ESL Teacher Certification in Alabama

In Alabama, those seeking an opportunity to teach English language learners may receive a master's or bachelor's degree, depending on their path, and readers can learn about the necessary programs and exams individuals experience to prepare for this career.

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According to the Migration Policy Institute, there were 21,900 English learners enrolled in Alabama schools as of 2015. English as a second language (ESL) teachers can add so much value to the education these individuals receive by exploring new ways to teach them.

Requirements for Alabama ESL Teacher Certification

Average Salary for Alabama Teachers (2016)* $49,120 (Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education);
$49,310 (Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education);
$50,060 (Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education)
Required Degree Bachelor's Degree
Degree Field Applied Linguistics with TESOL Certification/ ESL Teaching
Testing Requirements Praxis: Core;
Praxis: Principles of Learning and Teaching;
Praxis: ESL

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Step 1: Earn a TESOL Degree

While some future educators in Alabama choose to acquire their Teachers of English to Student of Other Languages (TESOL) degree through a master's program, there are universities in Alabama that offer a bachelor's program. Some courses focus on diversity, assessing grammar, English linguistics, and teaching methodologies for ESL students. Applied linguistics programs, which may lead to teaching ESL students, include classes in sociolinguistics, cross-cultural interactions, and teaching English as a second language. Universities in Alabama also offer students a chance to try their hand at teaching during a student teaching experience. Some master's programs even offer a chance to teach college-level ESL students.

To gain entrance into a teacher preparation program in Alabama, applicants must first take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam. There are three parts to this test:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics

The reading and math tests include multiple-choice questions, while the writing portion is a mixture of multiple-choice and short answer. Test takers are given one hour and 23 minutes to one hour and 40 minutes to complete each test, and the fee for taking all three is $150. To pass, the reading test requires a score of 156, the writing section needs a 162, and the math portion requires a 150.

Step 2: Take and Pass Teaching Exams

Depending on the grade levels an individual would like to teach, Alabama requires a specific Principles of Learning and Teaching exam. Some examples are:

  • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6
  • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12

These tests are meant to test a future teacher's ability to manage a classroom, create engaging activities, and work alongside school administrators. Both of these tests consist of 70 multiple-choice questions and four short-answer questions, and each can take two hours to complete. The Grades K-6 test requires a passing score of 145, while the Grades 7-12 requires a 153.

Finally, ESL teachers will take the English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESL) test. With two and a half hours to answer a series of multiple-choice questions, test takers will explore their ability to teach non-native speakers. This exam costs $120 and a score of 149 is required.

Step 3: Pass Background Checks

To apply for a teaching position in Alabama, applicants are required to provide the Alabama State Department of Education with viable fingerprints. Registration costs nearly $47, but this is used to complete a background check.

Links for Future ESL Teachers

The links below are there to help individuals preparing for Core, PLT, and ESL exams in order for them to gain teacher certification in Alabama.

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