Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL), or English as a Second Language (ESL) refers to the study or use of the English language by people whose native language is not English.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, about 4 million students received TESOL/ESL training in 2003. Teachers who are certified to teach these students have taken extensive educational training, including a master’s degree in TESOL/ESL, that prepares them to meet the needs of students who are learning English as their second language.
Many students who become proficient enough in English may eventually sit for the TOEFL test, which is taken by 26 million students annually. This test helps to show their proficiency in English, which is a requirement to be admitted as an international student at many American universities.
TESOL & ESL Job Description
TESOL and ESL teachers assist adults to better speak, read, write and listen in the English language. Students in ESL classes may learn to write and basic conversation, or they might focus on learning communication skills that are directly related to their job or academic setting. TESOL teachers will work with adults from a very diverse background. These teachers need to be ready to teach people of all ages and from many different ethnic and language backgrounds. Some of these ESL students will have an extensive education from their home county in their native language, and others may be mostly uneducated. Teachers need to be able to adjust their instruction and methods to the abilities of the particular student.
A master’s degree in TESOL/ESL is becoming required more often for teachers to be hired for some of the more well-paying positions in the field.
TESOL & ESL Requirements
A master’s degree in TESOL/ESL is best suited for certified teachers with 3-5 years of work experience. This master’s program is for:
- Licensed teachers with a bachelor’s degree that have a passion for ESL instruction
- Teachers at community colleges who often work in ESL settings
- School district personnel and curricula developers who often work with ESL topics
- Emergency credentialed teachers who want a master’s degree in TESOL/ESL to have higher qualifications
You will typically need to provide an official transcript that shows you received a bachelor’s of science or arts degree from an accredited university. You also will need to have a current and valid teacher’s certificate. It is recommended that you have at least a year of foreign language study at the college level.
Career and Salary Outlook for a Master’s TESOL/ESL
Teachers in adult literacy, including TESOL/ESL teachers, had about 97,000 jobs in 2008. Employment opportunities are generally on the upswing, as many teachers are nearing retirement. Major growth in employment is foreseen for ESL teachers. It also is true that employers in a tighter job market are increasing their demands for qualified workers. So it is logical that there will be a higher demand for professionals who are proficient in English, if they wish to have the opportunity to be promoted to higher positions.
The median hourly wage for all adult literacy teachers in 2008 was $23.
Online Degree Programs for Master’s in TESOL and ESL
Online programs are quite numerous to acquire a master’s degree in TESOL/ESL. Some of the coursework you can expect to cover in an online program includes English assessment/instruction, linguistics, development of curriculum, cultural sensitivity, management of classrooms, and skills to work with administration, teachers and guidance, students and families.
Many online programs feature a 40-50 hour practical experience section that allows you to put your skills to work in a real ESL environment.
TESOL & ESL Scholarships
- Tina B. Carver Fund -The Tina B. Carver Fund was established by her family and colleagues to honor the life and work of Tina B. Carver, longtime member of TESOL and the ESL/EFL community. Grants are available for funding the purchase of student classroom learning materials and/or teacher-related materials (e.g., ancillary materials that can be used in conjunction with textbooks or other instruction materials) to support adult ESL education programs in the United States.
- TOEFL Outstanding Young Scholar Award -To recognize an individual under the age of 40 whose scholarship or other major professional activities have made an outstanding contribution to the field of foreign or second language assessment.
- Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers -The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, individuals who teach full time for five consecutive, complete academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools that serve low-income families and meet other qualifications may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 in principal and interest on their FFEL and/or Direct Loan program loans.
TESOL & ESL Link Resources