You may have heard of teaching English as a second language (ESL) from friends, the media, or even a recruitment organization. ESL teachers enjoy a prosperous job as highly regarded professionals across the world. But is being an ESL teacher a good career?
ESL teachers have rewarding careers. A recent survey found that 9 out of 10 teachers feel satisfied with their jobs. Most ESL teachers benefit from traditional perks such as vacation time and have access to a high-demand field, unique opportunities to travel, and generous compensation plans.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the unique aspects of teaching ESL as a career.
Is Teaching ESL a Good Career?
Teaching, in general, is often described as a satisfying career. Most teachers find joy in connecting with their students and helping them learn, achieve, and grow.
ESL teachers are no different, except that they teach English to non-native speakers. As such, there are some factors in their career that make it even more fulfilling.
Also see: Why is Scaffolding Important in ESL?
Benefits of Being an ESL Teacher
ESL teachers experience both traditional and unique benefits during their careers. These benefits include flexibility to teach students of all ages, vacation time, fair compensation, and a high-demand field where work is always needed.
Let’s examine each benefit a little closer.
ESL Teachers Can Teach a Wide Range of Ages
Whether you prefer working with adults or kids, this career will give you flexibility within that preference.
As English continues to spread across the globe and maintain prominence, the age for learning English varies. The students can be as young as three years old or kindergarten age. However, they can also be well into their adult years as more business-oriented people focus on developing their English skills.
ESL teachers get great vacation time and compensation
Traditional teachers have vacation time when school is out of session, such as during holiday breaks and summers in America. Most ESL teachers have a similar luxury.
If the ESL teacher teaches in a brick-and-mortar school abroad, then when that school is closed for holidays, the teacher will typically have that time off to enjoy for themselves. The same goes for ESL teachers who work online.
The only exception would be for ESL teachers who primarily work with adults. The companies that hire ESL teachers to help adults grow their English skills usually work year-long, with less holiday time than teachers who work with children in a school setting
Monetary compensation for ESL teachers is an average of $46,000 per year. That amount will vary depending on experience, which company you choose, and if you work remotely or travel abroad. If you travel abroad, the pay may be lower, but the expenses, such as an apartment, water, and sometimes food, are often covered.
There is a High Demand for ESL Teachers
ESL teachers, like traditional teachers, are an in-demand profession. In fact, ESL teachers are in demand worldwide.
Some countries at the top of the English teacher market are China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Most of these demands are met through in-person or online studies.
- China: Although only 1% of Chinese citizens currently speak English, that number is growing. China has 300 million people learning English as a second language right now.
- South Korea: 43% of South Korea’s population is proficient in English. That number is growing by each year and with it the demand for English as a second language teachers.
- Japan: 30% of Japanese citizens speak English. However, many Japanese companies are looking for TOEIC proficiencies on resumes as a hiring determination. TOEIC is the Test of English for International Communication. Since this has become a recent expectation, many young adults and adults are seeking English teachers.
- Vietnam: Over 53% of Vietnam’s population speaks English. This dedication to learning English as a second language means that many young children are raised to learn it at an early age. Vietnam is an excellent place for ESL teachers to both travel abroad or teach remotely. They are always in need of educators.
- Taiwan: Taiwan is currently in the process of making English its official second language. Over 50% of the population speaks it, including young people and businessmen who need to know the language for their careers. As Taiwan moves towards making English an official second language, they continue to teach it to their youth. Job positions are being created every year for ESL teachers in Taiwan.
ESL Teachers Can Work Remotely or Travel
Whether you have dreams of working remotely or traveling to a foreign country to teach ESL, you have many options with this exciting career.
One of the most enticing aspects to new ESL teachers is traveling abroad and teaching overseas. Although this is an exciting option, there are some pros and cons to living overseas as you teach English.
Pros of teaching English in a foreign country:
- You can travel for free. Most companies that send you overseas to teach ESL will pay for the airfare, apartment, and, of course, provide you monetary compensation. This career path lets you explore foreign countries and immerse yourself in a new culture for little cost to you.
- You can learn a new language. Although this may seem counterintuitive, you do not need to be proficient in the learners’ language to teach English as a second language. While teaching English, you’ll be able to learn the language of the country you teach in through immersion and your studies.
- You will make a decent living. The compensation for ESL teachers is an average of $46,000 a year.
Cons of teaching English in a foreign country:
- You may miss your home country. If you get homesick, you will still have to finish your contract for the ESL teaching job.
- You could experience culture shock. Although new cultures can be fun and exciting, you can experience some negative side-affects after being fully immersed. After all, if you aren’t fluent in the language of the country you’re teaching in, you will experience a language barrier. Additionally, their way of life and customs will likely be entirely different than your own.
- You could get lonely. Being away from friends and family for an extended time is hard even when you’re not in a foreign country. If you don’t try to make friends and go out, you could get lonely.
If traveling abroad seems a little too intense for you, you can still have a fulfilling career as an ESL teacher by teaching English online.
As computers and technology grow more advanced, we’re able to connect with others more easily; this includes the education field. There are many companies dedicated to providing an enriching, educational experience for their English learners online.
Let’s take a look at the leading companies by country:
These are only a few of the companies that hire ESL teachers for remote positions. There are many more, and each company has a different structure, so be sure to visit their recruitment websites for more information.
Teaching ESL is a fulfilling, rewarding career with many options and exciting opportunities. You can teach English online or travel abroad, and the compensation is high for this in-demand skill. Whatever you choose, there’s no doubt that ESL teachers have unique careers with many benefits.