Teaching ESOL, or English for Speakers of Other Languages, offers a teacher a classroom that is always diverse. Students may be of all ages and come from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. To teach non-native students effectively, ESOL teachers must have the proper certification.
The exact requirements for ESOL teachers vary by state, but nearly all teaching positions require a bachelor's degree. For ESOL teachers, a major in English or education often gives an advantage in the job market. Fluency in at least one language also helps.
You will also need a master's degree if you want to teach ESOL at the college level. A typical 30 to 36 credit-hour program will provide you with everything you need to teach ESOL after graduation.
ESOL candidates who opt not to complete a master's degree must obtain an ESOL training certificate after receiving their bachelor's degree. The nature of the certification program depends on state requirements and the level they plan to teach: elementary school, high school, college, or adult education. Courses typically include bicultural or multicultural studies, as well as practical courses on teaching reading and writing skills for non-native speakers.
The global association Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Foreign Languages offers an online directory for finding an appropriate ESOL program, with over 450 listings for academic and training programs in the United States and Canada.
ESOL candidates who plan to teach English overseas have further options. To teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) overseas, the minimum qualification is a TEFL certificate. The certification program is an intensive 2 to 6 week program that focuses on practical training and language methodologies. The Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Foreign Languages association recommends a longer-running program of at least 4 weeks to gain the proper background and experience.
Michelle Labbe has been writing online and for print since 2004. Her work has appeared in the online journals Reflection's Edge and Cabinet des Fées as well as in Harvard Book Store's anthology, "Michrochondria." She is pursuing a Master of Arts in publishing and writing at Emerson College.