English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are exploding across the United States due to the influx of immigrants. Statistics from the NCES show that 9.3 percent (4.5 million) public school students have first languages other than English. Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas have the highest percentage of ESL learners nationwide. As classrooms turn increasingly bilingual, ESL teachers are finding great opportunities to instruct pupils on the intricate English language. They’re certified educators who pull students from PreK-12 mainstream classrooms or establish adult community programs to teach grammar, vocabulary, and literacy. ESL teachers help non-native people acquire English fluency for academic and vocational success. Unlike foreign language teachers, ESL teachers must reach students with whom they don’t share a common tongue.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for the 65,100 ESL teachers employed in the United States is $54,060, or $25.99 per hour. Teaching English as a Second Language at junior colleges garners $53,410 on average. ESL teachers working for elementary and secondary schools earn slightly more at $59,530, but the top-paying ESL jobs are funded by the state government at $65,080 per year.
When first entering the ESL classroom, young teachers can expect landing in the bottom quarter percentile of earnings with yearly income under $39,170. However, it’s possible for experienced ESL teachers to eventually bring home over $83,140. In California, salaries for teaching English as a Second Language can surpass the six-figure mark to $104,850.
ESL teachers have the primary responsibility of instructing non-native students to properly speak, read, and write English. They design custom lesson plans for teaching learners to effectively communicate with accent reduction. ESL teachers generally educate children and adults who were raised speaking Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Vietnamese, Korean, and other languages. They’ll use books, audiotapes, videos, plays, and other engaging techniques to develop literacy. It’s also important for ESL teachers to bridge cultures by introducing students to the unique cultural aspects of America. Some will focus on developing vocabulary and knowledge for adults taking the citizenship exam. ESL teachers must implement monitoring and assessment systems to judge if students’ English proficiency is improving.
Motivating groups of multicultural students to develop a love for English despite all of its complex tenses and nuances takes tremendous skill. ESL teachers must possess superb communication skills to explain concepts in basic terms students understand. Collaboration skills are essential since ESL teachers often take with general education teachers about student progress. Cultural sensitivity is a must because teachers need to remain respectful of each pupil’s different customs or beliefs. ESL teachers must fine-tune their pedagogical skills to develop lessons that keep students engaged. Compassion and patience are vital for developing genuine relationships with students who struggle with content. ESL teachers should also have the technical skills to integrate new software and technology into the learning environment.
Degree and Education Requirements
Teaching English as a Second Language generally requires holding at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. Some community centers may hire ESL teachers with solely an associate degree in adult education. Most finish four-year university programs with majors in elementary education, secondary education, or linguistics. Those planning to teach high schoolers may major in English and select an education minor for teacher preparation. More schools are preferring advanced, specialized degrees though. Attending graduate school for a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in ESL or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is suggested. Master’s in English language learning could be available online.
Pros and Cons of the Position
Becoming an ESL teacher is a dream for many students seeking cross-cultural teaching jobs, but there are challenges with the rewards. On the positive side, ESL teachers are compensated with comfortable salaries that grow with experience. Teaching positions can be found in various settings outside PreK-12 schools, including junior colleges and remedial programs. Demand for ESL services will present good job prospects. ESL teachers reap intrinsic rewards from helping immigrants transition into a new culture and language. They’re also exposed to different customs to become well-informed global citizens. However, investing in a master’s degree can leave ESL teachers strapped with student loan debt. Stress can be above-average with extra emphasis being placed on standardized test scores. ESL teachers often work longer than the school day to meet with teachers and parents. Lessons can be emotionally draining and frustrating when language barriers prevent optimal learning too.
Experience working with non-native English speakers is paramount for becoming an ESL teacher. During your collegiate years, request field practicum placements in ESL and bilingual classrooms to spend time teaching English. All accredited bachelor’s degrees in education will include a student teaching semester to fulfill state licensure. Most states require passing Praxis exams and background checks. You’ll then be certified to begin classroom teaching jobs, but ESL endorsement likely will require extra steps. States generally seek 18-20 semester hours of specific ESL coursework and 100 clock hours of teaching English as a Second Language. That three months can be fulfilled with the master’s-level internship. Inexperienced teachers could also travel abroad to countries like China, Vietnam, Brazil, Spain, and Russia to teach English. Consider joining the TESOL International Association for more workshops and networking.
There’s rising demand for teachers who specialize in educating individuals with limited English proficiency. Non-native English speakers grew by over 104 percent from 1989 to 2000 in the United States. Recent Pew research discovered that the number of Spanish speakers nationwide will grow to 43 million before 2020. Approximately 27 percent of U.S. schools have found their ESL/bilingual teaching vacancies difficult to fill. Overall employment in education is expected to grow by 8 percent through 2024, including over 5,500 new ESL jobs. English as a Second Language teachers can start their career in public or private schools, colleges, vocational schools, educational support services, government agencies, and nonprofits.
Mastering English is an important developmental milestone for immigrants to effectively function in society and achieve their “American dream.” Whether they’re five or 65, non-native speakers depend on ESL teachers to immerse them in learning the language. ESL teachers are licensed professionals with refined strategies for transitioning pupils from their mother tongue to English. Entering the high-need profession as an ESL teacher will allow you to give pupils the instruction and resources to become bilingual.
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