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English as a Second Language (ESL)

What is ESL?
ESL stands for English as a Second Language. You may sometimes see “TESL”, which refers to the Teaching of English as a Second Language. Opportunities to teach ESL exist both abroad as well as in the United States and the need for qualified ESL teachers continues to grow. Teaching opportunities can be found in various settings such as private and public schools, professional organizations and corporations as well as universities. Private lessons and tutoring are also possibilities depending on the country where you are working.

Training and Certification Requirements
Most teaching opportunities abroad require at least a bachelor’s degree for teaching ESL. You will also need a work visa, which is typically sponsored by and sometimes paid for by the school.  An ESL teaching certificate is not always a requirement and is dependent upon the school in which you will be working.

A bachelor’s degree is required in order to obtain ESL certification. A degree in any subject is typically acceptable as long as you are able to pass subject matter exams to prove your English abilities. Often, the more competitive schools require certification.

Many schools abroad do not require teaching experience but your chances of getting hired will be greater if you have it.

Compensation for teaching English abroad varies tremendously depending on the employer and the country in which you are working. Many programs offer a monthly stipend, health insurance, round trip airfare and some may even provide housing. Be sure to thoroughly research your school options and the benefits provided. Additionally, you may be required to sign a year-long contract as part of the job offer.

Identifying Programs
There are a number of things to consider when identifying a program that will best fit your values, skills and interests. Likely the most critical of these is the program location. Be sure to research the countries that you may be considering in order to make an informed decision. Program location can often determine the level of comfort in your housing arrangements, income and overall daily living environment. Also, many programs are operated through agencies while others contract directly with teacher applicants. It is important to thoroughly examine the agencies and/or schools to determine which may be the best fit for you.

Application Process
Most schools will have websites which will provide guidance and instruction on applying to their programs as well as their application deadlines. Be sure to allow yourself sufficient time to prepare and collect the required documents in order to meet the school’s published deadlines. You will likely need to submit at least: your university transcript, a resume, cover letter, references, letter of interest and if required, a copy of your teaching certification.