ESL Teaching Degrees: Requirements to Enroll in and Complete an ESL Teaching Degree Program

Published Sep 15, 2009

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An English as a second language (ESL) teaching degree program prepares graduates to teach adult or school-age students from varying language backgrounds to speak, read and write in English. Most ESL teaching degree programs are at the graduate level. Some are designed for aspiring kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, while others are designed for future adult-learning instructors.

Enrolling in an ESL Teaching Degree Program

Most English as a second language (ESL) teaching degree programs are graduate-level, with both master's degrees and professional certificates widely available. However, neither may be necessary to become an ESL teacher. Most employers of ESL teachers require at least a bachelor's degree, though many accept a variety of educational backgrounds. Similarly, state licensure is not always a requirement to become an ESL teacher. Licensure is mandated for public school teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

To enroll in an ESL teaching degree program, you generally need a bachelor's degree. Some schools may require graduate students without an education-related degree to take some undergraduate courses prior to entering a master's degree or professional certificate program in ESL teaching.

ESL teachers don't have to be bilingual. However, before enrolling in an ESL teaching program, you should consider taking courses in a foreign language. In some parts of the country, where large numbers of immigrants come from a particular language background, ESL teachers may have better employment opportunities if they are fluent in that particular language.

Completing an ESL Teaching Degree Program

There are two types of ESL teaching degree programs. One is designed for those interested in teaching students in kindergarten through 12th grade, while the other is geared toward those who plan to work with adults.

ESL teaching degree programs with K-12 specializations typically cover basic teaching theories and fundamentals of language instruction. Classes in this type of ESL teaching degree program include planning and managing instruction, culture and language acquisition.

Those completing an ESL teaching degree with an adult-student focus usually take courses in cross cultural communication and advanced linguistics. Classes required in this type of ESL teaching degree program include teaching pronunciation, grammar usage in ESL teaching and ESL teaching methods.

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