English as a Second Language

Whatever you call it: ESL, TESOL, EFL or ELL, teachers of English are a special lot. Whether they grew up in a home where a language other than English was spoken, traveled abroad and learned the importance of language, or want to help immigrant groups integrate into American society, ESL teachers make a difference.

English as a Second Language

Whatever you call it: ESL, TESOL, EFL or ELL, teachers of English are a special lot. Whether they grew up in a home where a language other than English was spoken, traveled abroad and learned the importance of language, or want to help immigrant groups integrate into American society, ESL teachers make a difference.

Online Degrees for ESL Teachers

ESL teachers can teach at any grade level in preschool, elementary or secondary school. Whatever the age of their students, they need to be licensed to teach in their state. To get a teaching license and teach ESL, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in ESL. You’ll also need to do supervised student teaching and pass exams.

With the exception of your student teaching experience, which must be done on-site, many teachers today get their teaching degrees online.

Salary and Job Growth

Salary Information

ESL teachers have a fun job, and they make a good salary for what they do. And the benefits don’t stop at the paycheck. ESL teachers find their jobs very rewarding, and they get summers off to travel, take continuing ed courses, or work to earn even more money.

The median salary for ESL teachers depends on the grade they teach. Above are median salaries for 2014, the last year for which data exists.

Job Growth Information

ESL teachers help their students learn more than just language. Adapting to culture and learning how to interact with English speakers is yet another component.

As with the salaries above, job growth must be broken out by grade level, although it’s likely that, depending on where you live, there will be a greater demand for ESL teachers.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook.
*The salary information listed is based on national median salaries, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Teaching Career Skills

You have great language skills

You want to help students succeed

You're a creative problem solver

You're a lifelong learner

You love learning about other cultures

You are proud of the work you do

You know how to teach English

You believe in the power of education

Work Environment

What grades can I teach?

ESL teachers work at all grade levels, from the youngest kids to adults. The grade you teach depends on the age group you care most about. Some people know they want to teach younger students while others prefer working with middle and high school students, or even with adults in community colleges.

What's the job like?

Special teachers are language and culture experts, and they have special training so they can work well with students from many different countries. Their students change from year to year, so it’s important not to hang onto linguistic crutches that work for Spanish speakers. Next year, you might have more Chinese, Russian or Ethiopian students.

That’s why the job is as varied as the student base, and the linguistic challenges—and solutions you find—will change from class to class and year to year.

Day in the Life

Like other teachers, ESL teachers follow an English-language curriculum, develop lesson plans and teach classes that are adapted to their students’ needs. They may teach basic literacy and communication skills to students who’ve had no exposure to English. Or they may teach higher-level English to students who are on the verge of being mainstreamed. Like other teachers, they communicate with parents, fill out report cards, and give students the specialized attention they need.

Program Overview

English language learners have particular needs, and they need more support than most students. That’s where you come in.

But first, you’ll need to get a bachelor’s degree so that you can learn how to teach non-native speakers. A supervised student-teaching internship will also be required, and it will let you see what the job is really like. This is where you’ll work under a mentor who can give you support as you’re learning the teaching techniques you’ll need to be a successful ESL teacher.

What You’ll Study

A bachelor’s degree in ESL will teach you how to be a successful teacher.

In a bachelor’s degree, you’ll take the same core courses as other undergraduates, but you’ll then specialize in ESL, with a heavy component of grammar, reading, writing, oral comprehension and expression.

Length of Program

To become an ESL teacher, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in ESL. Most people finish their bachelor’s degree in four years, but some take longer, depending on their circumstances. And if you go on to get your master’s, it’ll take about two more years. But don’t forget the many convenient online options for getting a bachelor’s or master’s in ESL.

Sample Classes

As a future ESL teacher, you’ll take specialized coursework for ESL teachers:

  • Second Language Acquisition
  • English Grammar and Pronunciation for Language Teachers
  • Classroom Management
  • Second Language Research
  • Second Language Evaluation
  • Curriculum Development
  • Assessment of Diverse Students
  • K-12 Methods of Teaching ESL
  • Sociolinguistics

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Early Childhood Education

From crayons to show-and-tell, set the foundation for young learners.

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Elementary Education

Inspire children in grades K-8 to a lifetime of learning.

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Secondary Education

Help shape your students as they become young adults.

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Special Education

Make a real impact in the lives of differently abled students.

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Administration

Improve the quality of education at the school or district level.

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