A Guide on How to Become an ESL Teacher

Teaching ESL is a great way to help others as English is one of the world’s most popular languages. Learn more about how to become an ESL teacher.

Since 2011, the US has received over 40 million immigrants per year. A little over half of the immigrants aged five and older are considered proficient English speakers.

Whether non-English speakers move here to pursue an education or to seek employment opportunities, ESL teachers can make a huge difference.

If you feel a calling to help immigrants achieve success in the US, becoming an ESL teacher could be the answer!

Read on to find out how to become an ESL teacher.

What Is ESL?

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. Many grade schools, universities, and public institutions such as libraries offer ESL classes.

Like any language course, ESL classes teach English at increasingly hard levels in order to help students succeed both in everyday interactions and in educational or professional environments.

Visit this website if you’re still wondering, “What’s an ESL class?”

How to Become an ESL teacher

ESL teachers are responsible for teaching their students to read, write, and communicate in English. This entails, of course, that they must have a strong grasp on the English language, themselves. It also entails that they must be proficient in teaching, a skill that must be learned through years of higher education and certification.

Begin With a Bachelor’s Degree

To begin, you must earn a Bachelor’s degree in either English as a Second Language or in Teaching English as a Second Language. Which one you pursue will depend on what your university offers, as they are very similar programs.

If your university does not offer either ESL or TESOL degrees, you can pursue a related subject. This may include linguistics, English, writing, or education.

Many universities will offer courses that will help you decide who, exactly, you want to teach. For example, teaching ESL at the grade school level will require a different skill set than teaching ESL to adult learners.

It is recommended that you pick up at least one other language, as well. Many schools and programs that are looking to hire an ESL teacher will seek out candidates who are, at the very least, bilingual.

Complete a Student Teaching Internship

If you are in an ESL, TESOL, or education program, this will likely be built into the program. If you are in a different program that doesn’t require it, talk to your advisor. You will need to gain firsthand experience before getting hired as an ESL teacher.

These internships may be available after you’ve completed your undergraduate program. However, many schools prefer to take on current college students because universities often offer them financial incentives to do so. Plus, this work will be unpaid and you may not have the resources to take on unpaid work after college is complete.

Get ESL Trained

In spite of completing your Bachelor’s degree, you may be required to receive additional ESL training. Check your state and local licensing qualifications to find out if this is necessary.

ESL training will further your education by focusing on students’ needs. For example, your training should cover methods to measure your students’ success rates.

There are some circumstances in which you would receive certification first and ESL training second. This usually applies to teachers who were not teaching ESL, specifically, but have received a teaching license. In some states, they will be allowed to receive ESL training in order to qualify for teaching ESL.

Get ESL Licensed

As we’ve mentioned, you will need to obtain an ESL license. What qualifies you to do so will vary from state to state. It will also differ if you are planning on teaching in another country.

Consider a Master’s Degree

While it isn’t always necessary, getting a Master’s degree in ESL or education can unlock several doors in your career as an ESL teacher. For example, a Master’s degree would give you the opportunity to teach ESL to current university students in the university setting.

A Master’s degree can also give you an edge in the job market. Employers will appreciate your advanced education and the opportunities it gave you to put your skills to use. This especially applies to Master’s programs that require student teaching credits.

What Makes a Good ESL Teacher?

This may seem like a long process. Undergraduate programs typically last four years while graduate programs last anywhere from one to four years. The time it takes to get training and build experience will vary from person to person and by region.

What this means is that a good ESL teacher will feel passionate about the subject. This is important not only to endure the coursework and training but also to ensure that you care about your students’ needs.

ESL teachers should also bring empathy and patience to the classroom. Students will come from a variety of backgrounds and many of them will start with different skill levels. Some of your students may come to you with a basic understanding of conversational English while some may not know any English at all.

It is important that you keep in mind how nerve-wracking it must be to arrive in a new country without knowing one of its most commonly used languages. Your students may experience loneliness, embarrassment, and discouragement. It is your job not only to teach them English but to keep them motivated even on their toughest days.

Teach With Compassion

When you’re learning how to become an ESL teacher, never lose sight of why you’re doing so. Remember the amazing impact you can have on the lives of immigrants or students around the world! Learning English may just unlock a bright future for them.

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