FAQ: Teaching English as a Second Language

English is a global language. There are more people in the world learning English than there are those who speak English as a first language; roughly 380 million people speak it as their first language while over 750 million speak it as their second.

English has become the language of business, science, technology, academics, entertainment, policy and diplomacy. The demand for English language instruction has increased dramatically in the last few years and will continue to do so. English speakers in every country have a huge career advantage, as businesses are looking for English speaking employees for the highly competitive global marketplace.

The worldwide explosion of English has resulted in a demand for highly skilled English language teachers. There are thousands of English language teaching jobs advertised globally each month. There are employment opportunities in Canada and in just about every country in the world - Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East and Europe.

An English speaker, qualified with a recognized and accredited English language teaching credential, has the opportunity to see the world or to stay at home and teach the world!

 

Why Teach English?

What do the Acronyms Mean?

What Qualifications Do You Need to Teach English?

Why Should You Take a TESOL Course?

How Do You Decide Which TESOL Course to Take?

Teaching In Canada

Teaching Overseas

ACE Job Centre

 


 

 Why Teach English?

 

Teaching English is a fun and rewarding job. When you teach English you have the opportunity to:

  • Meet new people from a wide variety of backgrounds
  • Learn about other cultures and languages
  • Develop your communication, organization and presentation skills
  • Help your students learn skills that will greatly enhance their career options
  • Travel to and live in interesting countries

Read on to find out how to get started!

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 What do the Acronyms Mean?

 

Acronyms often make it difficult to understand the English teaching industry. Here is a short list of the most common acronyms and what they mean:

ELT English Language Teaching or English Language Training
ESL English as a Second Language. Learning English in an English environment, for example Canada, Australia or the UK.
EFL English as a Foreign Language. Learning English in a non-English environment, for example Japan, Mexico or France.
TESL Teaching English as a Second Language. Teaching English in an English environment, for example Canada, Australia or the UK.
TEFL Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Teaching English in a non-English environment, for example Japan, Mexico or France.
TESOL Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This term covers both TEFL and TESL.
TEYL Teaching English to Young Learners.  Teaching children and teens, from 3 to 17 years of age.

 We use the terms TESOL and ELT because they encompass teaching English to any type of student in any environment.

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 What Qualifications Do You Need to Teach English?

To teach English, you need the following:

  • A strong command of English
  • A level of education allowing for entry into your country's higher education system*
  • A TESOL certificate is recommended. It is required in some countries in order to secure a work visa and in Canada by a number of regulatory bodies.

*A university degree is recommended. It is required in some countries in order to secure a work visa. It is required in Canada in order to apply for TESL Canada Professional Certification Standard One.

Personal qualities that make a successful English teacher include:

  • Professional
  • Reliable
  • Articulate
  • Patient
  • Friendly
  • Personable
  • Open-minded
  • Interested in other cultures and people

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 Why Should You Take a TESOL Course?

 

Taking a TESOL course can benefit you in many ways. It can:

  • Provide you with the tools, strategies, skills and knowledge to be successful as a teacher
  • Increase your self-confidence as a teacher
  • Improve your communication and presentation skills
  • Give you the opportunity to practice teaching in a safe environment
  • Increase your marketability as an ESL teacher and make you more competitive in the job market
  • Give you a professional credential

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 How Do You Decide Which TESOL Course to Take?

'TESOL course' is an umbrella term encompassing many different programs, which vary enormously. There is a wide variety of certification names, course lengths, structures, tuition fees and institutions. Deciding on a course that best suits your needs and increases your marketability and job prospects can be a confusing process.

To choose a course most suited to your needs, ask the following questions:

  • Does it cover the language system - grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation?
  • Does it cover the four language skills - reading, writing, listening and speaking?
  • Does it give you the knowledge and skills to plan lessons?
  • Does it provide you with strategies for classroom management?
  • Does it provide you with the opportunity to peer teach?
  • Does it provide you with the opportunity to teach real students?
  • Is it recognized by a professional organization or accrediting body*?

* Courses approved by an accrediting organization have been through a rigorous certification process and have met the approval of the standards committee. In Canada, TESL Canada provides recognition for English language teacher training programs. Minimum requirements for TESL Canada recognition include: 100 hours of instruction; 20 hours of practice teaching; and taught by trainers with a minimum of 5 years of teaching experience.

You also have to ask yourself how much time and money you want to invest in your qualification. To answer this, think about how long you see yourself as an English teacher. If you see yourself teaching English for a long time, invest in a longer and more expensive course. If you are not sure, invest in a course that gets you started but then allows you the opportunity to upgrade at a later time if you want to.

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 Teaching in Canada

In Canada, there is a variety of settings in which you can teach English to teens and adults:

  • Summer camps for international students held on private school and university campuses
  • Summer immersion programs for French-speaking Canadians
  • Private English language schools for international students
  • Community and church programs for immigrants
  • Workplace language programs for employees and managers
  • Government sponsored language programs for immigrants (in Canada for example, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada or LINC)
  • Community colleges and private career colleges
  • Universities
  • Tutoring students privately
 

 Pay, Working Conditions and Qualifications

The pay scales, working conditions, and qualifications required for working in Canada vary by province and by institution as well as according to the regulatory body to which the institution belongs.

To research the pay scales, working conditions and qualifications required in the area of Canada in which you wish to work, visit the following web sites:

Languages Canada: For listings of accredited language programs across Canada 

Yellow Pages: connects you to Canada's businesses, products and services, providing all the information from the business directory

City Service Directories: For listings of government language programs for immigrants, search the city's service directory under the heading Language Instruction or variations thereof.

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 Teaching Overseas

Most teachers start their English language teaching careers overseas. Currently, the most popular destinations are: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. There are also opportunities in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern and Western Europe, Central America and South America.

There are teaching opportunities in many different settings including:

  • Small private language schools
  • National language school chains
  • International language school chains
  • Nursery schools and kindergartens
  • Elementary, junior high and high schools both public and private
  • Junior, technical and vocational colleges
  • Universities, both public and private
  • Companies
  • Private tutoring.

Before accepting a position, DO YOUR RESEARCH!

The pay scales, working conditions, and qualifications for working overseas vary by country and by institution. Teaching positions are advertised on the web, in professional journals, in newspapers, by word of mouth and, most significantly through teacher recruitment agencies.

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 ACE Job Centre

For more information on how to prepare for and acquire a job teaching English as a second language, visit the ACE Job Centre.