How You Can Become an ESL Teacher

Since English is the most spoken language in the world, there is a high demand for ESL teachers in both the United States and overseas. If you think you would enjoy helping people learn English, you may be wondering how you can become an ESL, or English as a Second Language, teacher. Sometimes it is referred to as an ESOL teacher, or English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher.

Education and Training

You will need to get a bachelor’s degree in order to teach English as a second language, especially if you plan on working in either a public or private school. If you decide you want to teach at a college or university, you will need either a masters or PhD. The best subjects to major in are either foreign languages or education. You might also want to take courses in geography, sociology, psychology and linguistics. In addition, traveling abroad will be helpful in teaching you about different cultures, customs, and traditions. In addition, since computers are being used more and more as teaching tools, you will need to make sure you have a good understanding of how language software works and can be used in the classroom.

All school teachers are required to have a valid teacher certification in their state. In order to get certified, most teachers will have to complete certain courses, complete a specified number of hours for student teaching, and pass a state certification exam. To determine what the requirements are for your state, you should research website like the one set up by the University of Kentucky, which provides links to each of the 50 states’ certification requirements. You can check it out by visiting: http://education.uky.edu/AcadServ/content/50-states-certification-requirements.

Tips and Advice

If you do happen to take a job teaching English in another country, make sure that the salary you are being offered is one that will support your cost of living in this country. You also need to read you contract very carefully and perhaps even have a lawyer go over it in order to make sure that you understand and agree to everything that will be expected of you. Some contracts are written in legal terms and making it difficult to determine the full scope of the work.

Many ESL teachers work with adults. Some of these are business people who need to learn English in order to conduct international business in English speaking countries. Others, want to learn English to help them pass their citizenship exam or to simply to be able to communicate better in the country where they are currently living. If you happen to be teaching adults, you will need to approach the curriculum a bit differently than you do when you are working with children. Adults tend to have less time and need to learn practical words and phrases that they can use to help them understand what people are saying and get their ideas across to others.

Although it is helpful for ESL teachers to know other languages, it is not possible for you to know every language that your students will speak. As a result, you will need to take some time to study how to instruct someone when you don’t know his language and have no common ground for communication. You will also benefit from have a great deal of patience as well as creative teaching methods. Before you decide whether you invest your time and money pursuing a career as an ESL teacher, you might want to volunteer to assist an ESL teacher with her classes or tutor students who want to learn English at your local community center or library.