If you are creative, patient and love helping others, then consider a career in English education. The number of children and adults in America whose native language is not English is growing every year, and these people need dedicated teachers to help them learn to speak, listen, read and write in English.
Teachers who work with English-language learners are often referred to as teachers of English as a second language, or ESL. ESL students come from a wide range of cultures, languages, and education and ability levels, and they need qualified teachers of English to help them assimilate to an English-speaking society. Because ESL teachers and students often do not speak the same language, a great deal of patience and creativity is required to build communication and achieve goals.
Career opportunities for ESL teachers are available in part-time and full-time positions, in multiple programs through public and private schools, and government and religious organizations. Opportunities are also available abroad! Knowledge of a second language is not necessary for those interested in English education, but it can certainly be useful.
Knowledge of other cultures and of citizenship and naturalization processes can be helpful as well. ESL classes are often taught in large-group, small-group and individual sizes, and they may focus on writing, reading or conversational skills, or academic or job-related skills depending on age, proficiency and pace of learning. Due to the nature of the work, material is often taught one-on-one, so all teachers should be able to motivate and communicate with their students at all stages of the English-learning process.
Salary Range and Growth Expectations
Due to the increasing number of non-English speaking residents, growth expectations for ESL classes and qualified teachers are very good. Demand for English education teachers will be highest in states with large populations of residents with limited or no English skills, including California, Texas and New York. However, demand is growing in all areas across the country.
Many English educators teach part-time, either teaching specialized classes during the school day, or afternoons and weekends for working adults. These part-time educators are usually paid hourly or per class. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, median hourly earnings of ESL teachers were $18.24 in May 2004. Other educators teach full-time for a school system or government organization and earn a salary and benefits.
ESL Training and English Language Schools
Degrees and certifications are available at traditional universities and at many career and community colleges. Most positions require teachers to have a teaching license and some training in second-language acquisition or linguistics. Most paid positions require ESL teachers to hold a Bachelor’s degree.
All require teachers to complete some sort of training program, but private religious, community or volunteer organizations generally develop standards based on their own needs. If you have the creativity, drive and patience to make the lives of others truly better, become an English as a Second Language teacher. Search for information on starting an English education career today!