Landing an ESL Job
Many people who set out to teach English abroad, or even in the U.S., believe that simply knowing English is qualification enough to be an ESL teacher.
TEFL Certificates - To Have or Not to Have
The most common certification that ESL teachers are asked to have is a TEFL certificate. These are certificates that can be earned by taking an intensive, approximately four-week-long course at a cost of around $1,000 or more. The courses, ranging in quality and accreditation (Cambridge Trinity being the most widely accepted and therefore more costly) are given in the U.S., but many teachers opt to take them abroad in the city they wish to teach in, which allows them to get a good taste of the culture and become familiar with the people and the region before they begin to teach.
TEFL certificates are not always essential to secure a TESL job, however - although the larger and more populated with English native speakers a city is, the harder it might be to find a well-paying, well-structured teaching position. Basically, what the school or language agency or corporation is looking for is a good teacher of English. And if they see that you have some experience in teaching (not even necessarily English) and have a friendly, outgoing personality, you have a good chance of getting the work. Some may not even require teaching experience, but will interview you and examine your background and work experience for your potential as a teacher of English. This can be extremely important when interviewing for a position teaching young children, where patience and a caring touch is more important than your knowledge of past participles or prepositions.
Sometimes, as part of an interview, you will be asked to give a sample lesson, anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes like an actual class would be. You may be allowed to run through your full lesson, or you may be interrupted at anytime, so prepare enough for the entire length.
A college degree is usually a requirement (especially with public schools), but then again, this is not always the case, especially with private language agencies. If you have some college experience or are in the midst of taking classes toward your undergraduate degree, then it is up to you to prove yourself to your employer through your enthusiasm, your professionalism, and even through your students' feedback.
U.S. ESL Teacher Requirements
To teach ESL in the U.S., the requirements are usually stricter, dictated by the education board of the state and district within which you apply to teach. You will need to have a bachelor's degree in education or applied linguistics, or may even need to have a master's degree in TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages), even if the job is entry level. Teaching experience, at the grade level of the position you are applying for, will also be highly desirable, if not required.
In some cases, you might be teaching in a bilingual school, and in the U.S., the other language will likely be Spanish, as it is the second most spoken language in the country.
For this kind of work, you will be required to have an intermediate or higher level of Spanish, since you might be interacting with the students in Spanish. Also a degree or certification in bilingual education and/or teaching might be required or preferred by the employer.
Your interview may be similar to the process mentioned in the section above, and might involve teaching an actual class of students.