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Teaching English As a Second Language (ESL) in Pennsylvania

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What are the requirements to staff ESL teaching positions?

​All ESL teachers must hold the Program Specialist ESL certificate.

​How can PA teachers be eligible for the ESL certificate? 

​The teacher must hold a Pennsylvania Instructional I or Instructional II certificate and successfully complete an approved ESL preparation program.  Both programs may be taken concurrently.

Will the Program Specialist certificate remain valid and active if the PA Instructional certificate becomes invalid and/or inactive?

No. The prerequisite Instructional certificate must be valid and active in order for the Program Specialist to remain valid and active.

​Can teachers holding an out-of-state ESL certificate be eligible for the Program Specialist ESL certificate if they are not eligible for a Pennsylvania Instructional certificate?

​Yes, if the valid and current out-of-state ESL certificate required a full, instructional program with student teaching, and all other certification requirements are met.

​Is there a test required for the issuance of the ESL certificate? 

​No. There is currently no test requirement for ESL.

​Must the courses be at the graduate level? 


​Are teachers holding the ESL certificate required to complete continuing education requirements of Act 48?


​Where can teachers find information on PDE-approved providers for ESL certification?

​A list of approved providers is on the website: Approved Certification Programs.

​Is service on the ESL certificate counted towards the issuance of the Instructional Level II certificate? 

​Yes, if service is at least half-time.  Service on the ESL certificate will count against the validity of the Instructional certificate(s). 

​Are credits earned through the ESL preparation program accepted towards Level II certification? 

​Yes, if the credits are post-baccalaureate.

Will service on the ESL certificate count against the validity of the Instructional I certificate?

​Yes, if service is in a Pennsylvania non-charter public school entity.  The pre-requisite Instructional certificate must be valid in order for the Program Specialist certificate to be valid.

​Can an ESL teacher give English credit?

​Yes, if the Program Specialist also holds a PA Instructional I or II certificate in English.

​How do I apply for the ESL certificate?

​You will need to register and submit an online application in the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).  The credential you will apply for is Program Specialist and the subject is English as a Second Language.