ESL means “English as a second language”. People usually use the word ESL to talk about teaching English to people who do not speak English. Usually, ESL teaching happens in an English-speaking country. Often, ESL students are people who came to live in an English-speaking country and do not speak English very well.
If we talk about teaching or learning English in a country where English is not spoken, we usually use the word “EFL”, but “ESL” is sometimes used, too.
Although more and more ESL teachers are becoming less reluctant to use technology in the classroom, going completely online is a big step, one that most have never even considered. Some can’t even imagine what it would be like to teach a class and not have your students sitting in front of you. Still, teaching English online from home is a very attractive possibility for many these days, and it’s a choice that is gaining popularity fast among ESL teachers and students, mostly because of the advantages.
- Firstly, you have all of the benefits that come with working from home. You save money on commuting costs; mothers can stay home with their kids; you set your own schedule, hours, etc…; you work within the comfort and privacy of your home, in your pajamas or sweats; you have greater freedom and independence…among others.
- Thanks to the advances in telecommunications technology and devices, you have the possibility to reach students from across the globe, students who may not have the time to take a regular course, or don’t usually have native English speakers to talk to.
- Working at home while you care for your children can be both an advantage and a complete nightmare. It’s great for a mother who has recently had a baby to be able to work from home, but you must be professional and reliable at all times. This means that if you have a student who is paying good money to talk to you for one hour, you’d better be prepared to give your student his or her full hour; you can’t run off to see to a crying baby in the middle of your lesson. Nor can you have kids running around with noisy pets in the background.
- Dealing with time zone differences can be a little tricky, particularly if you have Asian students.
- Some online payment systems are not available in some countries, so you’ll have to offer students other alternatives.
- Although it may be great to get up from bed and get to teach English online without having to shave or change, there’s the inherent risk of spending far too many hours at home and not enough outside socializing; it’s important to go out once in a while, maybe at least once a day, to do some shopping, go to gym, have lunch with friends, play some tennis, etc…
While the drawbacks may seem numerous if you’re able to handle the issues that may arise when you work from home, you’ll find that the benefits of teaching English online far outweigh the disadvantages.
Make decision on what to teach online
Will you help students build vocabulary, answer grammar questions and clarify doubts, or merely offer students the chance to speak to a native English speaker? Whatever you choose to do, you must be absolutely clear on what it is you will offer and provide some form of structure, like lessons plans or at the very least some guidelines in reference to what you will help your students accomplish. Although you may come across students who only want to talk (and have you just sit there and listen), this may not be what the majority wants. It is important that you offer what you know best. Are you great with idioms, slang, or specific vocabulary? It’s important to identify your niche.
Becoming an ESL Teacher
English as a second language (ESL) teachers instruct students whose first language isn’t English, in reading, writing and conversing effectively. These professionals are also sometimes called English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teachers. These teachers approach English skills from a real-life perspective, often focusing on conversational and job-related communication skills. They can help students function in an environment built upon the English language, or they may work abroad to introduce students to English. Travel may be required, and teachers might need an abundance of patience when working with students who may become frustrated when trying to learn an unfamiliar language.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for an ESL teacher. Most workers earn degrees in education, English, writing, or teaching English as a foreign language. Students may also earn education degrees that come with a bilingual concentration. Applicable coursework includes using technology to teach, motivating adult learners, working with learning disabilities, developing lesson plans, and teaching diverse cultures.
It’s also a good idea to learn a second language. While being fluent in a language other than English is not necessary for employment as an ESL teacher, it’s useful to have foreign language skills for this job. Training specific to acquiring a second language may be earned through certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs.
Obtain ESL Training
Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree, aspiring ESL teachers typically must complete an ESL training program. For example, a certificate program in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) can provide the basic skills needed to teach ESL and attain licensure. Individuals will learn how to assess students’ language skills, teach grammar lessons, and practice conversational skills. While many certificate programs do not require prior teaching experience, some ESL certificate programs are designed for working teachers who have already earned their teaching licenses.
Like other teachers, an ESL instructor needs a teaching license (sometimes called certification) to work professionally. Requirements vary by state and internationally, so it’s beneficial for aspiring ESL teachers to research the steps necessary to teach in a specific geographic area. Common requirements include holding a bachelor’s degree and completing an approved teacher training program. Some states have specific license requirements for adult education teachers, which an ESL teacher might fall under. Aspiring teachers may also need to pass a teaching test and a background check.
It might also be worth looking into a master’s degree. Licensed ESL teachers who want to increase their employment opportunities might want to consider earning a graduate degree in ESL. Classes can include a number of research seminars and cover topics like linguistics, literacy development, and academic English. The program often ends with the completion of an original thesis.
ESL teachers with prior experience are particularly sought after, especially for overseas jobs. Patience, empathy and a desire to work in a multicultural environment are also essential for working as an ESL instructor, and experience can help workers sharpen these skills. ESL teachers may apply for employment in diverse learning environments, such as elementary and high schools, international education programs, intensive English language programs, adult schools, community colleges, and corporations. According to PayScale.com, ESL teachers earned a national average annual salary of $41,000 as of 2016, with experience level and specific languages increasing that amount by as much as 29%.
Earning a bachelor’s degree, obtaining ESL training, getting licensed, and gaining teaching experience are all part of becoming an ESL teacher.
Become a Certified ESL Teacher
Teachers of English as a second language (ESL) work with non-native English speakers to improve their understanding of American customs, reading, and comprehension and speaking of the English language. ESL teachers work with all levels of English learners and receive specific training and credentialing that enables them to work in school settings, with community programs, and for private companies. According to Payscale.com, in 2016 the median annual salary for ESL teachers was $39,956 per year.
Starting your ESL Online class
The very first decision you’ll have to make is whether you will work for an online school, tutoring service, or run your own website. If you want to teach at an online school, you’ll have to go through the application process just as you would for any other school. You’ll most likely be required to have TEFL certification and experience. There are websites where all you have to do is sign up and create a profile to attract students, which is very easy to do, but you must realize that your profile may compete with hundreds of others. If you want to have more freedom and ultimately higher profits, then running your own website is clearly the best choice, but you must be prepared to work hard to promote your services and find students.
You can set up your own online business teaching English online with a minimum investment and watch it grow. Or work for an established online school. The choice is yours, but the important thing here is that teaching online is no longer the future. It is a reality.
Technologies to use
Online schools usually have their own online platform, usually in some form of a chat room. But if you work on your own, you’ll need to have an instant messaging service, like MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, or Skype, but also Internet VoIP service for the calls you’ll need to make to practice listening and speaking. Don’t forget that there are video conferencing platforms that are very easy to use like MSN Messenger’s where all you need is a Webcam and a microphone to deliver lessons that are just as real as face-to-face classes. You may also choose to record podcasts or audio files in MP3 format. Explore the possibilities and make use of all of the technological resources available on the Internet.
Deciding cost of service
Online schools usually transfer payments to your bank account, PayPal account, or use some sort of payment processor. Some may even send you a check. For those who run their own online business, PayPal offers some very useful services, but you may also choose to accept payments through other means like credit cards. As for rates, online English teachers charge anywhere between $15 and $50. Do a bit of research and find out what your competitors are charging. The lowest rates are usually for conversation, with no grammar teaching or lessons.
Promoting your online business
If you decide to start your own online business teaching English, you won’t find any students unless you promote it. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to do this online:
- Advertise on websites with a lot of English learners.
- Find online tutor databases, like Tutor Agent, sign up, and create an engaging profile to attract students.
- Actively participate in ESL forums and always leave your signature.
- Promote your business on several social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…
- Drive traffic to your website with SEO strategies, PayPerClick campaigns, and other forms of Internet marketing; add a blog to your site and provide useful tips and advice for students.
These are the simple step-by-step guide that could help you in achieving your dream of becoming a licensed and certified online ESL online English teacher without much hassle.
Happy Teaching! Teacher Daniel 🙂