ESL Teacher Requirements in Colorado

To obtain English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher certification in Colorado, a candidate must complete certain education and training requirements. Once these are satisfied, candidates may apply for teaching licensure and then the ESL endorsement.

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Globalization and increased migration into the U.S. has resulted in a significant increase of ELLs (English Language Learners) in Colorado. This has understandably led to a surge in demand for qualified ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers in the state. In Colorado, the ESL endorsement is actually known as the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Educator endorsement. In order to become an ESL (CLD) teacher in Colorado, teachers must obtain licensure and a CLD endorsement. Here, the steps that need to be followed to qualify for an initial teaching license and CLD endorsement are described.

ESL Teaching Certification Requirements in Colorado

Average Salary for Teachers in Colorado (2017)* $47,260 (Adult, Basic, and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
Testing Requirements No exam. CLD endorsement is earned by completing 24 hours of CLD coursework at a regionally accredited institution of higher education or by completing a Colorado State Board of Education-approved program for CLD Education

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Step 1: Earn a Degree

The first step to becoming an ESL teacher in Colorado is to obtain a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university or college. Aspiring ESL teachers should ideally complete a degree in a program such as Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education which will allow the candidate to undertake 24 semester hours of CLD coursework. In this instance, the candidate should complete a minimum of three hours of coursework in each of the following topics as set forth by the Colorado Department of Education:

  • First and Second Language Acquisition
  • Literary Development for CLD students
  • Knowledge of English and Linguistics
  • Assessment of Language Proficiency
  • Foundations in CLD Education
  • Teaching Strategies for CLD learners
  • CLD Field Experience

Alternatively, a candidate who did not complete the above requirements during a bachelor's or higher degree program can complete a Colorado State Board of Education-approved program for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education.

In either instance candidates should accrue student-teaching experience. As alluded to above, candidates undertaking 24 hours of CLD coursework as part of their bachelor's program should complete a minimum of three semester hours of CLD field experience to satisfy the teaching experience requirement.

Step 2: Complete the required CLD coursework or approved educator program

Teaching candidates do not have to pass an exam to qualify for the K-12 CLD endorsement. Candidates can earn the K-12 CLD endorsement by simply completing the 24 hours of CLD coursework described above, or a Colorado State Board of Education-approved program for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education.

Step 3: Apply for an Initial Teaching License with Endorsement

Once all of the licensing and endorsement requirements have been satisfied, candidates can apply for an initial teaching license through the Colorado Department of Education's online system (eLicensure). The initial license is valid for a period of 3 years. The application fee as of 2018 was $90.

During the initial licensure period, teachers should complete a Colorado State Board of Education-approved induction program. This will allow teachers to transition from an initial teaching license to a professional teaching license which is issued for five years. Teachers can renew their professional licenses anytime within 6 months of expiration. The application fee for this license upgrade was $90 as of 2018.

The CLD endorsement does not stand alone and may only be added to an existing teaching license. Again, candidates can apply for this by way of the eLicensure system. The application fee as of 2018 was $80.

ESL Teacher Certification Resources

Please follow the links below to access our resources for helping ESL teacher candidates pass their CLD coursework:

Resources for teaching English language learners

Activities for teaching English language learners

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