How Do I Get an ESL Endorsement in Illinois?


Illustration showing a teacher trying to earn an ESL endorsement in Illinois. This endorsement is necessary to teach English as a Second Language courses.

If you are a certified, practicing teacher in Illinois, you are ready to begin the process of getting an English as a Second Language Endorsement.

Teachers of the English language learners work with students from pre-kindergarten through high school who are not native English speakers.

An ESL teacher provides lessons and support to those students. Often, teachers work one on one with students or in small groups, but they may have classes of mixed ages and differing linguistic backgrounds.

ESL teachers bear the same responsibilities as regular teachers — lesson planning, grading and assessing, meeting with parents — but they must also find creative ways to help students grasp the complexities of the language and culture, tapping real-life scenarios to make learning meaningful.

This growing population of English language learners needs teachers who are dedicated, energetic and well-trained. In 2018, more than 217,000 Illinois students were English learners, and a third of those attended Chicago Public Schools. Another third attended schools in the suburbs of Chicago. ESL positions are more abundant in these districts.

To earn an ESL endorsement, there are two main requirements:

  1. You must earn 100 clock hours or three months of clinical experience in a public school ESL or bilingual education program.
  2. You must pass 18 hours of college coursework related to ESL teaching.

The state of Illinois requires the courses cover the following content areas:

  • Linguistics
  • Theoretical foundations of teaching ESL
  • Assessment of the bilingual student
  • Methods and materials for teaching ESL
  • Cross-cultural studies for teaching limited-proficiency students

How Do I Earn Clinical Experience?

Many teachers who are seeking ESL certification are already working with English language learners. If this is the case, you may just need documentation or a letter from your principal corroborating that you are serving English learners. Teachers can use their own classrooms to document field experience hours if they are in a setting where students are receiving ESL services.

Where Can I Take Classes Toward an ESL Endorsement?

Many colleges and universities offer programs that lead to an ESL endorsement. At Elmhurst University, students can choose how quickly they would like to complete the program, by taking one or two classes at a time, starting in summer, fall or spring.

Students who take two classes at a time will complete their 18 hours in one year. Classes in the ESL endorsement can be applied toward a master’s degree in teacher leadership.

Interested to know more? Complete the form below!

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