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How To Become an ESL Teacher

What Is an ESL Teacher?

An ESL teacher helps people who speak another language to learn English. The way in which they do that can vary depending on the student. For instance, ESL teachers can travel abroad to teach, instruct international students, or even teach students in any location online. Their students can include people of all different ages and they may teach at the very basic level of introductory English all the way up to a more advanced level.

In addition to where students are taught, there is also the question of how they are taught. Non-English speakers will not only need to know how to speak English, it’s likely that they’ll also want to learn how to read, write, and communicate effectively in English and it will be the job of the ESL teacher to guide them in their learning.

Responsibilities of an ESL Teacher

ESL teachers have many of the same responsibilities as other teachers and more. For instance, they present educational materials to their students, grade papers, and evaluate a student’s progress. However, an ESL teacher will often act as a mentor as learning a new language can be complex and it’s up to the instructor to guide their students on how to properly communicate the English language within a real-life context.

ESL Teacher Skills

In addition to the education requirements, they must meet, ESL Teachers need to have a wide variety of skills that will help them to be an effective teacher to people of all different backgrounds and abilities. They must have patience, be a good communicator, and have a basic understanding of cultural differences. Connecting and communicating with people is key and ESL teachers need to know how to express thoughts in an effective manner without offending or upsetting someone.

Qualifications For Becoming an ESL Teacher

If becoming an ESL teacher is your passion, you’ll want to know the steps you need to take to become one. There are multiple paths you can take, and requirements may vary depending on the country in which you teach. In general, you’ll need to at least have a bachelor’s degree, plus you’ll also need to be licensed and have completed a teacher certification program. Although there may be some instances where you may not need all of these to teach in other countries, or in a private setting, obtaining them will open many doors to you and provide you with the most opportunities.

In addition to the formal education requirements, it is also helpful for ESL teachers to be computer literate as many classes are now taught online. They should also have excellent written and verbal communication skills and consider training in a second language.


As mentioned above, one of the qualifications for most ESL teaching jobs is certification. When looking for a certification course, it’s important to make sure you find one that is taught by a reputable organization. Consider things like whether or not they are accredited by external bodies and their international reputation. There are several different certifications available, but TESOL is one of the most widely recognized. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and the majority of employers will require their ESL teachers to have this certification.

You can receive your TESOL certification within a relatively short time. Most programs include 120-hours of instruction which may be completed in less time if you are enrolled in an online program and have the time to dedicate to it.

Contact Central Overseas Education Services

Whether you’re researching how to become an ESL teacher, are interested in learning English as a second language, or are currently teaching and would like to operate your own TESOL center so you can help others to become ESL teachers, Central Overseas Education Services can help. We’ve partnered with Global TESOL College — an internationally recognized provider of TESOL certification that is registered with Human Resources Development Canada. We also work with numerous universities and have many international partners around the globe that can provide you with easy access to teaching jobs once you’re finished.

Do you have questions about how to become an ESL teacher or do you want to learn more about Central Overseas Education Services? Follow along with our blog for interesting articles and information on teaching English as a second language. You can also contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have so you can get started on your journey toward a new career!