Teaching ESL can be a fun way to travel the world. I was fortunate enough to spend a year in Japan doing just that! It gave me the opportunity to travel and see things I probably never would have otherwise.
ESL teachers can also be instrumental in helping young children learn a new or second language and assist adults who have moved to an English speaking country and want to advance their skills.
ESL teachers can work in almost any country overseas or they can stay states bound and tutor, teach online or mentor and teach in business and school settings.
Teaching ESL gives you the opportunity to interact with people of a different culture or cultures and can be an extremely rewarding career. You will find a full sample resume at the bottom of this article.
Resume objective for ESL teacher
An ESL teacher may have several objectives in mind when applying for a position. The field for this career is extremely wide. Your resume objective will heavily rely on what body of students you seek to teach.
An ESL teacher may be someone who has a love for children or someone who loves languages and grammar, or they could be someone who would like to try living in a new country.
Or maybe you are all three! You will need to take a look at the specific job you are applying for to make sure your objectives meet what they are offering.
A passionate lover of languages with a TEFL and TESOL certification seeks a job overseas where they can share their love of the English language with children and adults.
Resume skills for ESL teacher
An ESL teacher requires many of the same skills as any other teacher. These will be patience, listening skills, organization, empathy, and creativity.
Skills for an ESL position will also include things such as cultural awareness, flexibility, and an interest in connecting with the cultural community they are teaching.
Some ESL teaching positions within school districts may wish for you to speak Spanish, or the language that the majority of their ESL learners speak but for the majority of other positions this is typically not a requirement.
Even if you are teaching English in the United States the population you are teaching will come from another culture, even if they live here now.
Taking the time to learn some things about their culture and country will help you build a stronger connection which will be important since you won’t necessarily have a common language to speak in.
Making that bond with your students creates trust. Both children and adults may feel vulnerable in an ESL sitting because they know it is an area of weakness. They may be embarrassed to make mistakes.
You should plan to use visuals, speak slowly and clearly and smile. A lot.
English Writing & Grammar | Intrapersonal Communication Skills | Lesson Implementation | Organized & Detailed Oriented | Ability to Work with Different Cultures.
ESL teacher work experience
Many online and overseas ESL positions do not require you to have prior ESL experience or even teaching experience. In fact, their program is usually aimed at teaching you their method.
What they will want to see is that you have some experience with children or mentoring or coaching adults in one way or another, even if it is volunteer work.
Most ESL jobs in the United States that are part of the school system will require you to have a degree in teaching, specifically with ESL certifications or degrees.
Sample Work Experience
Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, MD
Basic ESL Skills Instructor, 2018-2020
Worked with adults from diverse backgrounds to teach introductory literacy and English. Worked with students at various levels within the same classroom encouraging student and peer mentor relationships among the class.
- Knowledge of multi-tiered curriculum to teach different levels
- Fostering independence in students
- Experience with diverse backgrounds
- Interpersonal relationships
- Developed visual aids to help students
ESL teacher education
The education required for this job will depend on where you’d like to teach. The minimum requirement to teach in most countries is a bachelor’s degree, however it does not need to be in education.
If you do not have a college degree the top countries to teach in include Cambodia, Costa Rica, Spain, Argentia, Mexico and Russia.
Most places will want you to have some knowledge of TEFL or TESOL and some knowledge of education, but again, when teaching in foreign countries it is not always required as they are willing to train.
Once you have a firm grasp on where you’d like to be an ESL teacher you will have a better understanding of the education requirements for each level and location of teaching.
- Minor in American Literature
Courses that will support your bid to become an ESL teacher will be those related to education, psychology, English, literacy, communications, and business.
Business is in there because many ESL companies and schools are in fact for-profit businesses and they may wish you to play a part in making or garnering sales.
This is not always the case, but having a background in customer service could certainly help.
- Introduction to English Grammar
- Interpersonal Communication
- Speech Communication
- Creative Writing I & II
The ESL world is all about certifications. There is the TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, and combined versions of all of those!
