Becoming an ESL Teacher

ESL Teacher

About ESL Teacher

If you speak English, you should be able to teach English to people who were born and raised speaking another language, right? As it happens, it's not that simple. After all, you may know English, but if you don't understand the differences between your language and the languages of your students, how are you going to explain them? This is a career that requires patience and understanding. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012) notes that qualities such as patience, strong communication skills and cultural sensitivity can be essential in this field.

How to Become an English as a Second Language Teacher

At minimum you must earn your bachelor's degree, and it's even better if you earn your master's degree, the BLS indicates. Even then, a graduate-level ESL certificate may be desirable. You can work on one through numerous online colleges, and many universities across the country offer ESL programs (sometimes referred to as TESOL, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or a TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language,) to their students.

The programs vary, taking anywhere from 20 to 130 hours of coursework to complete. Some ESL certificates don't require you to have taught before; other programs, especially the ones with fewer hours, are designed for people who have already completed a teacher's program and have obtained a license that enables them to teach in the state.

Career Earnings

Immigrants who live and work together in the U.S. may be less likely to build English-language skills. As researchers at Purdue University purport, this is because such 'enclaves' allow these new-comers to continue speaking their own language, making them less likely to reach out to gain skills for learning a new language. However, this is where the role of the adult ESL teacher can be important. These teachers can be an encouragement to immigrants who are doubtful about their ability to gain English literacy as well as have the capacity to make them feel welcomed and comfortable in a classroom.

Employment for ESL and GED teachers is predicted to climb 15 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020, according to July 2012 BLS data. This could result in 12,700 additional positions during that time. The BSL reports that as of May 2010 the median annual pay nationwide for adult literacy and GED teachers was $46,530. Those in the lowest 10 percent made less the $27,090 annually nationwide while those in the top 10 percent made more than $83,580. If you are interested in helping adults gain knowledge of the English language, be sure to check out the list of schools below to explore your potential options.

Sources:

  1. Adult Literacy and GED Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm#tab-4
  2. Study: Immigrants who live, work together less apt to learn English, Purdue University, April 2013, http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q2/study-immigrants-who-live,-work-together-less-apt-to-learn-english.html

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Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

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