Getting Licensed In Your Own US State: Interview With Tracy Ann

Tracy Ann, who recently took and passed the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), was kind enough to share her insight and impressions with the TEFL Logue. The prospect of becoming a licensed teacher in your own country is one of the steps associated with working in international schools (often – though not always – even in ELT). You can read about the insight of a teacher who moved from a language school environment to an international school right here.

Back to Tracy Ann: How is the MTEL set up?
Tracy Ann’s test consisted of two parts: ESL (now called English Language Learners) and Communications and Literacy (C&L), and is designed to certify teachers to teach what is now called ELL in public schools.

Once you pass those tests with a score of 80% or more, you still have to apply and be approved for a license. There are several levels of licenses, but because Tracy Ann has a BS and an MS (in a subject not connected to language teaching) she can get a license based only on the degrees and her MTEL success.

What was the test like?
“The C&L test was what you’d expect, reading comprehension, technical grammar questions, etc. The ELL test caught me totally off guard. First there was a listening part – you had to listen to a short thing on a CD and answer an absurdly easy question. At the end there was a part where they asked you a question and you had one minute to formulate a one minute oral answer.

But the middle, oh the middle!!

It was about 75 multiple choice questions about teaching methods and theorists and learning styles. This test was clearly designed based on the idea that you had taken education courses. I had a heads up the day before the test, so I grabbed a bunch of text books from the library. You absolutely could teach the stuff to yourself, if you’re that kind of learner, but you really need some kind of studying. I have no idea how I passed it – good guessing! So… I didn’t prepare, but I should have!”

How does it affect the outlook for employment?
Tracy’s direct and realistic about the employment prospects and her lack of background in education: though she will soon be technically “allowed” to teach in any public school in her state, “Whether or not I’d get hired, since I have no education experience, training, or knowledge, is questionable…Now, could I wing it in an ESL school? Sure. Could I wing it in a US School or International School? Probably not without getting fired. Moral of the story? Study or go to school for education, or at least take a couple classes, before attempting this test!”