Most of these certifications can be earned online, but make sure it is a respected and accredited version. If the price seems too good to be true, double check their accreditation. That being said, many online certification programs offer discounts and packaged deals.
Some colleges also offer these certifications as part of their programs or as elective courses.
Depending on what state you lived and what level you are teaching you may also need a state teaching license.
- Business ESL Certification
Complete ESL Teacher resume sample
Now that we have covered the steps you want to take when creating a top-notch resume we are going to take a look at an actual job posting for an ESL instructor position. This particular position is through a business organization.
When you look at this job posting you will see that a bachelor’s degree is required but they do not have anything specific about an ESL certification.
However, if you wish to teach ESL your degree should be in that field or you will need to seek certification first or apply for a company that will train you and/or certify you.
You will also notice they are seeking someone with at least 1 year of classroom experience. This is the type of job requirement a position such as this might be willing to bend on, for example if you have taught ESL classes on an online platform or overseas in a small group class structure.
Many ESL schools provide you with pre-fabricated lesson plans. You will see in this job posting that you will be required to create your own.
That is an aspect you will want to pay attention to, especially if you have a preference one way or the other.
ESL Teacher with documented experience helping adults and teens learn English. Proficient at ESL lesson planning and tracking student achievement. Experience and ability to work with various cultures and students are various levels of English proficiency.
Classroom Management | Cultural diversity | Student Assessments | Patient & Active Listener | Able to provide Constructive Feedback | Proficient with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint
International TEFL Academy
English Instructor, 2008 – 2020
I taught native Italians English in a small group and classroom settings. I worked with children aged 10 through adult and provided lessons at various levels and skill sets. I guided students towards higher levels of English proficiency and performed assessments.
- Ability to work with multiple skill levels
- Skilled working with children and adults
- Provided guidance and constructive criticism
- Followed student interests when planning lessons
- Skilled at teaching conversational and business English
Nova Group of Japan
English Instructor, 2003-2007
Taught small group lessons, one-on-one and conversation classes while living in Kitakyushu, Japan. I was responsible for teaching lessons and assessing students on their progress. I led conversation classes on a variety of topics from business to entertainment for all learning levels.
- Ability to teach beginner to advanced students
- Offer support and guidance, especially at the beginner level
- Followed Student interests in conversation classes
- Planned and led literacy games in the conversation class
- Recommended students for level up assessments when ready
Engoo Online English School
Online English Tutor, 2000 -2003
I worked with students all over the world in online sessions to help them with their English. I tutored individuals in conversation skills, business English, Grammar, Travel and Culture and Pronunciation.
- Helped beginner students move from Level 1 to Level 5
- Provided positive feedback and assessments
- Tailored lessons to each students needs and interests
- TEFL Certification
- Business English Certification
Bachelor of Arts, Communication, 1999-2003
- Media, Culture and Society
- Specialized Writing & Reporting
- Foreign Correspondence
- How English Works
- Basic English Grammar
Positions in ESL teaching are extremely varied. You could start in this career right out the gate by obtaining a bachelor degree in ESL Teaching, or you may find yourself taking a more roundabout way.
ESL teachers can study and work right in their home towns or they can travel the world. It is a career that offers many possibilities.
- A bachelor degree is required for this field
- The ability to work with and understand other cultures is a must
- The ability to multi-task and teach at various levels is important
Tips from Experts
“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill.” – Stephen Krashen, Linguist, Researcher, Professor
“A different language is a different vision of life.” – Federico Fellini, Italian Film Director
An ESL teacher is a job description that could go many different ways. You may be working with adults or children or teens. You may have opportunities to travel the world or you may teach right in your own neighborhood.
It’s possible you will head to college and earn a degree in ESL teaching and jump right into the career or you may stumble your way into it.
No matter what path you take, teaching ESL at any level can be a rewarding experience and a lifelong career.