ESL - What’s It All About?
English as a Second Language, or ESL, is a term commonly used to describe the practice of teaching English to non-English speakers. The need for ESL services has grown significantly in recent years due to the number of students studying English. International students and refugees require ESL support to develop strong language skills.
If you’re currently an ESL teacher or interested in educating second-language learners, obtaining a master’s degree in ESL will prepare you to effectively tutor your students. With a master’s degree, you’ll qualify for many in-demand jobs that offer high pay and mobility. ESL teachers work abroad and locally in schools, universities, and community centers. It’s an exciting field with a wide range of career possibilities. Earning an advanced degree will enhance your employment opportunities and will lead the way to more responsibilities and higher pay.
ESL programs offer an important service to many individuals. They offer students a chance to learn English in order to find employment or educational opportunities. ESL education is provided in secondary and vocational schools, English learning centers, and other provides looking to assist in building English language fluency. Foreign language teachers are different from ESL instructors, however. An ESL teacher works with speakers of many different languages and cultural backgrounds. It is unlikely that an ESL teacher will speak the languages of the students. ESL is also referred to as English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) or English language learners (ELL). Teachers of ESL students are highly-qualified educators with specific training in language instruction.
Job Duties of ESL Instructors
Where you work will determine your day-to-day responsibilities. If you teach abroad, you can choose to live and work in a country that you've always wanted to visit. You might have noticed an increase in ESL jobs in China, Korea, and other Asian countries. Many European countries also hire ESL teachers to work in schools, tutoring centers, and after school programs. Teaching abroad is a great opportunity to see the world, potentially learn a new language, and advance your career. ESL teachers can also offer private lessons and small group classes for students. This is a great way to build your resume and further develop your ESL teaching skills.
According to O*Net OnLine, literacy teachers and instructors typically perform the following job duties:
- Adapt teaching methods and instructional materials to meet students' varying needs, abilities, and interests.
- Maintain accurate and complete student records as required by laws or administrative policies.
- Prepare and administer written, oral, and performance tests, and issue grades in accordance with performance.
- Conduct classes, workshops, and demonstrations to teach principles, techniques, or methods in subjects such as basic English language skills, life skills, and workforce entry skills.
- Observe and evaluate students' work to determine progress and make suggestions for improvement.
- Establish clear objectives for all lessons, units, and projects and communicate those objectives to students.
- Instruct students individually and in groups, using various teaching methods such as lectures, discussions, and demonstrations.
- Guide and counsel students with adjustment or academic problems, or special academic interests.
By earning your master's degree in ESL, you'll likely perform these tasks in addition to higher-level research and leadership and development activities. ESL teachers play an important part in helping their students acquire fluency in English, both spoken and written.
Graduate Degrees in ESL
Many schools offer a graduate-level degree in ESL. Students interested in pursuing a master's degree can elect enroll in an M.Ed (Master of Education) program with a specialization in ESL or an M.Ed in TESOL. These programs incorporate second-language learning instruction with a variety of other courses that may include:
- language theory
- cultural acclimation
- language production
- language theory
- linguistics and grammar
In order to apply to these programs, you will need a bachelor's degree to be considered for admission. Other requirements vary by school so it's important to research each program carefully to see if you meet their admissions criteria. Some programs offer additional classes to prepare graduates to assume roles other than educator. These roles may include:
- educational consultant
- military foreign language consultant
- linguist / college professor
- department chair
- program director
ESL programs open doors to many exciting career choices and other professional opportunities. If you know you want to teach second-language learners, going back to school for a graduate degree is wise decision, both financially and academically. Our list of schools provide all the information you need to find a program that fits your needs and interests. Tuition, degree requirements, and other institutional data can be found by clicking on any one of the schools listed above.