How Do I Get ESL Certified in Texas?

How Do I Get ESL Certified in Texas?

ESL certification is in high demand in Texas. Huge numbers of English language learners in the state, along with recent certification requirement changes by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), will only continue to drive the need for teachers qualified to teach English as a second language.

By becoming ESL certified in Texas, aspiring teachers can more easily pursue their dream career and fill a pressing need within the state. Here is what you need to know about ESL certification in Texas, and how Teacher Builder can help.

ESL certification in Texas: A growing need

Two factors are driving the need for ESL teachers in Texas. Here is a brief look at both.

English learners

With 1 million English learners representing 18 percent of students in the state, Texas has the highest percentage of English learners in the country. These numbers continue to rise within Texas, representing a pressing need for qualified teachers to support their language learning, particularly in the 13 school districts that have more than 15,000 English learners each.

ESL certification requirement changes

In order to ensure that these English learners receive high quality education and language learning support, the Texas Education Agency recently changed the requirements for ESL certification. These changes broadened the circumstances under which schools needed to provide an ESL-certified teacher for classrooms containing English learners. As a result, school districts require more ESL-certified teachers and often prefer an ESL-certified teacher over one who is not.

In light of these trends, ESL certification is a path worth pursuing for many individuals who are preparing to teach in Texas.

Do all Texas teachers have to be ESL certified?

According to TEA, the certification requirements do not mean that all teachers must possess ESL certification. Instead, they apply only to teachers who work within an ESL program approved by the state.

The expansion of ESL certification requirements beginning in 2018 has led some to wonder whether all teachers must now possess ESL certification in order to work in Texas.

If you want, you can therefore look for school districts that do not require ESL certification in Houston, Texas, or elsewhere.

However, the new requirements do increase the need for ESL-certified teachers within school districts, making certification an extremely desirable quality of teaching candidates and expanding their ability to work across programs, classrooms, and schools. Aspiring teachers would be wise to consider adding ESL certification to their career preparations.

What is ESL certification in Texas and how does an aspiring teacher obtain it?

Certification consists of completing TESOL education requirements and passing a supplemental exam in addition to your content (PPR) exam.

What follows is a look at the basic process aspiring teachers should follow to earn their teaching certification, with the addition of an ESL certification.

1. Fulfill TESOL requirements

All aspiring teachers in Texas must complete a bachelor’s degree. In addition, they must complete a teacher education program, either as part of their bachelor degree program or as part of an alternative teacher certification program.

Individuals who wish to become ESL certified must also complete what are called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) education requirements.

Education courses in TESOL are typically part of an educator preparation course and take the form of a separate degree or certification in addition to your bachelor degree.

Expect to address some of the following topics in your TESOL courses:

  • Cultural diversity
  • Linguistics
  • Pedagogy of learning English
  • ESL student teaching
  • Crafting an ESL curriculum

There are a number of avenues you can pursue to complete your TESOL requirements:

  • As part of an educator preparation program taken as part of your 4-year bachelor degree program at a university or college
  • As part of an alternative teacher certification program like Teacher Builder
  • As a separate graduate certification course for teachers who already hold teaching degrees and who wish to add ESL certification to their qualifications.

2. Complete basic skills and PPR exams

Once you have your bachelor degree and have completed your TESOL courses, you will need to take the following tests to receive your teaching certification:

  • Basic Skills Test
  • PPR Exam for early childhood (EC) through 12th grade

These tests will demonstrate your competencies in foundational subjects like reading and math and your basic competencies as a teacher. All aspiring teachers in Texas must pass these exams to earn certification.

3. Take the supplemental ESL test

In order to earn your ESL certification for Texas, you will need to take an additional ESL exam that corresponds to the grade level you plan to teach. They are as follows:

  • ESL Exam 193 for EC through grade 6
  • ESL Exam 120 for grades 4-8
  • ESL Exam 154 for grades 9-12 or to add ESL certification to an existing teaching certification

4. Apply for your teaching certification

Once you have passed the required exams, you can apply for your ESL teaching certification. If you are a first-time teacher, you will complete this application as part of your application for your teaching license. This process will include submitting transcripts and test scores and submitting to fingerprinting and a background check.

Prepare through Teacher Builder

If you choose to pursue ESL certification, you will need to pursue a TESOL program as part of your educator preparation course. There is no better place to prepare for your ESL teaching certification than Teacher Builder.

Our full online alternative teacher certification program allows you to study in any of more than 25 areas, including ESL. Fulfill your TESOL, and teaching certification, requirements anytime and anywhere, with a curriculum that is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Easy, efficient, and flexible, Teacher Builder puts ESL certification at your fingertips. Pursue your dream teaching career today and prepare for one of the thousands of teaching jobs available in Texas every year with a program that allows you to study at your pace and supports you through your first year of teaching.

Call Teacher Builder today to learn more about how our accredited online program can equip you to teach ESL in Texas.


Learn more about the tools you need to pass your teacher certification exam!

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