ESL Teacher: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements

English as a second language (ESL) teachers assist students whose native language is not English in comprehending, speaking, reading and writing the English language. Keep reading to learn more about ESL teachers' daily tasks, education and licensing requirements and career outlook. Schools offering Teaching ESL degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an ESL Teacher Do?

You may instruct non-English speakers, called limited English-speaking students, at all educational levels, from elementary school to adult education programs. In class, you introduce students to the basic and advanced concepts of the English language to help students learn how to speak, read and write English. Your job may also involve preparing lesson plans and worksheets and designing listening comprehension and role-playing scenarios. You also evaluate students' performances to look for areas in which they may need more help or to discover what areas they have mastered.

As an ESL teacher, you work with students from a wide spectrum of cultural backgrounds and must tailor your approach according to each student's skill level. You may focus on thematic or occupation based terminology or present students with a more panoptic curriculum. In addition to language instruction, you also help introduce students to aspects of American tradition and culture. You may also instruct students in citizenship or naturalization requirements and provide other legal information that might be helpful to new U.S. residents.

What Are the Education Requirements?

To qualify as an ESL instructor, you need a bachelor's degree in an area such as education or English. If you have a bachelor's degree in a different field, you may qualify for ESL teaching jobs by completing a certification course in TEFL, (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). TEFL programs introduce future ELS instructors to instruction in linguistics, curriculum design, cross-cultural communication and second language acquisition.

Are There Other Requirements?

All ESL Teachers must be licensed by the State. Although licensing prerequisites vary for each State, common requirements include holding a bachelor's degree and completing a teacher-training program, such as the TEFL.

To teach ESL classes, you need to be fluent in the English language and have excellent skills in grammar, punctuation and spelling. Although you generally won't be required to know a second language, many teachers find it beneficial to understand the process of second language acquisition from personal experience.

What Is the Current Outlook for Elementary and High School Teachers?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected average employment growth for Elementary and High School teachers in the period of 2014-2024. ( Job opportunities may be best in areas with large immigrant populations, such as Texas or California.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Elementary, Middle or High School teachers are possible alternatives to ESL teachers. Teachers in these fields will require a minimum of a bachelor's degree and may not require any special certifications in addition to their teacher certificates. Becoming a college professor is also an alternative option. College professors are generally required to have a doctoral degree, hold office hours, and contribute to the institution through research or publications. Translators and tutors are other exceptions to ESL teachers and may be expected to hold an associate or bachelor's degree. Translators may work for companies translating documents or communicating with clients or other workers. They may also find positions in schools containing a high volume of ESL students. Tutors will work directly with students while also communicating with teachers and parents.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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