How to Become an ESOL Teacher

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There are many adult immigrants in the United States that speak other languages and do not understand or speak English. Teachers of English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) help adults learn to speak, listen, read, and write in English.


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What does an ESOL Teacher do?

ESOL teachers help adults become fluent in English by providing instruction in a variety of ways. They work with adults from many different language and cultural backgrounds. Some students have general education experiences in their native languages and others have very little education. To promote meaningful learning, ESOL teachers often focus on real-life situations. They typically start with teaching the basics and move on the more advanced skills later on. Advanced students often focus on conversation skills and writing or learning communication skills that are related to jobs or academics. ESOL teachers must adapt their instruction to the needs and abilities of individual students. They use creative methods to achieve learning goals and foster classroom communication.

What kind of training does an ESOL teacher need?

ESOL teachers must have at least a bachelor degree. Some positions require a master degree in ESOL instruction. Many colleges and universities offer master or graduate certificates in ESOL instruction. Many employers prefer candidates who have experience teaching English, particularly to adults. ESOL teachers should have training in linguistics and second language acquisition theory. It is also useful for ESOL teachers to understand the naturalization and citizenship process. Most ESOL teachers regularly attend workshops to update their skills and keep abreast on the latest advances in the field.

Most states require ESOL teachers to be licensed. Some states have specific licenses for ESOL instruction, but others require a general public school teacher license. Requirements for licensure typically include a bachelor degree form an approved teacher training program and passing a licensing examination.

What are the prospects for a career as an ESOL teacher?

Employment of ESOL teachers is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increasing number of immigrants who need to learn or improve their English will drive job growth.

Job prospects are projected to be favorable especially for ESOL teachers located in areas with many immigrants who have limited English abilities. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace ESOL teachers who retire or leave the field.

How much do ESOL teachers make?

As of September 2009, the average salary for ESOL teachers is $39,000. Average salaries vary greatly on position, experience, location, and benefits (2).

A career as an ESOL teacher is a great choice for people interested in teaching English to adults. ESOL teachers must have a sincere appreciation for people of different cultures and be able to adapt their teaching techniques. Patience, tolerance, enthusiasm, and flexibility are necessary qualities of ESOL teachers. They must able have great communication and be able to motivate their students.

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