What will I have to teach my ESL students?
There is a wide variety of TEFL and TESOL courses available worldwide, from online courses to intensive in-class courses. Regardless of the type of certification taken, graduates of these courses will find a huge range of teaching opportunities available to them. Here, we will consider some of the many different teaching situations that you may find yourself in. These range from Kindergarten teaching to teaching English (ESL) courses to university students, and we suggest some of the main roles you will have for each.
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There are no hard and fast rules for what constitutes a young learner; however, we will suggest this would be any ESL learner between the category of Kindergarten and General English learners, which gives ages 5-11 years of age. There are exam courses for young learners, such as the Cambridge examination system, with names such as Starters, Movers, and Flyers, so you may be involved with the preparation for those. You are also likely to have to cover all the material that students would cover in Kindergarten.
The teaching of Business English is often misunderstood, in that when teaching Business English, over 90% of the English used is the same as general English. Also, as a Business English teacher, you do not have to have any particular knowledge of business. There may be some technical words associated with whatever business people you are teaching, but these are easily added to the general vocabulary. We would suggest that if you are to teach Business English, you request some form of initial time to see what the employees would actually use English for in their daily work.
General English covers both all secondary school-age children (11 years and above) and students studying at private language centers, who may go up to any age. As such, this forms the largest part of the ESL teaching market, and you are most likely to teach in this area at some stage. Students in this area are generally graded into one of five language levels: Starter (or beginner), Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, and Upper-Intermediate. Teaching involves all aspects of English grammar in these five levels.
There is a whole range of professions that need to use the Lingua Franca of English, such as aviation, maritime, medical, law, and others. While it may be beneficial to have some background knowledge of whichever specialism you are teaching, it is not usually considered essential. The specific requirements of each profession will, like Business English (discussed earlier), use mainly general English, and there will be some specific vocabulary required for things like air traffic control and similar targeted English.
Universities in English-speaking countries and many others around the world deliver their curriculum in English. It is often a requirement of these universities that students have a particular level of English usage to be able to enroll in a course. Once at university, non-native English speakers often continue with English classes during their studies in whatever discipline. Teaching this type of English requires you to know about the reading and writing skills required by the college or university.
Kindergartens cater to preschool-age (under 5-years-old) children and form a very large part of the ESL market. Here, you will be working on the foundation of all four skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. You will probably be involved in phonics, where students will learn to recognize and use sounds. There are many different âsystemsâ developed for teaching children of this age, often based around âactive learningâ or learning through play.
In conclusion, the world of ESL teaching is incredibly diverse, offering a wealth of opportunities to suit your preferences and skills. Whether you find yourself teaching young learners, business professionals, university students, or specializing in various fields, each role brings its unique challenges and rewards. As you embark on your ESL teaching journey, remember that your passion, adaptability, and commitment to fostering effective communication will empower your students and leave a lasting impact on their language learning journey. Embrace the diversity of ESL teaching, and you'll find a fulfilling and dynamic career that continuously enriches both your life and the lives of those you teach.
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