English as a Second Language is a field devoted to helping people learn the ins and outs of the english language, and as an ESL teacher, you need to meet some requirements before working in the field. While many states let those with a bachelor’s degree teach at the elementary through high school levels after passing any licensing requirements, those teaching ESL need to meet other requirements. Whether you are a current college student or just thinking about your future, you can easily find out what qualifications will let you teach ESL.
The bachelor’s degree is the first step towards becoming an English language teacher. You typically need a degree in English or a degree in teaching or education, and some students select a double major in both fields. Before you can teach language to others, you need to better understand the language, including how to put words together in sentences, the different syntax associated with different words and the meaning of words. An education program can also help you learn how to handle problem students and other issues that you might find on the job.
Colleges make it easy for education majors to gain teaching experience. All students must complete a student teaching experience, which consists of two different components. The first is the observation stage. While watching a teacher working in the classroom, you can see how the techniques that you learned work in the field. You’ll observe a teacher working in the same specialty as you and watch students in the same age range that you plan to work with later. The second stage lets you take over for the teacher and see how well you can handle the classroom on your own. If you major in English, you can gain experience through an internship, as a tutor or as a substitute teacher.
If you want to teach English as a Second Language at the college level, you need to go to graduate school after finishing your bachelor’s degree. The Teaching English as a Second Language International Association recommends enrolling in a program in linguistics or a specialized TESOL subject. Some schools offer a Master of Education in the subject, while other schools let you take English as your secondary topic. You’ll even find schools that let you develop your own graduate teaching degree program. Some schools offer specialized programs that let you complete an ESL certificate instead of a graduate degree.
Before you apply for jobs as an ESL teacher, you usually need certification in your state. If you plan to work for an organization that helps recent immigrants or a firm that specializes in ESL teaching for businesses, you can look for jobs after finishing your degrees. If you want to work in a school setting, you need a teaching certificate. The requirements for certification in your state might include a background check, a drug test or a licensing examination that asks you questions about different topics an what teachers do in the field.
Teachers specializing in ESL work with people who just moved to the country and those who have problems with the English language. The requirements to be an ESL teacher include fieldwork or teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree and often a master’s degree.
Related Resource: What are the Prerequisites for Admission to a Teaching Program?