Teaching ESL

What is ESL?
As a result of regular immigration to the United States, schools have seen an influx in the number of students whose native language is not English. To meet the educational needs of these English Language Learners (ELL), many schools have English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.  While ESL is not a standard part of the public school curriculum, it is offered to students of all ages, both in school and through after-school or community programs.

The overarching pedagogy of ESL is to guide students to English fluency so they can be integrated into regular classes with native speakers. Whereas in the past an ESL teacher was the student’s primary instructor, teaching them the rest of their subjects as well, the role of an ESL teacher has evolved. They may still be a primary instructor, though in most cases, they teach a group of students during a specific class designated solely for English instruction.

Teaching ESL can be challenging, but it is also an incredibly rewarding subject. English is the most widely spoken language in the world, and teachers who help students learn the language have a tremendous impact in their lives. Teaching ESL truly makes a difference.

How Can You Teach ESL?
Each state has its own requirements for teacher certification, and teaching ESL generally follows the same route. To teach in public schools in the United States, you must have a bachelor’s degree and complete any tests or additional education required by your state. ESL teachers must obtain the proper ESL certification, typically through successful performance on a subject test. It certainly helps, but is not usually required, to have a degree in English, education or ESL specifically.

Where Can You Teach ESL?
Though ESL teachers are generally in high demand across the country, certain areas are in greater need than others. States with large populations of immigrants (such as New York, California and Texas) have many more students whose native language is not English. Urban centers also typically have a greater diversity of citizens, so job opportunities may be more plentiful in cities. New York City, for example, has one of the densest populations of ELL’s in the country.

Schools aren’t the only employers of ESL teachers. There are many private companies that offer ESL programs for adults and after-school English tutoring for students. Many neighborhoods also have local programs to help people learn English in community centers or other public venues.

ESL teachers can also teach abroad. ESL instructors are in high demand in foreign countries hoping to stay abreast of the global economy by ensuring their citizen’s are proficient in English, the de facto language of global commerce. To teach abroad, you typically need a bachelor’s degree, and the proper visas and work papers. Some countries do not require ESL certification, though many in Europe require the TEFL certificate.