Indiana launches program to license more teachers for English language learners

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Department of Education has launched a program to license state educators in English language learning.

In a partnership with the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, the state Education Department is helping fund coursework leading to a full license.

The Indiana Teachers of English Learners Licensure initiative will fully fund tuition, books and material fees for current educators and bachelor’s degree holders to complete coursework leading to English as a New Language licensure. Indiana has more than 77,500 English language learners.

Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education, shared a statement about the program in a news release issued Monday.

“Our COVID-19 academic impact data shows that Indiana’s English learner students experienced substantial academic impacts and have still not returned to pre-pandemic year-over-year academic growth. The best way to ensure our students accelerate their learning is to ensure they have quality, well-trained teachers supporting them. Like STEM and special education teachers, we also see a significant need for English learner teachers. Through the new I-TELL initiative, we will provide opportunities for more educators to be trained and certified to teach and positively impact our English learner students.”

She said that since 2016 the state has seen a 50% increase in English language learners, which is why the goal is to increase the number of qualified English learner teachers. “If anyone has the calling or the desire out there, has a desire to be a part of making a huge impact for kids, specifically, our English-learners in this case, please go to and consider applying to join us in serving our English learner students.”

An initial list of educator preparation and transition-to-teaching programs participating in the Indiana Teachers of English Learners Licensure initiative is available online. Additional colleges and universities interested in participating in the program are also invited to join.

Carey Dahncke, executive director of University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, also shared a statement in Monday’s news release.

“The number of students in Indiana who don’t speak English as their first language continues to rapidly grow. For these students, the need to have access to highly qualified English language teachers is critically important. I-TELL will offer assistance to the many schools across the state who need more of these English learner licensed teachers.”

He said, in Indiana, schools with English learned used to be exceptions and now it’s very common.

Indiana Teachers of English Learners Licensure is funded through $2 million from federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding received by state government. The initiative will begin as the number of teachers in Indiana holding English as a New Language licensure has grown by 38% from 2019 to 2021, with over 860 more educators now holding this permit statewide than in 2019, according to the Department of Education.

In addition to English as a New Language licensure, many other educators are also qualified to serve English language learners across Indiana by meeting previously available alternative rubric requirements

Dahncke said, “If a teacher has an existing teaching license and all they’re looking to do is add the additional coursework to add the ENL, then they could probably complete that within a couple of months.”