Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) (M.A., Licensure)


Teacher candidates in Minnesota are required to get licensure before they can begin their K-12 teaching career. Obtaining a license requires both passing state tests and completing a required number of hours of student teaching.


Students applying for a K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) license will also need to have taken two sets of tests: PPST or Praxis I and Praxis II.

PPST or Praxis I

The first test, the PPST or Praxis I, should be taken at the beginning of a teacher education. This test has three subsections: reading, writing and arithmetic. Essentially, the test determines whether a potential teacher has the reading, writing and math skills of a high school graduate in the state of Minnesota. For individuals beginning a teacher education program, they would need to take this test as early as possible in their degree program, as some courses may require that the test be taken. 

Students should note that you do not have to pass the test to continue taking courses in a teacher education program, but you would need to pass the test before you can receive a teaching license. Previously licensed teachers seeking a second license are not required to take or to retake PPST or Praxis I.

Praxis II

The second set of tests is called Praxis II. Generally, two tests are taken for individuals receiving their first license: 

  • Principles of Learning
  • A content area test or tests, ESOL for K-12 ESL license students.  

For the Principles of Learning test, teacher candidates have three options: 

  • K-6
  • 7-12
  • K-12 

Even though the ESL license is a K-12 license, the Department of Teacher Development at St. Cloud State recommends that St. Cloud State student in K-12 licenses take the 7-12 test, as the secondary education sequence at St. Cloud State is a 7-12 program and not a K-12 program of study. 

Please note that teacher candidates may take any one of these three tests and the results will count if passing scores are met. At St. Cloud State, 100 percent of K-12 ESL license teacher candidates have passed these tests.

The Praxis II ESOL test have the following components: 

  • Analysis of student language production
  • Linguistic theory
  • Teaching methods and techniques,
  • Assessment techniques and cultural issues
  • Professional issues. 

At St. Cloud State, 94 percent of all teacher candidates for the K-12 ESL license have passed this course.

For licensed teachers who seek the K-12 ESL license as a second license, they do not need to take or to retake the Principles of Learning test, but they do need to take the ESOL content test.

Praxis II tests are generally taken at the end of a teacher candidate’s academic program — such as in the last semester of course work or in the semester of student teaching. 

The last Praxis II test dates of the academic year are typically in June. Generally, it is a good idea to take these tests in February through April so that the results are available when the teacher candidate is ready to apply for his or her teaching license.

Relevant websites for those interested in more information about these tests include:

For more information email the TESL Director, Jim Robinson at:  jhrobinson@stcloudstate.edu.

Student Teaching

For the K-12 ESL license at St. Cloud State, all students receiving this license are required to complete student teaching requirements. Normally, students are required to enroll in 12 undergraduate or graduate credits for student teaching and to complete 16 full-time weeks or the equivalent of student teaching: 

  • Eight full-time weeks at the K-6 level,
  • Eight full-time weeks at the 7-12 level

These student teaching assignments are assigned by the Office of Clinical Experiences. Generally speaking, student teaching is completed in the last semester of course work.

Student teaching two licenses simultaneously

Student seeking the K-12 ESL license as well as another teaching license simultaneously may be required to student teach for an additional six credits of student teaching and an additional eight weeks of student teaching. 

Student teaching a second license

If you have an initial teaching license and want to add the K-12 ESL license, the student teaching requirement will generally be reduced upon the request of the teacher candidate and with a review of previous academic and licensure documents.  Generally speaking, the reduction will cut in half the student teaching requirements for the level of the previous license. 

Essential Equivalent Experience

If you have been hired as an ESL teacher by a school district even though you do not have a K-12 ESL teaching license, then you can use your ESL teaching experience to complete student teaching requirements through Essential Equivalent Experience. 

For Essential Equivalent Experience, the teacher candidate needs to document quantitatively and qualitatively that student teaching requirements have been met.  The teacher candidate needs:

  • A letter from the school principals or the school district Human Resources Office that document the number of hours of ESL for both K-6 and 7-12 students with as many as 240 hours of teaching at each level. 
  • Three observation reports or letters of recommendation based on observations for both K-6 ESL teaching and 7-12 ESL teaching

All these documents would then be sent to the TESL director who reviews them and prepares a letter of support. The TESL director then sends these documents with his letter of support to the Secondary Education faculty in the Department of Teacher Development, where student teaching credits are listed. A faculty member there either supports or rejects this application for Essential Equivalent Experience. 

International Student Teaching

Teacher candidates for the K-12 ESL license can also do half of their student teaching through an international teaching assignment. This student teaching experience has to be at the K-6 or 7-12 level and so cannot be with adults. If you are interested in student teaching internationally, you should contact the Office of Clinical Experiences directly to ask about the possibilities.

Additionally, students may count previous international English Foreign Language (EFL) teaching for half of their student teaching requirement through Essential Equivalent Experience. In the past, teacher candidates who had taught in K-12 classrooms in other countries as part of the Peace Corps or with the JET Japanese Exchange Teacher program in Japan have been able to reduce their student teaching requirement by as much as half if they provide the documentation required for Essential Equivalent Experience.

Applying for your license

Once you have completed the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and education course work, passed the PPST and Praxis II tests, and completed your student teaching requirements, you are ready to apply for your K-12 ESL teaching license in Minnesota.

Information for applying for you license through St. Cloud State can be found at the Office of Records and Registration