How to Become an English as a Second Language Teacher


Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is a challenging profession, bringing great satisfaction when the students begin to show mastery in communicating in English. To succeed, you will need special training from a course providing both theory and practice that prepares you to stand in front of students and guide them through the intricacies of this language. There are many such courses, and to select the one most suitable, you need to be clear on your purpose and aim. If you are interested in teaching foreign students in the U.S., your preparation would be different from training to teach English as a foreign language abroad. If you have in mind a foreign country or countries that you wish to travel to and find work in, you would want to satisfy the requirements of that country or countries and take the course that meets their specifications.

Therefore, it would be to your advantage to do some research before jumping into a course. There are websites put out by universities, associations or blogs that will acquaint you with the TESL field and provide helpful information about the different courses available. Advice is also given on how to go about finding and preparing for teaching jobs abroad.

<strong>Courses in the Market</strong>

First of all, it might be helpful to distinguish between the acronyms used. TEFL, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language, is the most commonly used and refers to teaching the skills needed for teaching English in another country to students who are non-native English speakers. TESL, or Teaching English as Second Language, refers to teaching foreign students who are not native-English speakers in an English speaking country such as the USA or UK. TESOL, or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a general term referring to this field of teaching including both TEFL and TESL.

Once you are clear about your aim in taking a TESL or TEFL course, you would want to make sure that the course you select is accredited by a university or other educational institution. The course should provide a minimum of 100 to 120 hours of instruction and six to eight hours of observed and graded teaching practice. Upon completion they should confer a certificate which contains the accreditation information

The two most popular courses available worldwide are the Cambridge University CELTA, and the Trinity College TESOL. Less costly programs are available from many colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada, and by organizations sponsoring such programs. Courses are commonly held over four intensive weeks, but some part-time provisions are available. Almost all the courses require a bachelor’s degree for admission.

You will also find a plethora of online courses. Some are offered by a recognized university language institute and include the practice teaching requirement. But unless the six hours of graded practice teaching is included, you should be wary of signing up for them. Also, some foreign countries specify that they will not accept online courses.

<strong>What You Will Learn</strong>

You will learn teaching theory and methodology encompassing lesson preparation and delivery, creating tests and grading. Also included are classroom management, teaching strategies, and resources and materials. Some courses add using technology in the classroom.

The practice teaching component incorporates hands-on teaching experience in which you will plan and deliver a lesson to a group of foreign students and will be observed and evaluated by the faculty. You will also have a chance to observe best teaching practices demonstrated by experienced teachers

<strong>How to Prepare for a TEFL or TESL Course</strong>

The best way to prepare for a TEFL or TESL course is to build your skills in oral presentation and in engaging students in a learning situation. Different voluntary activities such as being a teaching assistant, teaching Sunday school, and making presentations in courses or to community groups will help to build your confidence, which is necessary for success with groups of foreign students. Brushing up on the English grammar or learning a foreign language will also help.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "How to Become an English as a Second Language Teacher," in, January 26, 2016, (accessed October 4, 2022).