ESL teachers work in many different educational settings. For example, they may teach English abroad in an exotic country, work with non-English speaking children in public schools or they may be an instructor who teaches English as a Second Language to international students at colleges. ESL teachers may be unlicensed volunteers who help immigrants through community programs or they may be doctoral consultants who work with clients in businesses.
ESL teachers who work with middle to high school students will need a bachelor’s degree related to education. Teachers who work with college students or adults will need a master’s in ESL or EFL. Most colleges and formal organizations require a specialized degree in English, applied linguistics, language teaching methodologies or second language acquisitions. Employers will want university coursework to reflect classes in language, such as basic linguistics, and classes in the structure of English, such as syntax and morphology. Cross-cultural studies in psychology, socio-linguistics and intercultural communication are encouraged. The most common professional certifications for ESL teachers are Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc (TESOL).
ESL teachers must have evidence of ongoing professional development. This could be demonstrated by conferences, workshops, materials development and collaborative activities. They must have knowledge of a variety of curriculum approaches and an understanding of teaching English as a Second Language methods. ESL teachers will need to have the ability to design lessons with an approach that embraces cross-culture factors and content-based language learning. ESL teachers should know how to perform classroom observations, student evaluations and engaging activities. They must understand how to introduce and explain the uses of new vocabulary and grammar through various ways. These must be student-centered, communicative methods that incorporate technology and diversity sensitivity into their objectives.
A Master of Arts in in English as a Second Language (ESL) prepares graduates to teach language learners in a variety of settings. Most of these degree programs cater to professionals, including teachers, administrators and community workers. This degree will help students gain strategies for developing reading, writing and listening skills. This degree will expose students to immigration acculturation, current ESL policy and the historical perspectives of learning English. Students will learn how to assess and improve English learner proficiency and content knowledge. Most of these degrees focus on helping either children or adults with ESL language acquisition. Class titles may include bilingual foundations, multiculturalism issues, instructional strategies, resource content and student-centered learning.
Clarification of Terms
It is important to clarify the terminology used to categorize English teachers who work with non-native speakers. The terms English as a Second Language (ESL), English Language Learners (ELL) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) are interchangeably used. The term English as a Foreign Language (EFL) refers to when English is mass taught to foreign students in their country where English is not the native language. The terms Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) refer to internationally recognized qualifications.
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One of the most popular amateur websites for ESL teachers in the world is called Dave’s ESL Café. This is the leading resource for ESL teachers who want jobs abroad, classroom ideas and engaging discussion forums.