At nearly 10 percent, Maryland’s English Language Learner (ELL) population is strong and growing larger each year. In fact, in terms of ELL growth, Maryland is a leader in the U.S., nearly tripling its immigrant population since 2000. As of 2018, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported a total of 84,120 ELLs, which comprised about 9.7 percent of the total PreK-12 population.
This was a sharp increase from 69,079 ELLs just a year earlier and more than triple the number of ELLs in 2000, at 24,213.
As expected, this sort of meteoric growth in the number of ELLs has translated into a growing demand for ESL teachers. The U.S. Department of Education reported a shortage of Maryland ESL teachers in all grade levels (PreK-12) as of the 2021-2022 school year.
Opportunities are abundant in Maryland’s ESL teaching field, but you’ll need an ESOL teaching certificate or ESOL endorsement to take advantage of them.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification and become an ESL teacher in Maryland:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Maryland
In Maryland, ESL teachers are also be referred to as teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or ESOL teachers. Maryland offers a K-12 ESOL Certification, so learning how to become an ESL teacher involves first completing a bachelor’s or master’s program that’s part of a Maryland approved preparation program.
For example, Salisbury University offers a BA in ESOL that qualifies graduates for Maryland K-12 ESOL certification.
The curriculum of these programs include:
- 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 include:
Your teaching program will focus on education and pedagogy and 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.
You may also choose to major in an area like elementary education or in a single subject in secondary education and then minor in TESOL, which would the qualify you for an initial teaching certification in elementary or secondary education with a TESOL endorsement. Salisbury University is one of several schools that offer a TESOL minor to education students.
Already a Massachusetts certified teacher and want to add an ESOL endorsement to your current certificate?
If you’re a Massachusetts teacher and you’ve set your sights on ESL certification, you’ll find a nice selection of programs aimed at the practicing educator. Designed as undergraduate certificates, graduate certificates, and master’s degrees, these programs include all of the necessary coursework to add an ESOL endorsement to your current certificate..
For example, the University of Maryland offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in TESOL that’s offered fully online and designed for in-service educators. The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers two options for earning an ESOL certificate: an MA in TESOL and a four-course post-baccalaureate certificate in ESOL.
Master’s degrees are often chosen in lieu of certificate programs because they open up more professional doors while satisfying the requirements for a Standard Professional Certificate. (see Step 4).
Some of the required ESL courses within these programs include:
- Introduction to the Study of Language
- Principles of Linguistics
- Survey of Modern English Grammar
- English Structure for Educators
- Language and Culture
- Second Language Acquisition
- ESOL Tests and Measurements
Already have a bachelor’s in another field?
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.
Career changers may also qualify for one of the many master’s degree programs leading to an initial teaching certificate. These programs, which are often found through schools that offer bachelor’s level teacher preparation programs, require a bachelor’s degree for admission and include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary for initial licensure.
Step 2. Complete the Maryland Testing Requirements
Once you’ve completed the required education and related student teaching experience, you must take and pass the following Praxis exams to qualify for ESOL certification:
- English to Speakers of Other Languages (5362)
- Teaching Reading: Elementary Education (5205)
Step 3. Apply For Your Maryland Teaching Certificate
Once you’ve passed the required Praxis exams, you’ll be ready to apply for your Maryland Standard Professional Certificate (SPC I) through the Education Portal.
If you’re not yet employed in a MD local school system or in a publicly funded nonpublic school, you’ll apply for a Professional Eligibility Certificate (PEC).
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. Consider Earning a Master’s in ESL to Maintain and Upgrade Your Teaching Certificate
Both the SPC I and PEC Certificates are valid for a period of 5 years. You’ll upgrade to a Standard Professional Certificate II (SPC II) once you’ve completed the following:
- Completed at least 3 years of satisfactory school related experience
- Completed at least 6 semester hours of acceptable credit
- Completed a professional development plan toward the Advanced Professional Certificate (APC).
The SPC, which is also valid for 5 years, is renewed upon meeting the following requirements:
- 6 semester hours of acceptable credit
- At least three years of satisfactory school related experience
- Completed one of the following:
- A master’s degree or higher, along with at least 6 semester hours related to your certification
- At least 36 semester hours of approved professional education coursework that includes at least 21 graduate credits, of which at least 6 credits are related to your certification
- National Board Certification and at least 12 semester hours of approved graduate coursework
Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Maryland
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 in ESL is also a smart way to improve you professional opportunities and elevate your earning potential.
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)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland’s educators earned the following salaries as of May 2020:
Early Career (25th percentile): $58,990
Experienced (90th percentile): $112,940
Early Career (25th percentile): $57,750
Experienced (90th percentile): $118,230
Early Career (25th percentile): $59,260
Experienced (90th percentile): $112,500
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Maryland in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Baltimore (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $55,770
Experienced (90th percentile): $100,910
Cumberland (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $43,110
Experienced (90th percentile): $75,700
Salisbury (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $54,390
Experienced (90th percentile): $93,030
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.