So if you’ve been thinking about teaching English online, you’ve probably heard of the term ESL. So, what is ESL? What exactly does an ESL teacher do? Who are ESL teachers teaching?
ESL means English as a Second Language. This refers to learning English in a country where English is predominately spoken or where English is the official language. For example, someone who comes to the US or Canada from another country for an extended time and learns English as a Second Language.
What is the difference between ESL and EFL?
There is a difference between the terms ESL and EFL. What is the difference? EFL means English as a Foreign Language. This term is used for people learning English in a non-English speaking country.
For example, students who are living in China and learning English are considered EFL students since English is not an official language in China. However, if these same students lived in the UK or the US and were learning English they would be considered ESL students because English is the official language in these two countries.
What is the difference between ESL and ESOL?
So what is ESOL and what does it mean? ESOL stands for English of Students of Other Languages. This actually can cover both ESL and EFL students. Why? This term is used because some students learning English may speak more than one language. So ESOL covers students who may be learning English as a third or fourth language.
What does an ESL teacher do?
An ESL teacher teaches English to people who would be considered as EFL, ESL or ESOL students. Typically ESL students are born in a country where English is not widely spoken. ESL students can be children or adults. Their level of English can also vary.
Some ESL students are considered as True Beginners in that they know very little of the language. Other students are called False Beginners because although they may feel they are just beginners, these students may, in fact, know quite a bit of the language. For example, they may be able to introduce themselves in English, count or share some personal details.
As an ESL teacher, you may also be teaching people who can already speak English well. Some students are Intermediate speakers and can carry a conversation talking about their lives or jobs. They can share the activities that they like and dislike.
You may also be teaching someone that is quite fluent in English. Advanced students may make very few errors in their speech and may be looking for more specific training or practice for a specific purpose.
What kind of people do English teachers teach?
As an online English teacher, you have the opportunity to teach many different types of people, from young students to elderly people. However, let’s talk about the most common groups of people learning English today.
Young learners make up a big sector of English learners online. In fact, this is the largest growing area in online English learning. These students can be elementary, middle or high school-aged kids.
The majority of young learners are living in Asia, especially in China. These are countries where parents are investing in their children’s private education. The goal parents have for their children is to give them an upper-hand getting into top-notch schools and to eventually get a high-paying job.
College students or those who have just finished college are another group of online learners. Teaching college students can be especially rewarding because these students may be more motivated, especially if they have plans to study abroad.
College students also may be looking for help especially with exam preparation and academic writing. They also may want to have help with interviews since they will soon be entering the job market and may be looking at working in another country.
This is a global market and often these students work for companies or large enterprises with a global reach. Often these students need English to advance their career or to communicate with co-workers from other countries.
Often business professionals haven’t studied English since college or even high school. These students are often quite busy and may not have time for homework. Business professionals are usually squeezing lessons into their schedule but they can also be motivated because their work success depends on mastering the English language.
Travelers are quite enjoyable to work with because they are motivated to learn English to aid with their travels. They are looking for more practical English as in language to use when booking a hotel or ordering at a restaurant. These students may not be looking for fluency but may have specific objectives in mind that they hope to achieve in their English course.
Now you know the answer to the question: what is ESL? As you can see there’s a lot to learn in the world of ESL!
Often ESL teachers can work with a variety of students which is quite enjoyable. Check out our article on some of the requirements needed to teach English online!
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Do you work as an ESL teacher? What kind of students do you teach or want to teach? Let me know in the comments!
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