The Department of Education has recently published its annual “Teacher Shortage Nationwide List” for 2017/2018. This list is a reference document that is intended to identify the nation’s teacher shortage areas by state.
The data for the state of Texas shows that Bilingual/English as a Second Language teacher shortages have persisted every year since 1990, the first year included in the report.
Bilingual Student Numbers in Texas Keep Growing
“Texas schools have added more than 300,000 bilingual students in the past decade,” according to research by The Texas Tribune. Since 2011, the number of bilingual full-time equivalent positions in Texas has been increasing, but bilingual and ESL teachers are still considered a shortage area. More than half of Texas public school students are Hispanic, and that percentage is increasing. It’s clear that the number of certified ESL teachers hasn’t kept pace with the growth in student enrollment.
The Dallas Morning News reports, “There are not enough newly certified bilingual teachers to replace all those who are retiring.” The fact that the number of language minority students continues to increase makes it clear that teachers are needed who can teach them appropriately.
Overcoming Obstacles in Recruiting Bilingual Teachers
The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) published recommendations on how to overcome the difficulties that districts across the state are experiencing with hiring bilingual and ESL educators. Bilingual teachers are often paid a stipend or, less commonly, a signing bonus, although that may not be seen as adequate to cover the additional work required of them.
One of the TASB recommendations in their HR Exchange Newsletter was “for districts to allocate appropriate funds for teachers in shortage areas, and equally as important for HR staff to publicize all the benefits they offer these educators.”
The ESL Teacher Shortage Is an Opportunity
The need for bilingual educators is so high that some districts are importing teaching candidates from Puerto Rico, Mexico and Spain. While Spanish is the most common primary language of bilingual students, some districts are seeking candidates who are fluent in other languages like Vietnamese, Chinese and Hindi. A quick check at job board websites like ZipRecruiter shows that as of January 2018, there were over 6,000 job openings for bilingual teachers in Texas.
Lamar University Master of Education in Teacher Leadership with a Specialization in ESL Online
Lamar University is a member of the Texas State University System, and the Master of Education in Teacher Leadership with a Specialization in ESL is a fully online program designed for teachers who want to add ESL specialization to their teaching certification.
Participants gain insight into the educational needs of English language learners and also build key relationships with school community stakeholders including students, teachers, faculty, parents and the community at large. This program also teaches how to develop instructional programs that will assist, instruct and support these learners.
The program consists of 36 hours of coursework and offers multiple start dates per year.
Learn more about the Lamar University M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership with a Specialization in ESL online program.