ESL jobs are still widely available, both in the United States as well as EFL teaching jobs abroad. Native or extremely fluent English, plus teaching credentials, are required for English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teaching jobs. Each has become a popular field, though, so while there are numerous TESOL or TEFL job openings, they have become increasingly more competitive.
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English as a Second Language
In the USA, to teach ESL in public schools, a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree is required. The specific degrees, coursework, and licensing requirements vary widely by state. To find out the requirements in a state where you might want to teach, the quickest way is often to call a local university since the Education colleges and individual departments like TESL departments, are quite accustomed to streamlining their coursework to meet the state’s requirements. For teachers who don’t have many ESL credentials but do have education coursework, sometimes schools offer Spanish jobs for bilingual teachers–these jobs require education degrees.
Public schools in the US most often provide different levels of ESL support. ESL students in public schools are a tremendously varied group–both in language and prior schooling. Some ESL students come from countries where school was much stricter than the US, and concepts were studied earlier–so occasionally a student can speak English and outperform native English speakers in subjects like math or science. There are also students, however, who may come from war-torn countries or other areas that for various reasons left children with gaps in their prior education. These students may lack English language proficiency, as well as content area knowledge in math, science, social studies, and other curriculum due to gaps in their schooling. For this reason, ESL teachers can end up teaching very different groups of students from year to year.
In US schools, a common ESL class is a sheltered classes with a focus on language arts–reading, speaking, and writing. Another common type of class is sheltered content such as a science class for ESL students who are not yet able to use grade level science vocabulary and/or concepts (depending on the student’s prior education). Public schools also often offer classes for adults who are either seeking GEDs, actual diplomas by way of evening classes, or sometimes there are classes for parents of students to help them communicate with teachers and other employees to support their child’s education in the public school system.
Private schools do not tend to offer as many ESL classes as public schools. Often children who attend private schools are from backgrounds where English has already been a focus, whether through tutoring, pre-school, or in early grades. In private schools, the salaries and benefits are not generally as desirable as those offered by public schools.
Community colleges hire adjunct teachers to instruct classes at various levels. These jobs are rarely full-time; however, there are often many of them! So a teacher who is able to teach one community college ESL class may very well end up with a near full-time schedule depending on the offerings at that particular institution.
There are numerous online TESOL and EFL teaching opportunities both in online public schools as well as private tutoring organizations. Ads for these can be seen frequently on this and other job board websites.
Companies in both the US and abroad hire ESL and EFL teachers to come in and instruct employees on job-related vocabulary and language constructions. This may range from jobs like housekeeping to language lessons for high-tech workers like computer programmers who are new to the US and need to strengthen their non-technical language skills to adapt to their new surroundings.
Finally, colleges offer professorships for the TESL education programs. This is a highly competitive position for professors who run the college’s TESOL education program for future public school ESL teachers. Universities also often offer adjunct ESL positions for the TESOL programs. Finally, colleges often provide ESL instruction, particularly in university writing, for foreign students enrolled at the institution.
English as a Foreign Language Jobs
English as a foreign language is taught in most nations around the world. The most common places for native English speakers to seek EFL work include China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, and other Central and South American nations. Of course, many other nations offer opportunities. While some positions hire individuals with little experience and pay low wages, other positions can offer impressive salaries, housing, medical insurance, and even transportation to and from the country–though desirable positions like these would generally be offered by high level educational institutions and would require top credentials and experience.
TESL or TEFL teachers can also find jobs in companies teaching employees conversational English. Often, employees already use the language in their work and simply wish to improve. Companies often pay better than schools, though hours are fewer and often less consistent. When in China, a native English speaker looking for Chinese jobs can often secure work teaching employees at a business.
Private tutoring is probably the most common side job for TEFL teachers abroad. Teachers instruct children, adults, and college students on words and phrases they need most for upcoming trips to the US, UK, Australia, or New Zealand. This is often similar to company lessons in that students generally take the lessons in order to practice what they are learning in school or have learned. Native English speakers looking for Japanese jobs can often fund a few years based on private tutoring provided they secure long-term students (and enough of them). It is the same situation with native English speakers looking for Korean jobs in Seoul and surrounding cities.
ESL and EFL teaching jobs can be exremely rewarding and financially sound opportunities–though there are scams and risks of course! Like any other job, be well-informed about any place where you apply and research the company in depth before accepting an offer for an ESL job.