dcsimg
 

What is an ESOL teacher?

Home > Ask the Guidance Counselor > Teacher > What is an ESOL teacher?

ESOL stands for "English to Speakers of Other Languages," but there are many similar acronyms. For example, ESL stands for "English as a Second Language." These terms are often used interchangeably, but they all generally refer to the same thing -- An ESOL teacher is someone who teaches English to students who grew up speaking a different language.

According to Face the Facts USA, there aren't enough ESOL teachers to go around. In most public schools, there is only one ESOL teacher for every 150 students. Compare that to the usual ratio of one teacher to fifteen students, and the need for more ESL teachers becomes clear. Students who are interested in ESL programs should keep in mind that this is a promising career with numerous options for employment.

Sometimes the best way to learn about a new career is by talking to someone who has already walked that path. Kristie Shelley, Vice President of Lingual Learning, has worked as an ESOL teacher and now runs a company dedicated to the professional development of ESOL teachers.

About the Expert

Kristie Shelley, Vice President of Lingual Learning, has worked as an ESOL teacher and now runs a company dedicated to the professional development of ESOL teachers.

How do you become an ESOL teacher?

Shelley: I went through the traditional route of receiving my teaching credential, with the addition of what is called a CLAD certification for the state of California. CLAD stands for Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development. Through this certification you are required to take courses that focus on strategies and approaches for Second Language Learners.

I actually taught at an elementary school. Every student in my classroom either spoke Spanish or Vietnamese at home -- every lesson I taught had an ESOL spin. Many state credential programs include the option for adding a certification for teaching Second Language Learners. When one wants to pursue ESOL in the terms of teaching adult education or abroad, there are many ways to get certified, like through private courses, but potential teachers can often be trained and certified by the future employer.

What are the preferred skills of an ESOL teacher?

Shelley: There are many skills and qualities that will help a teacher of Second Language Learners. First and foremost you need to respect each student's first language. You can often use their knowledge and skills in their first language to your advantage, like when working with cognates. Second, having the ability to make every moment an opportunity to advance language takes practice and skill, but can be achieved. I looked at every lesson I taught as an opportunity to advance my students' English skills. Whether we were doing math, science, or music, there was always a chance to grow their language input and output. I think having learned another language yourself can have its advantages -- you've been in your students' shoes!

How is becoming an ESOL teacher different than a traditional grade school teacher?

Shelley: A teacher that is going to work with Second Language Learners needs to receive advanced training beyond the basic credential you would receive as a traditional classroom teacher. An ESOL/ESL teacher would need to learn many levels of language learning from basic skills, language nuances, to advanced academic language. A traditional grade school teacher typically does not have to focus on the BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) and CALPs (Cognitive Academic Language Proficency) when they have all students in their class speaking the native language -- in this case, English.

Is there a difference between the acronyms: ESOL, ESL, TEFL, TESL?

Shelley: They all have the same goal, to help Second Language Learners become fluent and functional in a target language. TEFL and TESL, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) are often used internationally. ESL (English as a Second Language) and ELD (English Language Development) are often used in the US education system. ESOL is also a term used in US education systems, but it is often used for adult education too.

Are ESOL teachers more in-demand abroad or in the U.S.?

Shelley: This is becoming a rapidly growing field everywhere. We have US public schools that are finding higher and higher populations of Second Language Learners every year -- and in some cases they started with a zero population. It is also an area of high demand internationally. It is safe to say if you have training and experience with ESOL you will have job security in the US education system and abroad.

Why would you recommend someone to enter this career field?

Shelley: It is amazing to watch someone learn a new language over time and become confident in communicating. It is rewarding to know you are making a difference in this student, which translates into making a difference in the world. Being bilingual or multilingual opens doors, opens communication, and promotes the cause of peace. When one learns a new language and culture, he/she often feels connected and has the power to bridge gaps between cultures.

Sources:

  • Limited-English students test public schools, August 12, 2013, http://www.facethefactsusa.org/facts/limited-english-students-test-public-schools
  • Interview with Kristie Shelley, June 22, 2015
  • Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm#tab-4

Browse ESL Programs

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
            Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
            Matching School Ads
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
            • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
            • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
            • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked 33rd among the Best Grad Schools for Social Work in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Founded in 1904 as the nation’s first institute of higher learning to offer training for clinical social workers.
            • Provides a rigorous education, including a nationally accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) Program and PhD in Social Work.  
            • Offers inventive programs with hands-on experience.  
            • Incorporates social justice values and multicultural perspectives into curriculum. 
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Accredited by the American Library Association, this program focuses on both the theory and practice of library science and grounds students in the knowledge, skills and values to become change agents in the field across a broad range of industries.
            • The MS in Library and Information Science (MLIS) curriculum prepares students for careers in a broad range of settings, including academic institutions, public libraries, corporations, government agencies, and cultural institutions.
            • This program is 36 credits and can be completed in 18 months.
            • The innovative learning technology platform helps students cultivate lifelong professional relationships and personally interact with a worldwide community of students and alumni—all while having the flexibility to continue working full time.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
            • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
            • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
            • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
            • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found

            Why Choose Widener University?

            At Widener University, we proudly cultivate challenging and culturally diverse learning environments where academics, leadership, and service come first. Our curricula are connected to societal issues and challenge students to take social responsibility for their role in today's global society.

            Founded in 1821 in Chester, Pennsylvania, Widener is nationally recognized for our commitment to civic engagement, service, and social responsibility. The university has been included on the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction every year since its inception in 2006.

            • Online Courses
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Founded over 60 years ago on the principles of inclusion and social justice.
            • Offers credit for previous life and work experience.
            • Equipped with over 17,000 titles in their library.
            • Has 3 semesters and 6 start dates a year.
            • Located in Pasadena, CA, with instructional sites in Sacramento, Salinas, Santa Cruz, and Visalia as well as online options.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
            • Received the 2013 Making a Difference for Students Award from Quality Matters.
            • Offers a free student app for smartphones and tablets, helping students keep up to date.
            • Has a Golden Key International Honour Society and SALUTE Veterans Honor Society.
            • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
            • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
            • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
            • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
            • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Get your master’s degree in just 14 months!
            • Earn your Ed.D. fully online in less than four years
            • Achieve an advanced degree on your schedule, from the comfort of your home
            • Use research-based best practices to have a more powerful impact on education
            • Further your education through affordable financial aid and competitive tuition
            • Scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid may also be available to help students with their tuition.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Designated as a Military Friendly School every year since 2012 by Victory Media.
            • Offers credit for prior learning and experience through assessment tests.
            • Provides a short term Leadership Certification program in partnership with EQUIP®.
            • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits