students. This changing demographic reflects both the importance ESL teachers have in the classroom as well as a trend that points to an increasing demand for these professionals.
The Department of Education entrusts its Division of Certification with ensuring that all prospective teachers applying for TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification have met the proper qualifications and completed the requisite eligibility process. To become an ESL teacher in Maryland, you will need to complete the following steps:
|Earn a Degree in the Field of TESOL|
|Complete the Maryland Testing Requirements|
|Apply for your Maryland TESOL Certification|
|Renew Your Maryland TESOL Certification|
Step 1. Earn a Degree in the Field of TESOL
In Maryland ESL teachers are also be referred to as teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or ESOL teachers.
The most direct route to fulfill the Maryland TESOL certification requirements is to complete a bachelor’s degree in a field related to TESOL that includes an approved teaching program for ESL.
A curriculum that meets the endorsement requirements for ESOL teachers in Maryland will include the following courses:
- Six semester credits in linguistics and the study of American English
- Three semester credits in cross-cultural studies including knowledge and sensitivity to modern cultures
- Six semester credits in language learning and acquisition, such as language development or psycholinguistics
- Six semester credits in educational foundations, including a course in the foundational psychology of education
- 12 semester credits in ESOL, including three credits in each of the following:
- ESOL methods
- Teaching writing to limited English proficiency students
- ESOL tests and measurements
- Three semester credits pertaining to the inclusion of special-needs students
- Six semester credits in ESOL student teaching or one year of successful ESOL teaching
- Six semester credits in a modern foreign language – the most common non-English languages among Maryland’s public school students are:
You should complete these courses either through university and college classes or through your teaching program. Schools located across Maryland and online offer content in TESOL in the form of:
- Certification programs
- Bachelor’s of arts degrees
- Post-baccalaureate programs
- Master’s of arts degrees
Your teaching program will focus on education and pedagogy, preparing you to become a highly effective teacher. In Maryland you can find several traditional approved teaching programs in TESOL. In a traditional program you will complete a series of courses that focus on the education of ESL which culminate in a student teaching segment where you will be placed in an ESOL classroom to work under the close supervision of an experienced teacher.
Approved Teaching Programs
If you already have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of ESOL you may choose to complete an alternative teaching program in ESOL. This will resemble the traditional program in that it will focus on the pedagogy of ESOL, however this will be an intensive segment and be followed by direct classroom placement where you will work in a mentored relationship with an experienced ESOL teacher. Some alternative teacher programs can place you in the classroom as a teacher in just six weeks.
ESOL teachers who currently hold a valid certification from a different state are generally eligible for a Maryland teaching certification if the TESOL education program they completed was approved by their home state.
Step 2. Complete the Maryland Testing Requirements
Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers both tests you will need to pass to become qualified for an ESL teaching certification:
- Essential Skills Test
- English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam
Essential Skills Test
The Maryland Department of Education wants to ensure that all the teachers it certifies have a basic level of essential skills required to be an effective communicator and educator. To meet this requirement, you must demonstrate a basic level of competence in writing, math, and reading. ETS offers two exams you can choose from:
- Praxis I Exam – required for all teachers until September of 2014, with three subtests in:
- Core Academic Skills for Educators – can be taken in place of the Praxis I Exam beginning in September of 2014, with three subtests in:
You can be exempt from both the Praxis I and Core tests if you have achieved a qualifying minimum score on any of the following tests:
- GRE before September 2011 – composite score of 1000
- GRE General Test combined verbal and quantitative score of 297
- ACT composite score of 24
- SAT combined verbal and math score of 1100
English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam
The English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam will assess you on your specific knowledge in the field of ESL. This exam may also be referred to as a Praxis II Content Knowledge exam. You will be allowed two hours to complete this test, which is comprised of 120 questions in total:
- 20 questions on a listening portion which you will have half an hour to complete
- 100 select-response questions taken from four subject categories:
- Foundations of linguistics and language learning
- Managing, planning, and implementing instruction
- Choosing and evaluating ESL assessments
- Professional and cultural aspects of the Maryland ESL teacher job description
Step 3. Apply for your Maryland TESOL Certification
Once you have reached this point you will be ready to apply for a TESOL teaching certification. A complete application packet will include:
- Cover letter with your name, mailing address, and social security number that also specifies you are applying for an ESOL endorsement on one of the following teaching certificate types:
- Professional Eligibility Certificate – if you are not currently employed as a teacher in Maryland; this is the most common certificate for new applicants
- Resident Teacher Certificate – if you are becoming an ESL teacher through an alternative teaching program
- Standard Professional Certificate – if you are already a Maryland teacher
- ETS test scores
- $10 application fee
- Official transcripts from your degree and teacher program
You can submit all your application materials to:
Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Once you receive your certification you will be ready to start hunting for ESL teacher jobs in Maryland.
