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In a country like the United States, where English is the predominant language and most business is conducted in English, the inability to speak the language fluently can create a barrier to success. And as anyone who has tried to learn a language knows, it’s easiest in childhood. That spells opportunity for licensed pre-K–12 teachers who have been prepared to teach effectively in schools and other settings offering instruction in English Language Learning (ELL) or English as a Second Language (ESL).
The 2000 U.S. Census revealed that almost 20% of U.S. citizens spoke a language other than English at home, and as many as 10% were not fluent in English or didn’t speak it at all. Teachers with ESL training can help balance the cultural divide between non-English-speaking residents and their neighbors at home and at work.
Qualified ESL teachers don’t just need a solid command of the English language; they should also have an understanding of and appreciation for the cultural challenges facing their students as they try to acclimate to new neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. If you’re currently a licensed teacher with a bachelor’s degree, you can develop significant skills in ELL curriculum development, design, and evaluation. All it takes is the right program, a top-ranked teaching college, and a desire to help people fit into our society.
Teaching English as a second language offers a variety of career options to educators with the right qualifications. Look for an accredited program in English Language Learning that meets the requirements in the state where you live for an endorsement or license in ELL or ESL. Once you’ve earned it, you’ll have the essential skills and knowledge to teach English as a second language at a variety of levels and in a broad range of settings.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “At least one-quarter of the schools with vacancies in ESL, foreign languages, or special education found them very difficult or impossible to fill.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports many schools have difficulty filling teaching positions for certain subjects, including English as a second language. As a result, teachers with education in those subjects or certifications to teach those specialties should have better job prospects.
The United States has a diverse and growing population. If you are a qualified ELL or ESL teacher, you can play a vital role in helping children acclimate and assimilate into American society.
Teaching people who don’t speak, read, write, or comprehend English is a huge responsibility and requires specialized skills. Working with a diverse group of students will give you the opportunity to learn something new every day. As an ELL or ESL teacher, you’ll need to be constantly aware of how your students’ cultural identities affect language learning and school achievement. You’ll be challenged to apply concepts, linguistic theories, research, knowledge of the structure of English, and sociolinguistics to facilitate the acquisition of new language in and out of classroom settings. Most importantly, you’ll use your acquired knowledge and experiences to plan classroom instruction in a supportive learning environment for ELL students.
If you have an advanced education and the training to teach English as a second language, your skills are needed in school districts across the country. These organizations can help you get started.
ELL and ESL teachers are in demand in kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools across America. Check out some of the current opportunities.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for elementary and middle school teachers is about $55,000. Generally speaking, teachers with a master’s degree tend to earn more. Your ESL or ELL teacher’s salary will vary depending on where you live and your level of experience.
"ESL programs in elementary and secondary school are advancing to meet the needs of the young people in the U.S. who need to learn English for proficiency success in school."
One of the biggest areas of need throughout the U.S. education system is educators with the advanced knowledge and skills to teach English as a second language.
TESOL, the international organization committed to improving English language teaching worldwide, states that “areas with significant immigrant and refugee communities have a particularly high need, including California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, and other urban areas.” If you’re ready to step up and become a leader in American education, it’s time to find a nationally recognized program that can translate into a rewarding, satisfying career.
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