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Can anyone provide any feedback about what is required to be a teacher of English as a second language?


Angelina Woodruff Bronx, NY

I would like to know what is required to be a teacher of English as a second language. Specifically the certification requirements and the classroom hours necessary to obtain a certification.

21 December 2018 6 replies Education & Training



Andrea Gnilka Springfield, VA

Hi Angelina,

I taught ESL in South Korea for seven years and it really does depend on which part of the world you're looking to teach in. Asia does not require the CELTA and it is a useless qualification there, but if you're looking to teach in Europe, it is a requirement. Americans are also not permitted in some places in Europe (e.g. Germany) to have a full-time teaching job, which leaves instructors having to cobble together multiple part-time teaching jobs to make ends meet. Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, all require you to have a college degree, but it doesn't have to be in any specific language area or in teaching. A master's degree in education may help you, but the salaries are not generally high enough to warrant a secondary degree. They will conduct a background check on you to determine if you have any criminal history or any warrants for arrest. Otherwise, it is pretty easy to get a teaching job in ESL. The U.S. has these opportunities as well, particularly in parts of the country where most children speak Spanish as a primary language. Please let me know if you have any other questions on this. I have a lot of experience to pull from to help you navigate!




Sam Hoffman Roslyn Heights, NY

Hi Tina,
I think most of the responses here focus on teaching English either overseas, or as an instructor. To teach ENL/ELL/Bilingual in the DOE, you need to complete an approved program (I know Lehman has one).
Your program will fill you in on the details and timeline.
Alternatively you could apply for the NYCTF or Teaching Collaborative. These are fast-track programs, subsidized by the city, and will get you teaching much quicker. The caveat is these programs are VERY competitive.
If you need help with an application, please send me a message.


Rob Pianka Lancaster, PA

Hello Angelina,

Sorry. This is less an answer to your question and more a question about your question...

Regarding your background and your interest in becoming "an educator/teacher of English as a second language":

I once ran an ESL program for Ethiopian refugees/immigrants in Arlington I can imagine a number of reasons why a person might want to go down this path. The hard reality though is that ESL instruction requires super-human patience and generally offers poor financial compensation.

You do become instrumental for very interesting people during a challenging phase of their lives and it would be a good thing for the world if you go down this path... but I cannot help wondering if you might not find some even more worthy career options if you combine your motivation and your background as a "Corpsman specializing in Emergency Aerospace and Aviation Medicine...[with] 24 years of Healthcare experience, 15 years of combined experience in Federal government".

For instance, you might be the Manager hospitals sorely need for their programs that provide interpreters for non-English speaking patients.

Again, sorry this isn't a direct answer to your question...but it is what your question made me think about.




Tim Gaughran Jackson, MS

Hi Angelina,
I’m currently the Program Director of Foreign Languages. But before that I taught ESL in the US and abroad. I would recommend a good solid TEFL program. That is the groundwork for teaching ESL.
Some people go ahead and get a CELTA certificate, but most get it after they have been teaching for awhile. If you want to go overseas look at Oxford Seminars. They are very reputable. Many people who go overseas start teaching ESL and then transition to university or even being the head teacher of a branch of that school.
If you have more specific questions, ask away. My email is



Hi Angelina,

Thank you for your service. Check out resources/info available from the University of Cincinnati at There's no obligation, and based on a close friend's experience with their online coursework, I can recommend this as a reliable source. Good luck and happy holidays!

P.S. I considered this path once, myself. If you spend a day with students in a TESOL course to sample it, you'll know better whether the program is right for you.


Chet Frame El Paso, TX

Good morning, Angelina. Thank you for your service.

There is no one answer to your question other than, it depends. There are requirements for the anyone teaching in public schools in New York regardless of the material. There are other requirements for those teaching in private schools and charter schools. There are other requirements for those teaching in Community Colleges and technical schools. There are, in the case of ESL, store front schools in neighborhoods or in Y's or other social groups that have no requirements for those teaching.

If you go on line to the New York State Department of Education website, you can find the level or type of school you would like to teach for and get the requirements for that particular niche.

Happy Holidays!

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