New Mexico’s foreign-born population is one of the nation’s largest. Nearly 1 in 10 residents here hail from an international background, with about 70 percent from Mexico. The role they play in the economy here cannot be overstated, given that they make up about one-quarter of the construction trades, and are vital to agriculture too, representing about two-fifths of all fishermen, farmers, and foresters in the state.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), English language learners (ELLs) comprise nearly 16 percent of all students in New Mexico’s public school system, so it comes as little surprise that ESL was identified by the U.S. Department of Labor as a teacher shortage area in the 2020-2021 school year.
These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification and become an ESL teacher in New Mexico:
Step 1. Earn a Degree in TESOL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in New Mexico
In New Mexico, learning how to become an ESL teacher involves earning a TESOL endorsement alongside an elementary, secondary, or special education teaching license.
If you’re new to the teaching field and don’t yet have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll want to complete a bachelor’s or master’s in TESOL that’s part of an approved educator preparation program, which includes all of the necessary pedagogical and hands-on learning experience needed for a teaching certificate in New Mexico.
You’ll major in elementary education or in a single subject at the secondary level (many aspiring ESL teachers choose English or language arts) and then choose TESOL as a minor, track, or concentration.
For example, New Highlands University offers an ESL minor that includes at least two semesters of a second language and courses in:
- Introduction to Modern Grammar
- Language Acquisition and Ling for Teachers
- Theories and Principles of Bilingual Education
Already a certified teacher and want to add a TESOL endorsement?
If you’re already a licensed teacher in New Mexico, you can complete the required TESOL coursework through an undergraduate or graduate certificate program or master’s in ESL.
For example, Eastern New Mexico University offers both a 12-hour graduate-level program leading to a TESOL endorsement and an MEd with a concentration in ESL or Pedagogy and Learning with a concentration in ESL.
Already have a bachelor’s in another field?
If you completed a bachelor’s in another field, you may complete a master’s degree in ESL leading to initial licensure. Many schools that offer bachelor’s level teacher preparation programs also offer programs at the master’s level for career changers like you. These programs include all of the necessary coursework and practical learning experiences necessary to earn ESL certification in New Mexico.
You may also qualify for New Mexico’s alternative licensure programs:
Step 2. Pass the Necessary Praxis Exams
The New Mexico Public Education Department’s Professional Licensure Bureau requires that all teacher candidates pass basic skills and content testing in their desired teaching area.
As of 2020, all new educators must take and pass the appropriate Praxis exams, which include the appropriate subject assessments, as well as the Praxis II English to Speakers of Other Languages exam for those seeking a TESOL endorsement.
Step 3. Apply for Your New Mexico Teaching License
When you have completed the necessary requirements above, you are ready to apply for your New Mexico Teaching License (and TESOL endorsement) using the New Mexico Public Education Department’s licensure portal. You’ll earn a Level 1 teaching license, which is valid for 5 years.
If you’re applying for a TESOL endorsement as a licensed educator, you’ll complete an Endorsement Application through the licensure portal. Learn more about applying for a TESOL endorsement here.
Step 4. Consider Earning a Master’s in ESL as Part of Maintaining and Upgrading Your New Mexico Teaching License
New Mexico maintains a three-tiered licensing process.
Your Level 1 teaching license is valid for five years. To upgrade it to a Level 2 license, you must:
- Complete three years of full-time teaching experience (with at least 160 days per year) under the Level 1 license
- Complete a Professional Development Dossier (PDD) to demonstrate your professional growth during the past three years.
If you wish to upgrade your Level 2 license to a Level 3, you must complete three years of full-time teaching experience (with at least 160 days per year) under the Level 2 license and meet one of the following requirements:
- Earn a master’s degree and submit a Professional Development Dossier
- Become certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Graduate Degrees for TESOL Teachers in New Mexico
As you can see above, earning a graduate teaching degree can help you to advance your license in New Mexico’s professional licensure system. Possibilities for TESOL teachers seeking master’s degrees in New Mexico are:
- Master of Education in TESOL
- Master of Arts in Education – TESOL Specialization
- Master of Arts in Teaching – Elementary TESOL
- Master of Arts in Teaching – Secondary TESOL
- Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction – TESOL Concentration
Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Nebraska
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for educators in New Mexico:
Early Career (25th percentile): $47,150
Experienced (90th percentile): $92,110
Early Career (25th percentile): $43,040
Experienced (90th percentile): $69,600
Early Career (25th percentile): $45,870
Experienced (90th percentile): $80,820
BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in some of New Mexico’s largest metro areas, as of May 2020:
Albuquerque (Elementary School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $46,900
Experienced (90th percentile): $84,240
Farmington (Middle School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $56,520
Experienced (90th percentile): $101,210
Santa Fe (High School)
Early Career (25th percentile): $52,010
Experienced (90th percentile): $91,010
Find ESL teachers jobs near you by searching the New Mexico Regional Education Applicant Placement (REAP) – a free online job portal and learn more about teaching ESL in New Mexico by joining the New Mexico Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and secondary school teachers. Figures represent state data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2021.
National Center for Education Statistics, English language learner (ELL) students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, fall 2000 through fall 2018. Data accessed June 2021.