Policy guideline on ESOL/TESOL qualifications for Teacher Licenses

Number: 
45-0427
Date Issued: 
04/27/2018

Specific standards are in law and regulation governing the required pre-licensure training and education for those seeking to be an ESOL/TESOL teacher at either a licensed private career school or a ESL school.  ESOL teachers work with English Language Learners (ELLs), or those students for whom English is not their primary language.  ESOL teachers work to help students acquire fluency in English, both spoken and in the written word.  ESOL teachers also serve as a cultural bridge for students, linking a student’s native culture with their new cultural experience in the United States.  However, ESOL teachers should not be confused with foreign language teachers.  Unlike foreign language teachers, who educate students with whom they share a common language, ESOL teachers most often educate students with whom they do not share a common language.

There is an often-inconsistent definition of what constitutes each type of education and training.  For this purpose, the following definitions will apply.

  • Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL): TESL involves teaching English to speakers of other languages and it most often interchanged with the term ESL teaching/teachers.
  • Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): The acronym TESOL is a general industry term used to describe educating English Learners.  A TESOL program is a program used to train teachers to teach ESOL. 
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL): TEFL involves teaching English abroad where English is not the primary language.
  • English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL): The term ESOL is generally used when describing programs outside of a PK-12 setting that are designed for English Language Learners  who seek proficiency in social and academic language; ESOL programs, which may also be referred to as English as a Second Language programs, generally teach basic grammar, vocabulary and colloquial terms and phrases to ELLs in a community college, community program, or online program setting.

For ESOL Teachers in Licensed Private Career Schools

The statutory and regulatory sections are highlighted below:

Education Law § 5002(6)(a) states “No person shall be employed by a private career school as a director or teacher who is not licensed in such capacity by the department pursuant to regulations of the commissioner, which shall take into consideration such factors as moral character, educational qualifications and practical experience.”

8 CRR-NY 126.6(f) “All teachers in licensed private career schools shall meet the requirements of this subdivision.

(1) Teachers shall meet the following requirements:

(i) have completed an approved four-year high school program or hold a valid high school equivalency diploma; and

(ii) have the required preparation and training set forth in either clause (a) or (b) of this subparagraph:

(a) at least two years of practical experience acceptable to the commissioner in the subject area or occupation to be taught. Teaching experience will not be accepted in lieu of practical experience; or

(b) for specific business subject areas only:

(1) the candidate shall hold a valid permit: …

(iii) for a permit in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), an applicant shall have been awarded a baccalaureate or equivalent degree from an institution whose programs are registered or recognized by the department; and either:

(A) shall have successfully completed an approved 30-clock-hour course in teaching English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) from a proprietary school association recognized by the commissioner; or

(B) shall have been awarded three semester hour credits in teaching ESOL from an institution whose programs are registered or recognized by the department…” (emphasis added)

8 CRR-NY 126.6(4)(ii) states “For a provisional license for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), an applicant shall have successfully completed either three semester credit hours of study in approved course work in general teaching methods from an institution whose programs are registered or recognized by the department, or an approved 30-clock-hour program in general teaching methods or methods of teaching English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) from a proprietary school association recognized by the commissioner.” (emphasis added)

8 CRR-NY 126.6(5)(ii) states “For a full license to teach English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), an applicant shall have successfully completed:

(a) coursework in methods of teaching ESOL totaling 60 clock hours from a proprietary school association recognized by the commissioner or three semester credits from a program registered or recognized by the department; and

(b) coursework in general teaching methods totaling 30 clock hours from a proprietary school association recognized by the commissioner or three semester credits from a program registered or recognized by the department.” (emphasis added)

While the requirements for each level of teacher license are laid out in regulation, there continues to be concern over what constitutes acceptable and approved programs.

College and University education

The first acceptable course is that which is credit bearing post-secondary education offered from an institution whose programs are registered or recognized by the department.  This means a regionally accredited college or university within the United States, or from a college or university recognized and accredited by the government of the nation where the institution is housed.  College credit hours from an eligible institution is the most straightforward method to provide verifiable and eligible ESL/TESOL training.  The individual seeking to utilize this method needs to provide a transcript from the college or university which shows the conferral of a degree and the course names, credit, and grades from those courses used to document three semester hour credits in teaching ESOL.

Program approved by the Department

The second acceptable course is measured in clock hours and offered by a proprietary school association recognized by the commissioner.   This means that the clock hour course must be from an entity that is approved to offer such courses by the department.  While there are many ESL/TESOL programs offered internationally or even on-line.  Many of these are not deemed as approved or recognized by the department due to a lack of verifiable educational standards, a lack of adequate classroom preparation, and/or unknown methods or instruction or qualifications of instructors.   Courses or programs which are not approved by the department are not eligible to be used as meeting the criteria for a teacher license.  An on-line course may not be used as the initial qualifying course under 8 CRR-NY 126.6(f).

Those non-credit programs recognized by the department include:

  • CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is an initial teacher training qualification for teaching English as a second language (ESL). It is provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment through authorized Cambridge English Teaching Qualification centers and can be taken either full-time or part-time.
  • Certificate in English Language Teaching (CELT) recognized through Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) which is responsible for the external quality assurance of further and higher education and training. 
  • TESOL Certificate (non-credit) offered by Teachers College, Columbia University
  • The LADO TEFL Program administered by the LADO International Institute
  • ESL #1 – Introduction to Teaching ESL offered by the Coalition of New York State Career Schools
  • ESL # 2 – ESL Performance Skills Development offered by the Coalition of New York State Career Schools

For ESOL teachers in ESL schools

8 NYCRR 126.10(j)(3)(iii)(a) states “Teachers providing instruction in English as a second language programs at a nonpublicly funded ESL school shall have been awarded a baccalaureate or equivalent degree from an institution licensed or recognized by the department; and have successfully completed either an English as a second language training program recognized by the department or one year of teaching experience in an English as a second language program.”

The regulation requires a baccalaureate degree and either a recognized ESL training program or one year of teaching experience.  For the purposes of meeting the requirement for a recognized ESL training program, the following programs are recognized as meeting the requirement.

  • CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is an initial teacher training qualification for teaching English as a second language (ESL). It is provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment through authorized Cambridge English Teaching Qualification centers and can be taken either full-time or part-time.
  • Certificate in English Language Teaching (CELT) recognized through Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) which is responsible for the external quality assurance of further and higher education and training. 
  • TESOL Certificate (non-credit) offered by Teachers College, Columbia University
  • The LADO TEFL Program administered by the LADO International Institute
  • ESL #1 – Introduction to Teaching ESL offered by the Coalition of New York State Career Schools
  • ESL # 2 – ESL Performance Skills Development offered by the Coalition of New York State Career Schools

Questions regarding this guideline should be addressed to BPSSteachers@nysed.gov