ESL teachers help non-native English speakers to gain experience and confidence in the written and spoken English language. An ESL teacher needs to have lots of patience and especially compassion for those trying to learn a new language. It is also important for ESL teachers to have those creative tricks in their bag as every learner is different and what may work for one student, may not work for the other.
Not long ago, I was an ESL teacher at my local community college and taught classes in the evening on a part-time basis. Although the job took a tremendous amount of planning and preparation, it was so rewarding and one of the best jobs that I have had the honor of doing. The pleasure in seeing others learn a new language, understand new concepts and gain confidence in the English language was priceless plus the students were amazingly grateful and kind. I gained many new friends through my experience of ESL teaching.
Requirements for an ESL Teacher
The ESL teacher certification requirements vary state by state and also by grade/age level, but there are certain requirements that most educational settings do set as a minimum standard: requiring a bachelor’s degree is fairly standard but other than a degree, the requirements for an ESL teacher are somewhat wide open.
Since my teaching experience is in Illinois, I will speak from my experiences. At the elementary and high school level, an ESL teacher must meet all the state certification requirements and be certified as an ESL teacher which involves taking specific courses geared toward English as a Second Language curriculum and methods.
Teaching ESL at a community college in Illinois is a little different: the college I worked for had asked for some type of teaching experience and a master’s degree, the teaching experience was negotiable and the master’s degree was not.
There were not specific certificates or requirements to teach ESL at the community college I worked at. However, I did get offered the position pretty quickly at the community college because I had experience working with ESL elementary age students and I had also been an instructional coach working with adults in an elementary setting.
Job Outlook for ESL Teachers
The English as a Second Language population is growing by leaps and bounds, most statistical information points towards continued growth in the ESL area. This means there will be a continued demand for ESL teachers and the job outlook is really good. If you are considering ESL teaching, it may be wise to start researching your specific state requirements for ESL teaching and figure what you need to do to become and ESL teacher.