With just 3.2 percent of the total PreK-12 student population in Mississippi identified as English Language Learners (ELLs), this southern state may not be the first to come to mind when considering ESL teacher demand. But growth among ELLs in Mississippi has been steady throughout much of the last decade, sparking a persistent call for qualified ESL teachers.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were 14,771 ELLs in Mississippi in 2018 – a rather large jump from 12,865 just a year earlier.
Mississippi has long suffered from a lack of qualified teachers, and ESL teachers are becoming a clear frontrunner in terms of demand. Earn the ESL endorsement alongside your Mississippi teaching certificate and you’ll be part of a growing number of educators who are committing their careers to the state’s ELLs.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification and become an ESL teacher in Mississippi:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in ESL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Mississippi
In Mississippi, you can pursue a career as an ESL teacher by adding ESL certification (K-12) — called a supplemental endorsement — to your existing teaching certificate.
If you’re new to the field of education and you haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree, learning how to become an ESL teacher involves completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree within an approved educator preparation program in either elementary, special, or secondary (in a single subject area) education and then choosing a TESOL minor, concentration, or track.
You’ll find a nice selection of schools that offer a TESOL endorsement program alongside an education degree, including Mississippi College, which offers a TESOL Minor, and the University of Mississippi, which offers an ESL Endorsement program.
Already a Mississippi certified teacher and want to add an ESL Endorsement?
If you’re already a certified Mississippi educator, you’ll find plenty of ESL programs that will get you the ESL coursework you need to earn an ESL supplemental endorsement. Undergraduate and graduate certificates in TESOL are commonplace, as are master’s degree programs.
The University of Mississippi, for example, offers a few options for practicing teachers, including:
- An 18-hour graduate certificate in TESOL
- MA in Modern Languages, emphasis in Applied Linguistics + TESOL
- ESL Endorsement – a four-course program for K-12 teachers
Certificate programs offer a fast path to an ESL endorsement, while a master’s degree program in TESOL offers educators more professional opportunities and a bigger paycheck, in most cases.
Certificate programs leading to an ESL supplemental endorsement usually include courses like:
- Applied linguistics
- Methods & curriculum design
- Second language acquisition
- The multicultural classroom
A master’s in ESL often includes the following courses:
- Applied linguistics in second and foreign languages
- Foundations of multicultural education
- Second language acquisition theory and practice
- Sociocultural and sociolinguistic perspectives in language
- Teaching second languages: theory and practice
Already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field?
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may be able to earn an initial teaching certificate through one of Mississippi’s alternate routes for certification. These include:
- Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program
- Teach Mississippi Institute
- American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence
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 programs that include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary to become certified as an educator in Mississippi.
Step 2. Pass the Required Praxis Exam
While Mississippi does not require you to take a standardized ESL exam, you will need to pass the appropriate Praxis exam that correspond to the grade level/subject you plan to teach.
You will take a different exam depending on whether you obtained your degree through a teacher preparation program or through an alternate route.
If you graduated from a teacher preparation program, you need to take the Praxis II Principles of Learning & Teaching (PPLT).
For an alternate route, you have to take the Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE).
Step 3. Apply for your Mississippi Teacher’s License and ESL Endorsement
After you have passed your Praxis exam and the certification officer through the college or university where you completed your teacher preparation program recommends you for licensure, you’ll apply for your Mississippi teacher license through the Educator Licensure Management System.
If you completed a bachelor’s degree through an approved teacher preparation program, you’ll qualify for a Class A license. If you have an education degree with a graduate ESL endorsement, you’ll qualify for a Class AA license.
Step 4. Consider Earning a Master’s in ESL to Maintain Your Teaching License
The Mississippi Department of Education requires that all teachers show evidence of the completion of professional development to maintain their teacher’s license. This can be done by taking Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or through ESL related coursework:
The requirements to renew a Class A license are one of the following:
- 10 CEUs related to ESL teaching
- 3 semester credits and 5 CEUs
- 6 semester credits
If you are renewing a higher-level license such as a Class AA one, you only need one of the following:
- 3 semester credits
- 5 CEUs
One of the ways you can meet these requirements is by obtaining an education master’s degree, which are available with an ESL concentration. In addition to helping you advance in a K-12 teaching position, having a master’s degree on top of your ESL education makes you competitive for jobs teaching English at foreign universities.
District-Based Professional Development for ESL Teachers
Given that the needs of ESL students are constantly in flux, Mississippi requires that school districts provide programs to meet the professional needs of ESL teachers. The district’s program administrator is required to contribute to the following types of professional development opportunities for these teachers:
- High-quality professional development activities that are based in research on ELL education
- Allowing ESL teachers to attend at least one ESL professional development activity outside of their district a year
- Ensuring that ESL teacher professional development activities are available in the district
- Teaching ESL teachers to develop appropriate instructional practices and curricula
Step 5. Learn More ESL Salary Expectations for Jobs in Mississippi
Join the professional organization that represents ESL teachers in Mississippi: Alabama-Mississippi Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (AMTESOL) to learn about professional development and job opportunities.
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for educators in Mississippi:
Early Career (25th percentile): $36,730
Experienced (90th percentile): $57,390
Early Career (25th percentile): $39,670
Experienced (90th percentile): $64,510
Early Career (25th percentile): $37,950
Experienced (90th percentile): $63,250
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Mississippi in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Gulfport (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $41,180
Experienced (90th percentile): $61,070
Hattiesburg (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $41,210
Experienced (90th percentile): $61,830
Jackson (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $36,800
Experienced (90th percentile): $62,960
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.