Teaching English as a Second Language

K-12 Teaching Licenses


The TESL licensure programs of study have been approved by the Minnesota Board of Teaching for a license in k-12 ESL.  ESL is a stand-alone licensure area in Minnesota, which means that it is possible for a teacher to be licensed in ESL only and not be qualified to teach any other subjects in the schools.  An undergraduate student wanting to work in k-12 schools should plan to pursue the undergraduate TESL licensure program of study instead of the minor program of study, and this program of study will be in addition to the major course of study in another subject area.  Although a license in another are isn't required by the Board of Teaching, a bachelor's degree is, and TESL isn't available as a major at MSUM.  Additionally, the market is highly competitive for teaching jobs, and holding a license in ESL may limit one's job prospects too much.

The program of study to be pursued by a graduate level student seeking k-12 licensure will depend on whether the student already holds a current teaching license in Minnesota or not.  A graduate student with a valid license in another k-12 licensure area (such as elementary education, secondary math, or Spanish education), should choose the graduate licensure program of study.  A student with a previous degree in a noneducation major would do best to pursue the undergraduate licensure program instead of pursuing the graduate level program, since a number of undergraduate courses, the education core, will be required.

North Dakota

Because ESL is an endorsement area in North Dakota rather than a stand-alone licensure area, an individual who wishes to work in the North Dakota k-12 schools must plan to obtain a full degree in another education major before the TESL program will result in the state ESL endorsement.  The undergraduate licensure program may be added to an English, math, social studies, science, or elementary education major to lead to a certificate to teach both core content and ESL in North Dakota, as it does for Minnesota.

At the graduate level, however, the graduate certificate alone is sufficient for an individual who already holds a North Dakota teaching certificate to lead to an add-on ESL endorsement.  The larger graduate licensure program needn't be pursued by these individuals.

Graduate level students who do not hold a teaching certificate in North Dakota must pursue the undergraduate level licensure program, and must make sure to pursue both a licensure program for another subject area and the program for ESL.

Other States

Since licensure requirements vary from state to state, students interested in licensure in other states should obtain information specific to the state of interest.  The standards for Minnesota and North Dakota are provided through links on the Web Resources page, which can be accessed via the right side bar.  Information for other states can likely be obtained by Googling the department of education of that state.

Mainstream Teachers Not Seeking ESL Licensure

In addition to the pursuit of training for the purposes of becoming an ESL teacher, mainstream classroom teachers may be interested in taking classes to help them better understand ELs in the mainstream classes.  Such a person may be interested in the TESL emphasis within the Curriculum and Instruction Master's Degree. This emphasis consists of 13 credits from the TESL program along with 19 credits from the C& I program.

Certain individual classes may be of special interest to mainstream teachers needing credits for continuation of licensing credentials.  They may find TESL 627 Cultures in the Schools  or TESL 672 Content-based Instruction highly interesting.

For more information, please contact the person listed below:

TESL Program Coordinator: Linda Houts-Smith, Ph.D.
Office: 279 B MacLean Hall
Office Telephone: 218-477-4059
e-mail: houtsli@mnstate.edu