Demand for teachers of ESL, or English as a second language, has surged in recent years.
Teaching the English language to non-native speakers, ESL education is popular the world over. In the U.S., it’s estimated that around 10% of all students enrolled in public schools are undergoing ESL teaching in any given academic year as part of their studies.
This amounts to as many as five million students at a time, according to Miriam Chesner New Jersey, a New York University graduate who holds a Master’s degree in ESL. “The future’s bright for ESL teachers and educators, especially in the United States,” she adds.
Indeed, the U.S. is currently home to more immigrants than any other country in the world. Accordingly, the nation boasts over 43 million non-native English speakers, equivalent to around 13% of the population. “Just two generations ago, that number was less than 5%,” reveals Chesner.
Education & School System
Chesner, who’s also a Spanish teacher and expert on South American culture, goes on to point out that it’s not purely about education or the school system. “While many of those qualified in ESL will find work as teachers in either public or private institutions, both in the U.S. and internationally, ESL qualifications boast many other applications,” she explains. “These include working within international agencies or alongside multinational and domestic private companies. Positions as advisors or researchers for publishing companies, for example, are always in demand too.”
According to Chesner, a good number of those qualified will go on to author ESL textbooks and other teaching materials. “There’s also a strong demand for graduates in the translation business and within travel and tourism, as well as working in cultural mediation,” says the expert.
Those looking to teach specifically will generally undergo practical and professional training. “Study will often focus on classroom situations and methodologies of teaching, for example,” explains Chesner. “Many will also take further elective courses, such as teaching specifically to children.”
Chesner points out that in the U.S., many states have particular requirements for becoming an ESL teacher. “Check your state’s board of education’s requirements for ESL teacher certification,” she suggests. Alternative paths to licensure often also exist, as do secondary endorsement options, according to Chesner.
Of those arriving in the U.S. from non-English speaking countries around the world, in terms of accessing the so-called ‘American dream,’ nothing is more important, or more powerful, than the ability to read, write, and speak the English language, says Chesner.
“And with that,” she adds, wrapping up, “there’s no person more instrumental in the process than a qualified ESL teacher.”