If you want to be a teacher in the United States, you will have to go to college, earn your bachelor's degree, take the appropriate tests and meet the certification requirements in your individual state. Each state has slightly different certification requirements and opportunities for teachers depending on the needs of children in that state. In California, there are more English language learners, or ELL students, enrolled in public school than anywhere else in the U.S., and teachers can obtain their CTEL certificate in order to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to teach these students.

What Is a CTEL Certification?

The U.S. is a country of immigrants, many of whom come from countries in which English is not spoken. In the state of California alone, 21 percent of students enrolled in public school are English language learners, according to the National Center for Education Statistics as of fall 2015. This is the highest percentage in any state in the country, and the number will continue to increase as more and more people move to the U.S., and the population continues to grow. Because of these numbers, California has many programs in place to help teachers better serve this population.

One of these programs or initiatives is one in which teachers can obtain a CTEL certificate. CTEL stands for "California Teachers of English Learners," and it's a certificate that teachers can earn that demonstrates their ability to successfully teach ELL students. Holding the certificate ensures that the teacher can provide these ELL students with the skills they need in order to be able to communicate in English and thereby be successful in school.

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Why Get a CTEL Certification?

If you're a teacher in California, then it's very likely that you'll have a number of students in your class or classes who are learning English for the very first time. Along with the challenges that school already presents for most kids, imagine trying to have to learn hard subjects in a language you don't understand in a country that's completely new to you. To make it more difficult, most of these students have parents who do not speak English either, which means that it's up to the teachers to support these students as best as possible. A CTEL certificate can give teachers the knowledge, skills and experience they need to not only make a difference in the lives of these students but to further understand their culture and where they come from. Best of all, teachers can earn the CTEL certificate online.

How to Get a CTEL Certificate Online

Teachers are already busy enough with teaching, and having to go to school on top of that (which many teachers do in order to further their education) can be extremely difficult. Luckily, there are CTEL certification programs offered online so that you can have a little more flexibility with your time. The programs are usually eight weeks long and consist of four different CTEL/CLAD courses, with each course being worth three credits. Many different universities offer this course, but if you do an internet search, the first schools that will come up are Brandman University, Alliant International University, UC San Diego Extension and University of California Riverside Extension.

You might see that some of these CTEL/CLAD courses are tied to a CLAD authorization too. CLAD stands for "Crosscultural, Language and Academic Development" and it is an authorization that you'll typically get at the same time that you earn your CTEL certificate. Each university will have its own spin on the program and at different costs too. Generally, they teach the same content and therefore require the same eligibility criteria. To get an idea of what this involves, the CTEL and CLAD program overview at Brandman University states that in order to be eligible to apply, you must already hold a CTC designated credential, and you must submit an application to the CTEL and CLAD program. Some other programs, such as the one at UC San Diego, state that you must pass all your course work and tests and maintain a GPA of 3.0 to pass the program.

Skills Taught in a CTEL Certification Online Program

In the CTEL program, you can expect to learn the appropriate skills required to effectively support ELL students in your classroom. For instance, according to the website for Alliant International University, the four courses required are:

  • Development of Cross-Cultural Competencies
  • Theory and Method of Second Language Teaching
  • Assessment and Instruction of English Learners
  • Principles of Linguistics

Within these classes, you will learn the best teaching methodologies for ELL students based on the different language difficulties they may face. You will also be taught about cultural understanding and sensitivity so you can learn something from your students too.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.