Already a Maryland Teacher – Adding an Endorsement
If you are already a certified Maryland teacher you can simply add an endorsement in ESL/ESOL to your existing certification. To do this you will send a cover letter to your local school, or if unemployed to the Department of Education Certification Branch. In your cover letter make sure to specify that you are requesting an added endorsement in the area of teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Along with your cover letter you must include one of the following:
- A passing test score (at least 149) on the English to Speakers of Other Languages Exam
- Official transcripts showing that you have completed the requisite amount of semester credits in ESL and education courses
Step 4. Renew Your Maryland TESOL Certification
Once you are hired as an ESL teacher you will be eligible for a Standard Professional Certificate (SPC). This is valid for five years and you can renew your SPC by earning six semester credits that relate to ESL from a college or university. After holding an SPC for at least five years you will be eligible for an upgrade to an SPC II. To upgrade you must meet fulfill all of the following conditions:
- Complete three years of teaching performance that is judged to be satisfactory
- Earn six semester credits in the field of TESOL
- Complete a professional development plan that lays out how you will become eligible for the next level of teaching certification above an SPC II- an Advanced Professional Certificate
To be eligible for an Advanced Professional Certificate you will need to:
- Have an SPC II for at least five years
- Continue to meet the requirements for an SPC II
- Qualify for eligibility through one of the following three ways:
- Have a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL
- Have National Board Certification and complete at least 12 semesters of graduate-level courses
- Complete at least 36 semester credits of post-baccalaureate education, including at least 21 credits at the graduate level.
The Maryland Department of Education encourages its teachers to work towards a master’s degree in their field, as evidenced by the fact that graduate-level courses or a graduate degree are requirements for more advanced teaching certificates. Earning a master’s degree will make you eligible for these advanced ESL teaching certifications and can also improve your overall teaching, salary, and job security.
You can find additional professional resources and networking opportunities through organizations such as:
- Maryland TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages)
- Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association (MVMA)
Maryland ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland’s immigrant population was 811,701 in 2011. While many of these children are proficient in English, others require help to master the language and are enrolled in programs for English Language Learners (ELL).
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that 6% of Maryland’s public school students were enrolled in such programs during the 2011-12 school year. The number of ELL students in Maryland was 51,574 that year. This represents a 189% increase in ELL students between the 2002-03 and 2011-12 school years.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, nearly half of these students spoke Spanish. The second and third most common ELL student languages were Chinese and Korean. 14% of the ELL students spoke one of these two languages.
ESL teachers are essential to helping ELL students learn to master the English language. Maryland faced a critical shortage of ESL teachers during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The Maryland State Department of Education requires that its ESL teachers obtain ESOL certification. Teachers can obtain this by earning a dedicated degree in the field or by taking part in an add-on endorsement program. Many of these teachers earn ESOL master’s degrees.
The Maryland schools that hire ESL teachers frequently require that the applicants have prior teaching experience. Sometimes they prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Having this combination of education and experience should result in ESL teacher salaries that are higher than those of the average teacher.
Maryland’s Office of Workforce Information & Performance provides the 2013 wages for teachers in the state. These values are adjusted for inflation through March 2014:
The 2013 salaries for Maryland’s adult ESL teachers are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are included in the Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers category. This salary data is shown in the following table: