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ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement - Frequently Asked Questions

General questions
Course, schedule, and registration questions

TSPC-required test questions

Practicum questions

Program completion questions


General questions

  • What is the ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement?
    It is a specialty area endorsement added to a K-12 teaching license that provides evidence of proficiency working with English language learners. It is also referred to as an ESOL endorsement.
  • What are the basic requirements for earning an ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement at Portland State University?
    (1) Admission to the program, (2) completion of all program courses and the final practicum—a total of 22 credits, (3) passing the TSPC-required test and (4) following steps for program completion for the endorsement to be added to the teaching license.
  • How is the Portland State program organized?
    Our courses are designed to allow you to acquire knowledge and skills in 14 competency areaspdf linked to the TSPC standardspdf for the ESOL endorsement. During the final practicum, endorsement candidates are evaluated on knowledge and skill, and performance in the field, in relation to these competencies.
  • I don’t speak another language. Can I get this endorsement?
    Yes. Bilingual ability is not required for the ESOL endorsement. This program prepares teachers, most of whom only speak English, with knowledge and skills to work more effectively in the K-12 classroom with students who are non-native speakers of English. You may have the bilingual designation added to the endorsement if you are fluently bilingual. See “TSPC-required Test Questions” below for required evidence of bilingual fluency.
  • What steps do I follow for admission to the program?
    Click on Admissions for more information.

Course, schedule, and registration questions

  • I’m not yet admitted to the program. Can I still take courses?
    Yes, but you must be formally admitted both to PSU and to the Graduate School of Education before requesting a practicum.
  • When are your courses held?
    Courses are scheduled in the evening and occasionally the weekends during the academic year and during the day, evenings and weekends in Summer Session. Check the online schedule of classes for upcoming course information. All of our courses are held on the PSU campus with some courses offered partially online.
  • How quickly can I complete the ESOL endorsement program at Portland State?
    That depends on your schedule. Each program course is offered twice each year with the exception of the final practicum which is not available during summer. Typically, students do the coursework and practicum within 2 years of applying to the program. If you need to take a leave of absence you must let the faculty advisor and program manager know. You will be automatically withdrawn from the program if you don’t do any coursework within 10 years of your first class and will need to reapply to the program.
  • Can I get my endorsement at the same time as my initial teaching license?
    No, because the endorsement must be added to an existing teaching license. If you are a student in Portland State’s GTEP program or another college/university program leading to initial licensure, you can begin taking ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement courses concurrently. We strongly recommend that you first complete at least two terms of GTEP (or your basic teaching methods courses if you are at another institution) before starting endorsement program courses. You cannot do your final ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement practicum until after meeting all requirements for initial licensure.
  • Should the courses be taken in a certain order?
    While there is no requirement that they be taken in a certain order, we strongly recommend taking ELP 466/566 Impact of Language and Culture in the Classroom as the first course in the series. Click on Program Courses to see the suggested sequence. All courses must be completed before doing the final practicum.
  • I looked for the courses in the Portland State Bulletin/Schedule of Classes, but I can’t find them. Where and how do I find out when they are offered?
    You can search the PSU Class Schedule for ESOL courses. Some are located in Curriculum and Instruction, some in Educational Leadership and one in Special Education in the pull down menu.
  • How do I register for ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement Program courses?
    Click here for registration instructions and also for information about how to create your student account.
  • Is your program available online?
    No. Many courses in the program are offered partially online, which reduces the amount of time required to spend on campus.
  • I have some K-12 ESOL teaching experience or I took some similar courses at another university. Do I have to take all the courses and the practicum?
    That depends. Because so much variance exists in how institutions structure their programs and courses, we do not evaluate transcripts and generally do not accept other institutions’ courses as directly equivalent to ours. We do, however, offer a waiver option through a flexible portfolio approach that can take into consideration knowledge and skills gained in a variety of ways and including prior K-12 ESL teaching experience, similar coursework taken elsewhere, background and experience in TESOL or Applied Linguistics, significant experience living or working in another country and culture, or some combination of all of these. In order to submit portfolio documentation to request course or practicum waiver, you must first attend a two-hour, non-credit Portfolio Waiver Workshop that is offered twice a year, during fall and spring terms. The workshop covers waiver requirements and procedures for preparing and submitting portfolio documentation. The fee covers the workshop and up to three individual consultations with the instructor who will review portfolio materials for completeness prior to submission for committee review.

  • I have a TESL certificate or MA-TESOL from Portland State. Will some of these courses apply toward an ESOL endorsement?
    Yes. Please refer to this chart of course equivalencies. You have to take at least two ESOL endorsement program courses for which no equivalencies exist through the TESL/TESOL programs. These are ELP 465/565 ELL School-Community Relations and SPED 455/555 Working with LEP Children Who Have Special Needs. In addition, if none or only a portion of your TESOL Methods practice teaching was done at the level of your K-12 teaching license, you will have to complete the final 90-hour ESOL practicum.

TSPC-required test questions 

  • Which test do I have to pass for this endorsement?
    TSPC requires all candidates for this endorsement to pass an approved standardized content-knowledge test, the ESOL ORELA. Details are available at the ORELA web site, A passing score on the ESOL Praxis test will continue to be accepted by TSPC if the test was taken prior to Sept. 1, 2009. We recommend that you take the required test near or just after the completion of your endorsement program coursework. When you take the test, be sure to request that score results be sent to you, TSPC, and Portland State.
  • How can I prepare for the required ESOL test?
    We don’t offer test review workshops at Portland State. Historically, PSU ESOL endorsement program students have been very successful in passing the test.
  • What evidence of second language fluency is required for the bilingual designation on the endorsement?
    You must either hold a K-12 license to teach another language, or you must take two additional Praxis language tests covering content knowledge and productive language skills: French (test #s 0171 and 0173), German (test #s 0181 and 0182), and Spanish (test #s 0191 and 0192). If your bilingual fluency is in a language other than these, we typically work with PSU’s Dept. of World Languages and Literatures to find someone qualified to assess your speaking, reading, and writing abilities, and provide written verification of fluency.

Practicum questions

  • What is involved in doing the ESOL practicum?
    General practicum requirements include spending at least 90 contact hours teaching at the level of your current authorization with six or more ELL students over the course of a 10-week Portland State school term (fall, winter or spring). We will arrange a placement for you with an ESOL-endorsed cooperating teacher. If you are already teaching, you need to arrange for an ESOL-endorsed colleague in your school or district to serve in this role for you. As part of the 90 hours, you are required to develop and present a unit of 10 lessons, including pre- and post-assessment, and planning and presentation of the lessons using strategies appropriate for working with ELL students. Practicum written assignments include using a designated format for at least two of the lessons, which are also observed by the practicum supervisor reflections on the lessons and the overall practicum experience and an essay discussing knowledge of the 14 competencies for the ESOL endorsement and application of this knowledge when working with English language learners.
  • How and when do I let you know I want to do my practicum?
    Request a practicum application from the ESL/Bilingual Endorsement Program Manager and submit it one term in advance of when you plan to do your practicum in order to allow time to arrange for a University supervisor, and for a placement, if needed. Practicum application deadlines are:
    • May 15: For fall term practicum beginning late-September
    • October 15: For winter term practicum beginning early January
    • January 15: For spring term practicum beginning late-March/early April
  • Can I do my practicum during the summer?
    No. Summer school programs typically do not provide enough student contact hours to meet practicum requirements.
  • I just finished my teacher licensure program and want to do my practicum as soon as possible, but I don’t know when I will get a teaching job. What should I do?
    Submit your practicum application as described above and indicate that you want a placement. Then, if you are hired for a teaching position, inform the ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement Program Manager as soon as possible. We work with you to determine if you are able to complete practicum requirements in your own classroom.
  • I’m a full-time teacher.  Will I have to take time off to do my practicum?
    Probably not. Most full-time teachers either have enough ELL students in their own classroom(s) or are able to make arrangements to work cooperatively with teaching colleagues who do, so that practicum requirements can be met while working.
  • I only have one class left to take and I want to do my practicum as soon as possible. Can I take my final class and do my practicum at the same time?
    No. You must have completed all program courses with grades posted (no I, M or X grades) at least one term before doing your practicum.
  • TSPC told me all I have to do to get my ESOL endorsement is to pass the Praxis and do a 90-hour practicum. Can I do the practicum through Portland State?
    No. We do not accept teachers for practicum unless they have completed our ESOL endorsement coursework or provided evidence of equivalent competence by successfully waiving courses required for the endorsement. This is because evaluation of practicum activities is based on the competencies acquired through the coursework. It is not appropriate to accept teachers for practicum and evaluate their work against competencies they might not have acquired.

Program completion questions

  • I have finished all the program requirements.  What do I need to do to get the endorsement added to my license?
    Follow instructions for Program Completion.
  • How long does it take to get the endorsement added to my license once I turn in all the required materials to PSU?
    Please allow 2-3 weeks for Portland State to complete all required steps and submit our recommendation to TSPC for the endorsement to be added to your license. We understand TSPC can take up to two months or longer to send out your updated license document showing the endorsement has been added. If you need evidence of the endorsement prior to that time, for your school district or for hiring purposes, it might appear through a license inquiry at the TSPC website,


  • Does this program qualify for financial aid?
    Taking courses in this program could allow you to qualify for financial aid if you are in a PSU master’s program. Contact Portland State’s Office of Financial Aid for more information at 503-725-3461.
  • Can courses be taken for undergraduate credit?
    Yes, except the final practicum, which is graduate-level only. However, two important reasons to choose graduate credit are: if you intend to use the courses to meet graduate elective requirements or if graduate credits could place you at a higher level on a school district salary scale.
  • I think I want to teach ESOL with adults or to teach English overseas. Will this program help?
    Probably not. Teaching ESOL with adults requires a certificate or master’s degree in TESOL—Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, which are offered through Portland State’s Department of Applied Linguistics, 503-725-4088, That department can also offer guidance in preparing to teach English overseas.
  • I’ve heard that you hold ESOL endorsement courses at some school districts. Can I take classes at a location closer to my home?
    Several school districts contract with Continuing Education/Graduate School of Education to offer the ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement course series on-site in their districts. These courses are intended for teachers employed by those districts, since the districts are paying the cost for their teachers to attend. If you are currently teaching, contact the ESOL/Bilingual Endorsement program manager to find out if the program is being offered in your district.