ESL Teacher: 5 Frequently Asked Questions Answered

An ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher is a person who teaches the English language to non-native speakers. Thanks to globalization, demand for ESL teachers both at home and abroad has remained strong.

However, you must realize that being an ESL teacher is not just about being fluent in the English languageTo acquaint you with this type of teaching career,  below are the 5 frequently asked questions about ESL teacher:

ESL teacher

What makes teaching ESL unique?

Teaching English as a second language to non-native speakers is like teaching math or science.  You must have an expert knowledge on the subject and some special skills.

The goal of ESL teachers is to teach students the basic elements of the English language, including its rules, usage and commands.  Moreover, ESL teachers must have a good level of cultural awareness to promote open communication and achieve all phases of learning goals.


What are the qualifications of an ESL Teacher?

As an ESL teacher, it is important that you have the right education, training and familiarity with the cultural as well as economic background of the place where you’re planning to teach.  Below are some of the qualifications you need:


Bachelor’s Degree – It is best that you earn a Bachelor’s degree in Education.  It may be also a good idea to major in English to be able to earn your teacher’s certification.  It will also give you a good start if you learn a second language that would give you an insight into your line of work.


Teaching Certification – Every teacher needs to apply for a state teaching certification before they can start a teaching profession.  Other certifications may include TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), and CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults).


Experience – Get a teaching experience from  a school with an ESL department.  If you cannot work first as an ESL teacher, you can still teach within the area of your expertise.  This way, you may not only improve your teaching ability but also gain class management skills.


Master’s Degree – a Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics not only brings educational growth to you, but also an edge to teach ESL in the US or in any country.



Are ESL teachers only for adult learners?

Most ESL teachers attract adult students who want to learn English fast because they need to work abroad.  Today, however, there are many ESL teachers in different teaching levels.  Hence, it is just a matter of choice what kind of ESL teacher you want to be and where you want to teach.

ESL teachers can work in pre-school, elementary, high school,  or college levels.  They can also work as adult education teachers, foreign or abroad ESL teachers, or as a consultant.


What are the ideal qualities of an ESL teacher?

Teaching is a skill and to be an ESL teacher takes a more than just knowledge.  There are qualities that all ESL teachers must possess to be effective and successful. Here are some of them:


Knowledge of Language and Linguistic – Although a teacher may not have to be a grammar expert, he/she should have knowledge of speech and sentence structure as well as pronunciation.


Patience – Remember, not all students are fast learners. You should not demonstrate annoyance in explaining lessons as many times as possible and correct the same mistakes repeatedly.


Flexible and fun – ESL teachers must learn to adapt to the learning mood of their students.  You should just not stick to your lesson plan.  You should bring variety and adapt teaching strategies that may help students in their learning curve and stimulate their interests.


Cultural Training – Since ESL teachers are interacting with non-native speakers, they should possess knowledge and interest for other cultures.  This will enable you to get a better understanding on how to approach your teaching task.


Compassion – A good ESL teacher encourages students to speak English properly.  Most non-native speakers lack the confidence to speak English so it would be the teacher’s task to boost their confidence and give praises to students for speaking English, even when you are correcting mistakes.



What is the average salary of ESL teachers?


The average salary of an ESL teacher depends on teaching level, experience, teaching appointments and the place where they teach.  According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, ESL teachers can be paid by the hour, on a contractual basis or every year.


ESL preschool teachers make an average of $13.20/hour and as much as $27,500/year.  Elementary ESL teachers make an average of $40,000 to $53,000 yearly while Middle and High School ESL teachers get paid an average of $46,000 to $55,000 a year.  College ESL teachers get paid an average of $48,000 to $98,000 a year while Adult ESL teachers have an average salary of $24 per hour or as much as $50,000 a year.  Moreover, if you are working abroad or as a consultant, chances are you may get other benefits such as training consultancy, travel and lodging benefits.


In essence, teaching is a challenge and it is not important if you are a new or seasoned teacher.  Your success as an ESL teacher depends on your ability to be an effective educator and your willingness to grow in the process.  Are you willing to take the challenge?

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