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How to Become an ESL Teacher in Louisiana

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With the number of students learning English as a second language steadily climbing in Louisiana, the need for ESL teachers has created a shortage throughout the state. In addition to addressing the needs of a growing ESL population, Louisiana faces another challenge and that is helping these students graduate. According to the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA), English language learners in Louisiana have one of the lowest graduation rates in the U.S.

The requirements for becoming an English as a Second Language teacher in Louisiana depend on the institution or position. If the institution is a public school in Louisiana, the requirements may even vary based on the parish school system.

What Does It Take to Become an ESL Teacher in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, parishes set the requirements rather than the state. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages International Association (TESOL), an organization devoted to advancing teaching English language learners, describes the typical requirements for becoming a qualified ELL (English Language Learner) teacher in the U.S.:

Most teaching positions in U.S. public schools require the applicant to hold a teaching license in the subject they wish to teach, issued by the state in which they wish to work. Confusingly, this license is sometimes called a “certificate” or “certification.” This is not the same thing as CELTA, Trinity, or other independent certificates, which are generally not applicable toward employment in U.S. public schools.

The “ESL certificate” referred to in most job announcements for positions in the United States is actually a licensure that teachers must apply for and receive through the Department of Education in the state in which they will be working. To obtain this certificate, individuals must meet certain academic requirements which vary from one state to another. To receive a license, most states require at least a bachelor’s degree in education, although some states now require a master’s degree.

Louisiana legislation and State Board policy mandated the following requirements for becoming an ELL teacher as outlined by the State of Louisiana:

  • Possess a valid standard teaching certificate.
  • Complete add-on ESL endorsement by taking four courses for a total of 12 hours.

The Louisiana Department of Education maintains information on teaching authorizations and certifications for the state. After earning the ESL certification, teachers can maintain it by fulfilling the renewal guidelines for their certificate type. The state also provides English Learner resources to help teachers improve outcomes for ELLs.

How to Prepare to Teach ELLs in Different Settings

Teachers who wish to may want to explore enrolling in an approved M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction program with a concentration in ESL.

The Louisiana Department of Education and the Board of Regents review and recommend Louisiana teacher preparation programs. The University of Louisiana Monroe is approved for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate programs.

ULM’s online Master of Education, Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in English as a Second Language (ESL) program teaches students how groups and cultural identities affect learning and school achievement. The required coursework not only covers language learning topics but also other important education topics to prepare students for roles as ESL teachers and leaders.

Although a 100% online program, the coursework includes practicums to provide students with hands-on supervised experiences. Students can in as few as 15 months and be ready to work as an ESL teacher, administrator, curriculum supervisor or instructional coordinator.

Learn more about ULM’s online M.Ed. C&I ESL program.

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