Michigan schools are in the midst of a transformation, thanks to a $17.1 billion school aid budget (House Bill 4411) for 2022 that’s been heralded by many as the greatest education investment in Michigan’s history. Largely designed to close the funding gap between Michigan’s highest- and lowest-funded school districts, the bill will include an increase in student funding to ensure that all districts across the state receive the same baseline funding of $8,700 per pupil. Within the budget is a 4% increase in funding for Michigan’s English Language Learners (ELLs), a swiftly growing student population that reached 96,719 as of 2018, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
The NCES reports that the ELL population in Michigan accounted for about 6.6 percent of the state’s total PreK-12 student population in 2018 – that’s nearly double the number of ELLs in the state in 2000 (49,279).
As expected, the strong growth of ELLs in Michigan has translated into a growing demand for ESL teachers, with demand largely outstripping supply. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Michigan reported ESL teacher shortages in all grades (PreK-12) as of the 2021-2022 school year.
This, of course, means bountiful professional opportunities for Michigan’s ESL teachers. If you want to take advantage of the state’s growing ELL population and join the ranks of Michigan’s ESL educators, the following steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification and become an ESL teacher in Michigan:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in ESL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Michigan
In Michigan, you can become an ESL teacher by earning an ESL endorsement (K-12) alongside an elementary (K-8) or secondary (6-12) teaching certificate.
Therefore, to complete a course of education in ESL, you’ll major in either elementary education or in language arts, social studies, science, or mathematics at the secondary level and then choose an ESL minor, track, or concentration. If you’re new to the teaching field and haven’t yet completed a bachelor’s degree, learning how to become an ESL teacher in Michigan involves earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree that’s part of a state-approved education preparation provider.
There are plenty of Michigan schools that offer a course of study in ESL. For example, the University of Michigan offers an ESL endorsement sequence that includes 20 semester credits in:
- Teaching Language, Literacy and Academic Content to Diverse Learners
- English as a Second Language Teaching Practicum and Seminar
- Methods for Teaching Language and Literacy to K-12 Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
- Educational Linguistics
- Education in a Multilingual Society
- Leadership and Advocacy Practices for Teachers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
Already a Michigan certified teacher and want to add an ESL endorsement?
If you are already a certified Michigan teacher (with a provisional or professional education certificate) and want to add an ESL endorsement to your certificate, you can complete an ESL endorsement program through undergraduate or graduate coursework and earn a undergraduate or graduate certificate.
For example, Western Michigan University offers an ESL graduate certificate program that features 24 credits that are designed to meet the requirements for an ESL endorsement alongside your current teaching certificate.
Master’s in ESL degrees are another popular pursuit, as they provide a path to more and varied professional opportunities, greater earning potential, and a Professional Teaching Certificate (see Step 3.) For example, the University of Michigan offers a fully online MA in Education with TESOL that offers outstanding convenience and flexibility for in-service educators.
Already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field?
Michigan also offers a path to an alternative route to initial teaching certificate for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Through this program, you can complete an expedited teacher preparation program while holding an Interim Teaching Certificate (ITC). Learn more about becoming a teacher through Michigan’s alternative route to teacher certification here.
Career changers with bachelor’s degrees in other fields may also qualify for the many master’s degree programs housed within teacher preparation programs. These master’s degrees, which are often offered through the same schools that offer bachelor’s level programs, include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary for an initial teaching license.
Step 2. Pass the ESL MTTC and Apply for Your Michigan Teacher’s Certificate with ESL Endorsement
Once you have completed your ESL coursework and related teaching experience, you’ll need to take and pass the appropriate Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) exams depending on your area of initial certification.
You’ll also need to take and pass the English as a Second Language MTTC, which includes 100 multiple-choice questions designed to assess your knowledge of the following:
- Application of standards-based curriculum and assessment
- Language, Linguistics, and Comparisons
- Second Language Acquisition and Instructional Practices
Once you pass the MTTC, you’ll apply for your Michigan Standard Teaching certificate and ESL 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 ESL certification within five years after taking your ESL exam.
Step 3. Consider Earning a Master’s in ESL to Maintain and Upgrade Your Michigan Teaching Certificate
The Standard Teaching Certificate is valid for up to 5 years and is renewed by completing at least 150 hours of education-related professional learning or earning a master’s degree or higher.
Learn more about renewing your Standard Teaching Certificate here
You can advance to Michigan’s Professional Teaching Certificate, a 5-year teaching certificate with unlimited renewals, by completing at least 3 years of successful teaching experience, along with the completion of:
- 6 semester hours of reading methods coursework for elementary teachers and 3 semester credit hours for secondary teachers
- 3 semester credit hours of reading diagnostics and remediation
- At least 150 hours of education-related professional learning OR an education-related master’s degree or higher
You’ll keep your Professional Teaching Certificate current by completing at least 150 hours of education-related professional learning every 5 years.
Learn more about renewing your Professional Teaching Certificate here.
Step 4. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Michigan
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.
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.
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for educators in Michigan:
Early Career (25th percentile): $49,110
Experienced (90th percentile): $100,730
Early Career (25th percentile): $47,410
Experienced (90th percentile): $90,600
Early Career (25th percentile): $48,480
Experienced (90th percentile): $88,390
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Michigan in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Ann Arbor (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $50,770
Experienced (90th percentile): $104,220
Detroit (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $48,640
Experienced (90th percentile): $95,730
Lansing (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $47,000
Experienced (90th percentile): $81,880
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.