ESL certification has become more and more desirable as English continues to grow as the lingua franca in a global economy. ESL – English as a Second Language courses require qualified ESL teachers to work with children and adults. The field is also commonly referred to as English to speakers of other languages (ESOL). Throughout the world, ESL teachers work with millions of learners using real life contexts and situations to teach students to speak, listen, read, and write English. ESL teachers therefore work with students of all nationalities and ages with the common goal of helping them master the English language. In schools, especially in metropolitan cities with many speakers of other languages, the need for ESL teachers is also high as the schools must be equipped to meet the educational needs of growing numbers of students who are second language speakers. ESL teachers must be therefore be well-trained to teach young children vocabulary, writing, reading and listening comprehension skills.
ESL Education and Training
Education and training requirements for ESL teachers vary according to the individual program and specific teacher career goals. Adult education centers generally require teachers to possess at least a bachelor’s degree and in some cases a master’s degree in ESL instruction, and this may include ESL certification.
A TESOL certificate (Teaching English as a Second Language) is a good way for teachers to transition into the ESL field from a K-12 or adult education learning environment. The ESL certificate provides specialized training for teachers who already have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a different field of study. Students can complete various differ degree requirements including:
- Bachelor in ESL Teaching
- Master in ESL Teaching or Masters in ESL
- Master of Education (MEd) in TESOL
- Master of Science in Linguistics
- Master of Arts in English with ESL emphasis
- Master of Arts in English with TESOL emphasis
- PhD in Education with a TESOL emphasis
- Certificate in TESOL
The TESOL certificate is a bridging program for students who already have a degree. Students typically take eighteen to twenty-one credits hours to earn the certificate. ESL courses may include:
- Second-language acquisition theory
- Adult education fundamentals
- Working with learners from other cultures
- Applied linguistics
Foreign language courses are useful in ESL certification and also for preparing teachers to interact with non-native speakers of English. Teachers in public programs may need to complete an approved teacher training program and attain school teacher licensure and some states might require ESL teachers face licensing requirements.
Some institutes may require TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or other teaching/instructor certification. TEFL certification does increase career opportunities for ESL teachers especially those who are interested in teaching abroad. In countries like China, Japan, and South Korea, there is a high demand for ESL teachers to prepare students to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). ESOL teacher training is thus an option.
Teaching opportunities with ESL certification including working at community colleges, community centers, teaching in K-12 schools will continue to be important. Certified K-12 teachers can work with younger learners while those interested in working with adult learners may chose to teach abroad or teach at the college level.
With ESL certification or ESOL training you can increase job opportunities and develop instructional skills for teaching English to non-native speakers. Along with mathematics and science education, bilingual education is one of the fast growing areas in K-12 education. Employment of adult literacy and remedial education teachers is expected to continue to increase.
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