What does an ESL teacher do?

As English has now become the most popular second language in many parts of the world the demand for English language teachers has increased dramatically. To meet this demand, teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) have flocked to certain areas where they can experience new cultures and earn a good living. Put simply, an ESL teacher is a professional educator whose job it is to improve the English language skills of non-native speakers. Students of English can be found in almost every country worldwide and they may be learning the language for a variety of reasons, either by choice or as an obligation of their work or wider study program.

What is the difference between an ESL teacher and a foreign language teacher?

Foreign language teachers typically share the same native language as their students, which is generally not the case with ESL teachers. The style of teaching is also different between the two scenarios, as ESL teachers have usually been specifically trained in certain techniques that are particularly beneficial when teaching non-native English speakers, such as repetition, drills, demonstrations, and visual aids.

How old are typical ESL students?

The job of an ESL teacher can involve any age group, from pre-school learners to college students and upwards. Many teachers will find themselves working in mainstream schools, while others will be employed by private language schools. Language schools come in many shapes and sizes, with some primarily focused on providing extra classes for school children outside of normal school hours. Many others concentrate on providing general English classes for adults or business English lessons for those with a specific work related English requirement. As the world of ESL teaching is very broad it is important that teachers are flexible and adaptable as you never know what type of classroom environment you might find yourself working in.

In what countries do ESL teachers live and work?

It would actually be easier to say where ESL teachers do not work as the demand for their services can be found in almost any part of the world. Some teachers work within their own English speaking country where migrants and refugees with a strong need for the language can often be found in large numbers. However, the largest demand can be found in non-English speaking countries. Asia is currently the hottest location for ESL teachers, with countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan all offering a huge amount of potential jobs. The Middle East is where many of the most lucrative teaching contracts are found, although previous experience is often required to secure them. Latin America and Europe also offer a range of options in major cities and traditional vacation spots.

How can I start a career as an ESL teacher?

The best way to start out as an English language teacher is to complete a TEFL/TESOL certification course that will arm you with all the basic knowledge required. The most cost effective and convenient method is to take an online course as these can be completed at your own pace from any location in the world with an internet connection. Just remember that many employers of teachers around the world will expect you to possess a TEFL/TESOL certificate of at least 120 hours duration.

What are the benefits of being an ESL teacher?

As well as having a huge range of potential destinations for ESL teaching, there are also many different reasons why people choose to do it. For some it is the very real opportunity to earn a good living in order to pay off college debts or to save for future adventures, while others are drawn by the chance to meet new people and to explore fascinating cultures. It can also be a convenient way to leave behind the 9 to 5 grind and to start a new more fulfilling life. In short, the benefits of ESL teaching are both numerous and personal to each individual teacher.

How do I get my first job as an ESL teacher?

Worldwide demand for qualified teachers is constantly growing so jobs are always available for first-time teachers, particularly if you are willing to head to where demand is at its highest. However, as more and more people become aware of the opportunities on offer for English language teachers the competition for the best jobs can be increasingly strong. To make sure you are in the running for the best positions it is advisable to complete a TEFL/TESOL certification course as this will demonstrate that you are serious about your commitment to teaching and that you have the necessary skills to be effective in the classroom.