How Can I Become an ELL Instructor?

Research what it takes to become an ELL instructor. Learn about career options along with the education requirements, responsibilities, and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an ELL Instructor Do?

ELL instructors teach English to students for whom English is not their native language (otherwise known as English language learners). Often, they work in elementary, middle or high schools, where they help students build the speaking, listening, reading and writing skills that they need for success in academics as well as social interactions and other daily activities. Some ELL instructors specialize in instructing adults, helping them learn English so that they can successfully get a job and navigate daily activities like shopping and transportation.

Find out more about the general requirements for this career in the chart below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Licensure State teaching license (K-12 education)
Certification TEFL certification, SIT TESOL Certificate
Education Field of Study Education, English, language arts, foreign language, writing and communications
Key Responsibilities Help English language learners acquire English speaking and writing skills, teach English writing and comprehension, work with students to help them perfect English-speaking skills.
Job Growth (2018-2028) 3% (for elementary and kindergarten teachers)*; 3% (for middle school teachers)*; 4% (for high school teachers)*; -10% (for all adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers)*
Median Salary (November 2019) $44,220 (for ESL teachers)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Is an ELL Instructor?

An ELL (English Language Learner) instructor is similar to an ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor. As an ELL instructor, you'll typically teach students at the kindergarten, elementary, middle or secondary school level. It will be your responsibility to ensure that students from non-English speaking homes learn not only to speak and write English fluently, but be able to study other subjects in English with native speaking classmates.

What Education Do I Need?

In order to become an ELL instructor, you'll first need to enroll in a bachelor's degree program in a discipline related to ELL such as education or English. If you have a high school diploma or a GED, a common education path you might consider is enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in language arts. Creative writing, educational psychology, English literature, classroom management and teaching practices are just a few courses you can expect to take in a language arts program. You'll be able to earn your teacher's license as a part of certain programs. In others, it will be necessary to do so on your own.

How Do I Get My License?

If it wasn't included as part of your bachelor's degree program, before you can start teaching ELL professionally, you'll need to acquire your teacher's license. How you can accomplish this depends upon the state in which you live. In addition to passing an exam, you'll usually be required to accumulate a certain number of hours in a classroom under the direction of a lead ELL instructor.

Some employers may also require you to acquire an ESL license. At the very least, it will set you apart in the eyes of potential employers. Some ESL licensure programs are offered as part of a larger master's degree program, while others can be pursued independent of any larger program. A few subjects you might cover are language learning with computers, English grammar and child development.

What Is the Job Market Like?

Once you are ready to apply for a job, it will be useful for you to know that the number of ELL instructors needed in schools is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2018 and 2028, the total positions available for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers would decrease by 7,000, or 10%, whereas kindergarten, elementary school and middle and high school teaching positions would all increase by 3-4% ( This would be slower than the average growth for all occupations across all industries; however, the fact that the number of students from non-English speaking homes is increasing should make the ELL specialization within education particularly desirable.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want to teach middle or high school students, you could choose to specialize in an area other than ELL, such as biology or history. In addition to providing instruction in your subject of expertise, you might have supervisory responsibilities outside the classroom, such as cafeteria monitoring. Like ELL teachers, you need a bachelor's degree and a license in order to work in a public school. If you would rather pursue a career teaching adults, you could choose to focus on preparing students for the high school equivalency exam. In this job, you would offer courses that cover language arts, math, science and social studies, and you would help students build career skills. You need to have a bachelor's degree to work as an adult instructor.

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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