Non-native English speakers may go to special classes to help them learn more about the English language. These classes are taught by professionals who have earned their ESL certification and are trained in various teaching styles to help students learn the English language.
English is one of the most complex languages to learn and for students studying it as their second language, teachers must be able to guide them through its intricacies in a clear manner.
If you are interested in teaching English as a second language, then follow our guide below on how to get ESL certification.
Why You Should Earn an ESL Certificate?
Learning how to teach English as a second language is a rewarding job that allows you to use different teaching methods to interact with students from diverse backgrounds.
While teaching ESL, you’ll get a good grasp of different cultures, learn different teaching styles depending on the student, and you’ll even have the opportunity to work both within and outside the United States.
The opportunities that come with being an ESL teacher are endless and remember, while working with speakers of other languages, you may also learn their language.
Different Types of ESL Certifications
There are a few different English as a Second Language teaching certifications. Each one is used for different career opportunities. Let’s take a look at the different certifications below.
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)
A TEFL certification is for people who are looking to teach ESL in a non-English speaking country. These teachers teach students who only speak their native language and are looking to learn the English language. For example, a class in Israel that teaches kids the English language.
TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language)
Teachers holding a TESL certificate instruct students to help them learn the basic foundations of English. Students who learn from TESL teachers may never really use the English language outside of their home country. They may have to use it primarily for business, but do not plan on using it in their everyday lives.
TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
A TESOL certification is primarily used by ESL teachers who want to teach in a public school or find work teaching English abroad. In the public school system, these ESL teachers teach English Language Learners (ELLs), which are students in grades K-12. These ESL teachers instruct students who were possibly born in an English speaking country, but learned a foreign language at birth and do not speak English very well. TESOL teachers help them improve their English to transition into public schools.
Steps to Get ESL Certification
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an ESL teacher, below are the steps you should take to get your ESL certification.
Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree
To start, you will need to get a bachelor’s degree. Most people get their degrees in English, education, or other related fields. During this time, you will learn all the necessary skills you need to know about the English language to help prepare you to be an ESL teacher.
Start Student Teaching Courses
While getting your bachelor’s degree, you can start gaining experience by attending student teaching classes. Most educational programs will require you to complete this to graduate and it allows you to start gaining experience as an ESL teacher. In an English language classroom, you will be able to learn teaching methods to better communicate with students who speak a foreign language.
While gaining experience through a student teaching program, you will qualify to obtain your ESL certification. Some ESL certificate programs will offer an endorsement to add on to your degree. This endorsement program lets you focus your degree on ESL. Once you start, it takes about 12 months to complete the certification program.
Get Your Master’s Degree
While student teaching or after, you may get your Master’s Degree in Education, English or ESL fields. Many employers may require you to get your master’s degree and if you have not received your ESL certification yet, you can put your credit toward a graduate-level certification. Getting your master’s degree will help you teach English as a second or foreign language effectively and efficiently. You will learn and develop various teaching methods and routines to better help students in a way they can understand and relate to as well.
What You Will Learn in an ESL Certification Course
While you are getting your ESL certificate, you will learn multiple skills to prepare you for your career. To get your certificate, you will have to pass these skill tests to show you understand the logistics of the English language. You must demonstrate the following:
Speaking: Teachers must be able to speak clearly and effectively to teach students various speaking methods. They must be able to teach their students how to pronounce words correctly, understand vowels, syllabus, and more.
Listening: Teachers must show that they understand a typical conversation flow. To teach their students, they must know how words should be received, the understanding of them, sounds of letters and words, and so on. This will help students avoid confusion between words that may sound the same but have a different meaning.
Reading and Writing: Before students can start writing, they must understand how to read the English language correctly. Teachers must understand basic English reading concepts such as grammar, vocabulary, etc. After that, they must pass a writing test which shows they can write effective sentences correctly with proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other writing techniques.
ESL Certification Classes
The courses you will take in an ESL certification program include:
- Theories of foreign/second language learning
- Phonology/morphology for EEL students
- Principles of Linguistics
Where Do ESL Teachers Work?
ESL teachers primarily work in schools that teach K-12 grade. But depending on your certificate, you can teach abroad in any country that is looking for ESL teachers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ESL teachers make an average of $54,350 per year in the United States.
Is Getting an ESL Certification For You?
After reading this article, you should have a good idea of how to get ESL certification. Being an ESL teacher is a rewarding job and will open your mind to various cultures and the backgrounds of different people.
With different certifications, your teaching opportunities broaden and you can teach in places of your choosing.
ESL Certification FAQ
Can I teach ESL abroad?
Yes. When you are ESL certified, you can travel to other countries and teach English there.
Do I need a master’s degree to be an ESL teacher?
Most employers require a master’s degree to teach ESL. It would be a good idea to get one.
Is ESL teaching a rewarding job?
Yes. Being an ESL teacher is a rewarding job because you can make an impact on people’s lives by improving their language skills. You deal with people from all different types of backgrounds and cultures and you can learn about those cultures through your students.
How much does an ESL teacher make?
An ESL teacher in the United States makes an average of $54,350 per year.