Teaching English as a Second Language
Q: What does an ESL teacher do?
A: An ESL teacher works with non-native speakers of English and helps them develop social and academic language skills. In addition, ESL teachers frequently are cultural ambassadors and even teachers of content areas (math, science, geography, social studies, etc.)
Q: Where do ESL teachers work?
A. ESL teachers work in elementary and secondary schools, community colleges, adult education programs, colleges and universities, private language institutes, and private businesses. These are just some of the possibilities that ESL teachers might have in the United States and abroad.
Q: Is it hard to get a job as an ESL teacher?
A: That all depends on where you want to work. If you are interested in teaching in public schools, there are many opportunities. In private language institutes in the United States, there will probably be fewer jobs. If one wishes to teach abroad, there are plentiful opportunities in various parts of Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.
Q: I don't know another language. Can I still teach ESL?
A: Yes. One need not be like a native speaker of another language in order to be a successful ESL teacher. However, the more you know, the more able you will be able to communicate with students and their parents. Likewise, you will have more insight into the various cultures from which they hail. Finally, learning a second language gives you much credibility in the eyes of your students because they know that you understand how they feel.
Q: I'm interested in teaching ESL. Do you offer an ESL program at WKU?
A: Yes. We have a 16-hour program leading to an ESL endorsement at WKU. This endorsement allows one to teach ESL in Kentucky public schools. Coursework leading to the endorsement differs for undergraduate and graduate students. More information is found below.
Q: I'm interested. How do I apply?
A: Undergraduate students in good standing should contact Dr. Poole for advising. Graduate students should contact the Graduate College to learn more about entrance requirements.
Q: I'd like to apply; however, I work all day and live two hours away from Bowling Green. Is there anything I can do?
A: Fortunately, our classes are offered either on-line or in the evening. This makes it convenient for those who, for one reason or another, are not able to physically regularly attend daytime classes.
Q: I don't want to teach ESL, but I would like to take some coursework. Can I sign up for a class?
A: If you have been admitted to the university, yes, you may enroll in coursework. In fact, many people who deal with non-native speakers of English can benefit by knowing more about such an already large and growing segment of the American population. Additionally, those who are current or aspiring foreign language teachers find our courses beneficial.
Q: If I'm not planning to teach in public school, do I still need to obtain a state teaching certificate?
No, those students not wishing to teach in public schools do not need a state teaching certificate. Such students generally teach in intensive English programs, community colleges, and institutions abroad. WKU offers a Graduate Certificate in TESOL for students interested in these options. See below for more information.
Q: I still have more questions. Whom should I contact?
Or you can look into our undergraduate TESL Minor.
Graduate Program requirements for those seeking the ESL Endorsement for Kentucky public schools
- These courses:
- Six semester hours of a modern (foreign) language (or its equivalent), at the undergraduate level
- Certification in elementary, middle grades, or secondary education
- ESL Praxis exam score of 157 (effective Sept. 1, 2010) for those wishing to teach in the state of Kentucky
Graduate Certificate in TESOL
- Six semester hours of a modern (foreign) language (or its equivalent), at the undergraduate level.
Alex Poole, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, Associate Professor of English, TESL Program Director
Area of Specialization: TESL
Elizabeth Winkler, Ph.D., Indiana University, Associate Professor of English
Area of Specialization: Linguistics
Alison Youngblood, Ph.D., University of Central Florida, Assistant Professor
Area of Specialization: TESOL
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