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English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher Job Description, Career as a English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training:— Bachelor’s degree in English.

Salary: Median— $47,830 annually

Employment Outlook:—Good

English as a Second Language (ESL) Teachers teach English to students whose primary or native language is not English. Schools are required by Education laws to offer ELS instruction in the classroom to every student whose mother tongue is not English. ESL teachers train students to ensure that they acquire both written and spoken skills in English.

Unlike foreign language teachers, ESL teachers have to deal with a class of students who do not necessarily share a common language. Thus, the teacher cannot provide instruction in any one language. Often ESL teachers are forced to explain things through gestures, pictures, and demonstrations. The task of ESL teachers is to help learners achieve the same proficiency in English that native speakers of the language enjoy.

Education and Training Requirements

Candidates who wish to teach ESL in public schools are required to have a teaching license issued by the state where they intend to work. Although they are called certificates, these licenses are not to be confused with Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. ESL teaching certification is given by the state’s Department of Education. The minimum academic requirements for obtaining this certificate vary from state to state. Usually a bachelor’s degree in education is sufficient, though some states require candidates to hold master’s degrees.

In some states, certification is mandatory for ESL teachers who teach adults. Other states require teachers to have a master’s degree in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), or an allied field. Aspirants who have an education degree but do not have the TESOL degree may be required to supplement their degrees with coursework in TESOL. Those who have obtained their degrees outside USA may have to provide extensive information to the state licensure authorities.

Getting the Job

Job openings for teaching ESL are advertised in local newspapers, the Internet, and career services office of local universities. Coordinators of community literacy programs usually have information regarding employment opportunities in this field.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Teachers who wish to enhance their career prospects and receive funding may do so by presenting their work at the numerous colloquia and workshops organized by the TESOL.

Employment opportunities in the field are expected to grow because of the increasing number of immigrants in United States. This means that states with higher immigrant populations will require more ESL teachers. Changes in immigration policies naturally affect the prospects of this career. There is a demand for ESL teachers outside USA too.

Working Conditions

Most ESL teachers work in clean and comfortable surroundings. However, they have to cope with the task of teaching students from various language backgrounds. Like other teachers, they may have to deal with unruly students. Controlling large classes may prove stressful especially if ESL teachers have to put up with heavy workloads.

ESL teachers who work with adult learners may have to teach during non-office hours if their students are employed. Often, classes for adult learners are organized during weekends.

Where to Go for More Information

U.S. Department of Education 
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
1925 Ballenger Avenue, Suite 550
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-6820

National Council of Teachers of English
1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana,
Illinois 61801-1096

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

As per the records of 2007, the mean annual salary of ESL teachers offering adult education is $47,830. Entry level positions offer an average annual salary of $20,000, while experienced ESL teachers in the United States can earn as much as $100,000 every year.

ESL teachers receive benefits in the form of paid leaves, vacations, and pension plans. Those working part-time have the advantage of flexible work schedules.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEducation & Training