ESL Teaching

English as a Second Language (ESL) is also known as English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Read on to learn about educational programs that train graduates to teach English learners of all ages in the U.S. and in other countries.

Inside ESL Teaching

Professional ESL teachers possess the fundamental linguistic knowledge of how people learn languages and employ theory-based methods to teach English learners speaking, listening, writing and reading skills. In addition to theories of second-language acquisition, core studies in ESL teaching involve the structure and sounds of English, as well as methods for developing learning materials and evaluating student progress. Educational programs that prepare graduates to teach ESL are available at all levels, and many certificate and degree programs are available online. Some programs award degrees in applied linguistics.

ESL teaching opportunities are available in public schools, adult education programs and company training programs. Educational requirements for each career can vary by type and by state, where licensure is mandatory. If you think an ESL teaching job may be right for you, has valuable information that can help you make your education and career decisions.

Education Information

Educational programs are often designed to address the specific needs of aspiring teachers who wish to teach in the U.S. or of those who wish to teach abroad. To teach English learners in foreign countries, a bachelor's degree and graduation from a short-term certificate program may be the only requirements for a job.

Career opportunities in ESL teaching in the U.S. include public schools, adult and higher education. These positions can be obtained after completing a bachelor's or master's degree in the field; a graduate degree is the minimum requirement for teachers in colleges and universities. Some professionals pursue careers in academic research. Requirements for how to pursue ESL teaching careers at each of these levels are outlined on the website of the field's main professional organization, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.

Certificate and degree programs are designed for different types of ESL teaching career goals. Explore the following articles to learn more about various ESL teaching educational requirements and what kind of instruction these programs offer.

Distance Learning

ESL certificate and degree programs are available online for students who wish to begin teaching overseas or pursue an advanced degree in the field. It's important to keep in mind that many programs may have in-person student teaching requirements. Look over the pages below to learn more about these distance learning opportunities.

Career Information

Prospective ESL teachers who are creative and patient may find this career rewarding. Successful ESL teachers are usually excellent communicators who appreciate and are sensitive to the cultural differences of their students. According to, ESL teachers earned a median hourly wage of $19.36 as of August 2014.

Whether you wish to teach children or adults in the U.S. or abroad, a career niche in ESL teaching is available. The following articles describe some of these career options in more depth and include information about educational requirements.

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Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • Educational Evaluation and Research
      • ESL Teaching
      • Philosophical Foundations of Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Education
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • ESL Teaching
        • Bilingual and Multilingual Teacher Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas

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