Helping Others Succeed
Many people agree that teaching English as a second language is a great way to broaden your horizons and improve your job prospects. But with so many different options for getting your ESL certification it can be difficult to decide which option is best. Before you invest your precious time and hard-earned cash, here are a few things you might want to think about.
Qualifications to Teach English as a Second Language
The qualifications you will need will depend on whether you want to become a fully qualified ESL professional, or if you just want to try teaching abroad.
If are serious about making a career of becoming an ESL teacher, you should start by obtaining a relevant degree. This might be English, or perhaps something in the field of education. You could also complete a master’s degree if you wanted to. Studying both theory and teaching practices will give you the confidence you need when you first stand up in front of your own class. As a licensed ESL teacher you can teach in both public schools and colleges.
There are many other types of ESL courses you can study without any previous qualifications. Sometime all you need is enthusiasm, good communication skills, a willingness to learn, and of course a high level of spoken and written English.
The TESOL certificate requires no previous qualifications to study and is considered the gold standard by language schools worldwide. Although the course can sometimes be studied weekly over an number of months, the most popular way of studying is to take an intensive 4 –6 week course.
You can even do your training in the country where you wish to teach, and if you are lucky the language school will guarantee you a job in one of their centers when you have completed your course.
Fees for this kind of training ranges from about $1,000–$2,000. It’s not cheap but it will give you the skills to earn money through teaching, so it could easily pay for itself in the long term.
Another increasingly popular option is learning online. The big plus here is that you can study at times that suit you, which is great if you are juggling another job or other commitments. The cost is also considerably less. You can expect to pay around $100–$400 for roughly 100 hours of study.
The downside is that not all language schools will accept online qualifications. You will find that they are more widely accepted in China than in European countries, so think about where you want to teach before you make a decision.
Speaking a Foreign Language
Some people might worry about not being able to speak another foreign language, but that’s not a problem. Most language schools favor an immersion approach where only English is spoken in the classroom. This way, students learn the language in a more natural way.
It’s as close as you get to leaning English as a child, picking it up from what you hear. In fact, many language schools prefer it if you can’t speak the local language, as it is easy to lapse into explaining things in the student’s native language, which slows down the students’ progress. You’ll soon find that you become very creative, using gestures and pictures to help your students understand what you are saying in the classroom.
Interacting with Students
Finding ways to interact with different types of students will always be part of the job. There are so many different options and that what makes teaching English so interesting. You might find yourself teaching children in a summer camp, teaching business English for an international company, or preparing international students for English language proficiency tests required for admission to English speaking universities.
You don’t even have to go abroad to teach. Depending on your qualifications you could specialize in public school or community education with recent arrivals in the USA who need to learn English to thrive in their new home.
In fact, you don’t even need to leave the house to teach. There is an increasing demand for online English lessons via Skype or in virtual classrooms. Most students will be based in other countries, so you need to be aware of time differences. China, for example, is 12 hours ahead of New York. It could be tricky finding a time when both you and your students are available for lessons, but it’s not impossible.
Benefits of Teaching ESL
Most people find that getting their ESL qualification opens doors to many exciting opportunities. It is quite common for tutors at summer camps in Europe to live with local families, which gives the opportunity to really experience local life and culture.
Even after you have finished working, it’s a great thing to add to your CV as it shows you have confidence, initiative, and some life experience, all of which prospective employers value in the work place.
There are many things to think about before getting your ESL certification, but if you feel like it might be right for you, do a little research. Read reviews, visit forums, speak to others with experience to ask questions, and then get the qualification you need to begin your journey.