English as a Second Language teachers, or ESL teachers, are absolutely vital in helping non-native, English speaking, individuals learn how to write, read, and speak the English language. If you are fluent in one or many foreign languages and have a strong, enjoy helping others, and vast linguistic knowledge of the English language, you may want to pursue a career as an ESL teacher.
Why Become An ESL Teacher
As an English as Second Language teacher, you will be helping individuals to understand the structure, pronunciation, word meanings, grammar, and sounds of the English language. ESL teaching involves a great deal of developing methods, learning materials, and evaluating an individual’s language progress. It is important to study, learn, and become fluent in other languages because you need to effectively communicate with your students. The position of an English as a Second Language teacher allows you to travel and teach individuals in other parts of the world.
It is a very rewarding career, as you will watch individuals transform their language skills and become more confident in their abilities. It takes a dedicated, patient, and understanding individual to teach other individuals a language, but it is an incredibly gratifying career.
Essential Qualities & Skills for ESL Teachers
If you are looking for employment within the teaching field, it is imperative that you possess the following qualities and skills for an ESL teacher position.
Creativity – ESL teachers must be creative in their approach to teaching the English language to students of all ages. Each student will approach the subject of language in various ways; therefore, it is imperative that an ESL teacher adapts lessons or approaches to fit a student’s learning style. Additionally, ESL teachers must think of creative methods and language projects to engage each student.
Communication Skills – As an ESL teacher, you will be responsible for effectively and clearly communicating with other teachers, students, administrators, and parents.
Resourcefulness – Depending on what level of education you are teaching (elementary school, middle school, high school, or post-secondary school), you will need to explain unknown or difficult language concepts in terms that all students can understand.
Patience As an ESL teacher, you will work with students with various learning abilities or disabilities. Some students may have little English language knowledge or backgrounds; therefore, it will take a patient ESL teacher to assist a student. It is important to be patient throughout your teaching process and respond to students when they are struggling with the material. Each student learns at his or her own pace, therefore, you must have an abundance of patience when helping a struggling student.
ESL Teacher Work Environment
ESL teachers may work in elementary schools, high schools, community colleges, or correctional institutions. Furthermore, an ESL teacher may be employed full-time or part-time. Many English as Second Language teachers travel and live in other countries as well.
The Occupational Employment and Wages Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor showed in 2012, the mean annual wage of an ESL teacher was $48,590. The median annual wage of an ESL teacher varies with experience, education, and the degree of fluency of additional languages.
ESL Teacher Career Outlook
The career outlook for an ESL teacher appears to be quite promising. From 2012 to 2022, the overall employment of ESL teachers is expected to grow at least 9%, which is faster than average for all occupations. Employment of ESL teachers will continue to grow with the continuation of immigration to the United States. Immigrants or those who may need language education will continue to want to improve their communication skills, therefore, increasing the demand for ESL teachers.
ESL Teacher Degree
In order become an English as a Second Language instructor, you will need to obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in the areas of linguistics, education, English, or bilingual communication. It is absolutely imperative that a prospective ESL teacher masters the best teaching methods for those who wish to learn the English language. ESL teachers must be creative in their thinking and how they will teach students.
For example, ESL teachers may use computer software and images to teach their students the English language. Furthermore, you will need to complete the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate program. Throughout your training, you will learn how to teach grammar lessons, practice conversational skills, and evaluate a student’s language skills.
Upon graduating from your undergraduate degree, you will need to obtain an ESL license from your state of residence, in order to instruct individuals. If you wish to pursue a graduate degree, you may have coursework in professional development, language workshops, and linguistic research.