We Know: How to Be an ESL Teacher

What is an ESL Teacher?

An ESL teacher instructs students who cannot read, write, or speak English. Lessons are much like those taught by regular teachers, except that there is a stronger emphasis on learning the English language, and breaking through native language barriers.

What are the basic requirements?

For most ESL teaching positions, a bachelor's degree is required. For those wanting to teach ESL in the U.S., a bachelor's degree in education is required. Most overseas ESL teaching positions require that the applicant be a native English speaker over age 18, with a bachelor's degree in any discipline. An enthusiastic attitude for learning about other cultures is also important.

Should I Take a Certification Course?

Although it is possible to obtain an ESL teaching position without ESL certification, it can be very helpful. If you plan to teach overseas, many countries require all teaching to have ESL or TESL certification. If an ESL certificate is not required where you plan to teach, it can still make you more competitive in the job market, and provide you with the skills and tools needed to excel as an ESL teacher.

Where can I teach?

The greatest demands for ESL teachers are in Latin America and Asia. For Americans, it can be difficult obtaining work in Europe, but not impossible. The application process is generally more complicated, and the competition is stiff, since there are a good number of U.K applicants going after the same jobs. However, there are a number of opportunities in eastern Europe, and many schools in that region offer better compensation packages than those in western Europe.

Each country has different visa requirements and job opportunities available. The best way to determine where you should teach is to visit job and message boards such as Dave's ESL Cafe. Talk to others who have taught ESL, and do some research regarding the many opportunities available for ESL teachers.

How much are ESL teachers paid?

The salary for ESL teachers differs greatly depending on where you teach. In the U.S., ESL teachers may earn anywhere from $30,000 a year in public schools, to $100,000 a year for corporate business clients. The salaries for other countries may range from mere room and board allowance to generous monthly pay and airfare reimbursement upon contract completion.

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