How to Become an ESOL Teacher & Help People Learn English

What Is an ESOL Teacher?

An ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) or ESL (English as a Second Language) language teacher is a person who instructs students whose native language is not English.

What Is Required to Become an ESOL Teacher?

Requirements to become an ESOL school teacher and teach English start by having:

  • A bachelor's degree, which is the bare minimum educational requirement, more specifically a bachelor's degree in either English, teaching, or education.

  • Learn a marketable foreign language. Marketable foreign languages are French, Chinese, Spanish, Russian etc...

  • Get ESL (ESOL) training from a certified training program. Usually, a university or college will offer these types of programs. These sites can provide more information: Tesol.org, Globaltesol.com.

  • Get a TESOL certificate from an accredited program.

  • Get licensed to be an ESL (ESOL) teacher. Some states have specific licenses for adult education teachers, ESL teachers often times fall under this category.

  • Pass a background check

  • Pass a teaching test, some states will require you to take a test before becoming a teacher.

  • You may be required to be bilingual; some countries may require this due to ease of teaching and easing your stay in the country in which you are teaching English.

  • Staying current and active through networking and continuing study in the ESL (ESOL) field.

  • Getting a teaching internship. This will help you get hands-on experience with teaching.

  • Join an ESL (ESOL) organization. A few of the organizations are:
    TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), AAAL (The American Association for Applied Linguistics, they are the American branch of the International Association of Applied Linguistics.), IAWE (The International Association of Worldwide Englishes), and ILTA (The International Language Testing Association).

How to Get Certified as an ESOL Teacher?

After attaining a bachelor's degree in either English, teaching, or education you can either take a certified course in one of the many colleges or universities that offer the ESL (ESOL) certification program. Another way is to get a master's degree in teaching. It is advised to take some courses in the foreign language in which you intend to teach.

The Costs to Becoming an ESOL Teacher

Prices range from $8,000 – $60,000 depending on the college or university, as well as the program you applied to for your bachelor's degree. The ESL (ESOL) training program can range from $1,800 – $3,450 (tuition) for one or two semesters depending on the college or university’s program. It is best to research all costs in advance when planning to pursue this career option.

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Online, Locally, or Abroad?

There are a few ways a person can apply their teaching degree in ESL depending on their circumstances and goals.

Some of the ways are listed below:

  • Online: You can teach either through a private company or from home. Having a master's degree and or experience would be a huge plus. Having a master's degree will make it easier to earn a larger salary.

  • Locally: Local middle schools, high schools, and colleges, depending on your degree, are a good option. Some states require certification and passing a teaching exam. Colleges will require you to have a master's degree, whereas middle/high schools will only require a bachelor's degree.

  • Abroad: Various countries offer a decent salary and other incentives to teach English abroad. International schools are often great opportunities for teaching abroad. Some countries offering English teaching positions for ESL teachers are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and China to name a few.

16 Tips and Advice for Teachers to Give When Helping People Learn the English Language

Once you have your TESOL certificate or ESL certification, you are classed as a language teacher. However, first hand teaching experience and as an English teacher at a public school or elementary school will help you gain experience. There is nothing more rewarding than teaching non-native English speakers to learn English. Here are few tips and bits of advice to give to those you will be teaching English to and start you along the road of teaching:

1. Get a bilingual dictionary.

2. Watch television and movies in English. When learning English try to find movies and TV shows with your native language's subtitles to help you follow and learn new vocabulary.

3. Listen to music in English. Look up lyrics to the song you are listening to in English to help you understand what is being said in the song.

4. Read books, newspaper articles, journals, magazines, and other literature in English.

5. Make notes of all new vocabulary words or phrases as you read, watch and listen to various media in English. Also, make notes of new words or phrases you learn from having conversations with native English speakers.

6. Label objects and other various items in your house in English.

7. Practice speaking, writing and listening with native English speakers.

8. Get a penpal who is a native English speaker. There are various online penpal sites that have people from all over the world who wish to speak, practice, and learn new languages.

9. Record yourself speaking as well as the lesson you are learning in English to help with pronunciation and practice.

10. Learn the various English idiomatic expressions and sayings.

11. Study at least an hour and a half every day. It takes a constant and consistent effort to learn a new language, especially English.

12. Write in English every day. Keeping a journal can make this a good learning activity and helps you remember mistakes and practice what you learned every day.

13. Change the language setting on your cell phone, social media accounts, and any small electronic device to English. These are all things you use day to day, so seeing it in English will give you some reading and comprehension practice.

14. Ask questions! Asking your English teacher, fellow students, and English speaking friends helps you fix mistakes and become more confident in your English speaking capabilities.

15. When you feel confident in the English language try traveling to an English speaking country; if that is a possibility. Immersing yourself into another culture can often help you learn the English language or any other language for that matter.

16. Be realistic and positive! English, like any other language, is a constant learning experience so don't feel down when you don't speak fluently right out the gate.




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