Michigan ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

Here are the steps you need to take to become an ESL teacher in Michigan:

#1 ButtonEarn a TESOL Degree to Qualify for a Teaching License and ESL Endorsement
#2 ButtonPass the ESL MTTC and Apply for Your Michigan Teacher’s License with ESL Endorsement
#3 ButtonFulfill Your Professional Development Requirements to Renew Your Michigan License
The Master of Arts in Teaching - TESOL online program from the USC Rossier School of Education prepares you to teach students of all ages in the U.S. and internationally, gives you the option to pursue a teaching credential, and can be completed in 12 months.
Campbellsville University Offers an ESL Endorsement (P-12), M.A. in Teaching - Secondary Education, M.A. in TESOL
Liberty University Offers Undergrad Cert and B.Ed. in English as a Second Language.
Greenville University Offers a Master of Arts in Education - Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)
George Mason University Offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum and Instruction, Concentration in TESOL
Capella University offers online Master’s program in English Language Learning and Teaching designed to help educators advance their career in supporting diverse student populations. While it does not satisfy licensure requirements, the program can help you build the skills to use instructional strategies, emerging trends, and best practices to effectively teach English Language Learners to help students adapt to new cultural environments.
St. John's University Offers an Online Ph.D. in Literacy
Saint Joseph's University Offers an English as a Second Language Certificate

According to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), during the 2012-13 school year about 4% of Michigan’s Pre K-12 students were English Learners (ELs). The MDE reported that 76,409 students fell into this category.

More than 60 different languages are spoken among these students, with Spanish and Arabic making up 44% and 27% respectively. While these students bring diverse strengths into Michigan’s classrooms, they also present unique challenges. English as a second language (ESL) teachers help these students master the English language so they can succeed in general education classrooms.

In addition to teaching K-12 students, ESL teachers in Michigan are in demand in a number of other areas. Some teach adults at colleges and community centers, while others work for the federal government or private businesses. A Michigan ESL teacher’s job description can range from teaching K-12 students to incorporating ESL education into adult employment training.

The specialty of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) is in high demand in academic institutions and businesses in other countries. In addition, this background is highly valuable for humanitarian volunteers such as those in the Peace Corps or religious missions.



Step 1. Earn a TESOL Degree to Qualify for a Teaching License and ESL Endorsement

There are two primary ways that you can qualify for a teaching license and ESL endorsement in Michigan. They include:

  • Getting an ESL minor when you get your teaching degree at the bachelor’s level
  • Obtaining a TESOL master’s degree

You also have to choose a grade range for a Michigan ESL endorsement:

  • K-12
  • Elementary education
  • Secondary education

If you are already licensed, you can add an ESL endorsement to your teaching certificate:

  • Undergraduate endorsement programs
  • Graduate certification

The MDE has approved 16 different schools that offer ESL teacher training — officially known as NS certification. Most of them also offer the option of getting a minor. In all cases, you have to take at least 20 semester hours of ESL courses to get Michigan’s TESOL certification.

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ESL Minors

If you choose to get an ESL minor while you are getting your Michigan teacher education, you will have to major or minor in an additional area to get your bachelor’s degree. Typical courses that you might take include:

  • Grammar for ESL teachers
  • Introduction to language
  • Methodology: listening and speaking
  • Second language acquisition
  • SLA testing and assessment
  • TESOL methodology: content-based approaches
  • TESOL methodology: listening and speaking

Adding an ESL Endorsement

If you are already a certified Michigan teacher and want to add an ESL endorsement to your certificate, you can complete an ESL endorsement program through undergraduate or graduate coursework.

If you do not have extensive teaching experience, you will have to complete a practicum class to get ESL teaching experience.

You must have a Provisional or Professional Education Certificate to be eligible for this endorsement.



Step 2. Pass the ESL MTTC and Apply for Your Michigan Teacher’s License with ESL Endorsement

Once you have completed your ESL coursework and have teaching experience, you will need to pass Michigan’s standardized ESL test. This is the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) test 86.

