How to Become an ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher


Would you like to teach students whose first language isn’t English, to read, write and have effective conversations? This is the role of an ESL (English as a second language) or ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) teacher. It is a very rewarding career path to take, and one that is in great demand. There are opportunities to work in both the private and public education system as well as working abroad. The class could be aimed at young children, teenagers or adults. If you’re looking for a flexible career, and you enjoy learning about other cultures and languages, this may be the career you’re looking for.

What Qualifications are Required?

The minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree. However, gaining a masters ESL degree online will open more doors for you. It will also be beneficial if you have a qualification in a second language. It’s not vital to be fluent in another language, but it will be very useful. Once you’ve gained the right qualification, you then have to obtain a teaching license. However, it’s worth pointing out that this requirement can vary from state to state and country to country. Checking online should provide you with all the information you need to know about a license. Other requirements can include a teaching test and a background check.

Getting Experience

You will get preferential treatment if you can add relevant experience to your resume, particularly if you want to work overseas. As well as educational qualifications, there are also a number of personal traits required, and these can be refined in a working environment. They include patience, empathy and a desire to be part of a multicultural society. There are plenty of opportunities to gain experience in elementary and high schools, education programs, intensive language programs, community colleges, corporations, and adult schools.

Key Skills and Strengths

A number of skills and strengths are required if you want to make the most of this career. You should have a good working knowledge of spelling and grammar as well as the appropriate rules. It is vital to be able to recognize and explain why things are said and written the way they are. Learning a foreign language will be invaluable when you are writing assignments and planning in-class activities. Flexibility will also be an important skill to develop because you may need to change plans depending on how your students grasp the lessons. 

Help with Finding a Job

There are a number of organizations that will help when it comes to networking and finding a job. They include:

The demand for ESL teachers is huge, and for many just starting out, a career overseas is the best place to begin. Wherever you want to go, there is likely to be a need for ESL instructors, and the requirements vary considerably. It is also possible for an unskilled teacher to gain experience in the US with many cities looking for volunteer teachers.

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