You should prepare for this test, and Michigan offers a study guide with sample questions. One quarter of the test is on the Application of Standards-Based Curriculum and Assessment, while the rest involves 15% of each of these topics:

  • Assessment
  • Culture
  • Language, Linguistics, and Comparisons
  • Professionalism
  • Second Language Acquisition and Instructional Practices

Once you have passed this test, you can apply for your ESL endorsement.

You will need to apply for your initial Michigan teacher’s license and your endorsement online through Michigan’s Online Educator Certification System. This will involve creating an account and keeping track of your Michigan Education Information Systems (MEIS) account number.

Once you have logged in and chosen “Educator” from the dropdown menu, the system will guide you through the application process.

You must apply for your ESL endorsement within five years after taking your ESL exam.



Step 3. Fulfill Your Professional Development Requirements to Renew Your Michigan License

ESL Teaching Resources

The MDE takes an active role in guiding Michigan’s ESL teachers. The MI-MAP on Developing English Language Proficiency provides a number of resources for program development. It will help you to provide a well-designed ESL curriculum and assess how well your students are learning.

ESL Professional Organization

You may also want to join the Michigan Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (MITESOL) to keep abreast of developments in the field. In addition to providing informational events such as conferences, it also has an active jobs listing.

Renewing Your Certificate

After three years you will need to renew your Provisional Certificate, during which time you will be required to demonstrate that you have been working to advance your teaching knowledge. This can involve semester credit hours, Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECHs), or a combination. You can also renew your license by getting an approved master’s degree.

Your second renewal has similar requirements, while your third requires sponsorship from your school. You must also have completed all of the academic requirements for your Professional Education Certificate.

If you have a Professional Education Certificate, it is good for five years. The renewal requirements are similar, but you can also use District Provided Professional Development (DDPD) clock hours to meet your requirements.

ESL Master’s Degrees

One way to meet your professional development requirements and advance your career is to complete an ESL master’s degree that is designed for certified teachers. Most of these degrees are offered as M.A. TESOL in Michigan. Some are entirely based around coursework, while others require that you do research and write a thesis.

While you can enter several of these programs from a variety of backgrounds, one requires that you majored or minored in one of these fields:

  • A foreign language
  • English
  • Language arts
  • Linguistics
  • Reading

In addition, you can get an M.Ed. in Literacy Studies with an Emphasis on TESOL. While you will receive extensive training in ESL teaching, you will also take coursework in integrating technology into your curriculum.

Michigan also offers a Peace Corps Master’s International Program. It combines TESOL coursework with 27 months of Peace Corps service.

Michigan ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 604,014 of Michigan’s residents were from other countries as of 2011. This represented 6.1% of Michigan’s total population.

Nearly four percent of Michigan’s public school students participated in programs for English Language Learners (ELL) in the 2011-12 school year according to the National Center for Education Statistics. They totaled 52,811 that year. Most of the ELL students spoke Spanish according to the Migration Policy Institute, with Arabic being the second most commonly spoken language.

ESL teachers instruct these students to help them become proficient in English. Since ESL teacher positions in Michigan frequently specify having both the ESL endorsement and several years of teaching experience, their salaries tend to be higher than that of the average teacher. The school districts prefer ESL teachers that are fluent in Spanish or Arabic, making them eligible for bonus incentives.

Michigan’s Labor Market Information provides a breakdown of the 2012 K-12 teacher salaries:

Grade Level
Elementary School Teachers
Middle School Teachers
Secondary School Teachers

The Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area is home to many of Michigan’s immigrants. The Detroit City School District spent over $2.8 million on instruction for its ELL students in 2012. 2009 salary data is available for Detroit teachers:

Grade Level
Elementary School Teachers
Middle School Teachers
Secondary School Teachers

Since wages have risen since 2009, Detroit teachers should currently command higher salaries than those shown here.

ESL teachers also teach adults to improve their English proficiency. The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers these teachers to be part of its Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers category. They provide 2013 salary data for these Michigan professionals in the table below.

Area name
Annual Median Salary
Ann Arbor MI
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn MI Metropolitan Division
Detroit-Warren-Livonia MI
Flint MI
Grand Rapids-Wyoming MI
Kalamazoo-Portage MI
Lansing-East Lansing MI
Estimate Not Released
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills MI Metropolitan Division
Estimate Not Released
Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area

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