You’ve seen the acronym advertising ESL Jobs, and you’ve done a bit of research. For the curious ESL stands for English as a Second Language. For the Brits, it’s known as TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. But what will you get out of an ESL job? The simple answer is a lot, but here are the skills that you can develop or use in an ESL career.
1. Public Speaking
Infamously public speaking is a common fear. The thought of standing up in front of a group of strangers can be a terrifying experience. New ESL teachers also find this a test of nerve. But over time, the ESL teacher overcomes this fear. Standing up in front of a group of eager eyes becomes a doddle. Hard to believe, but true.
2. Communication Skills
Listed time and time again on job descriptions. The applicant must have excellent communication skills. But what does that even mean? The term “communication skills” could be open to interpretation and difficult to prove that you have. But as an ESL teacher, this is a core skill. Imagine setting a task, or giving instructions to classes from 5 to 25, and there’s a catch. English isn’t their first language. Sound difficult? It is at first, but in time the ESL teacher becomes a master at setting tasks, getting results with minimum speech and body language.
3. Sales skills
Good sales people are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and passionate. S/he introduces the product and shows the benefits, and how this can solve a problem you already have. They tailor the product to your needs and at the end of the sales pitch, you’re sold, you want the product! Who was your favourite teacher at school? They were knowledgeable, passionate and at the end of the class you wanted to learn more. The similarities are close. A good teacher helps the student use the language (the product). The teacher’s enthusiasm also makes the student more enthusiastic about the language. After class, these students want to learn more by themselves. This is when the real learning starts.
4. Time Management
ESL schedules can be hectic, especially during summer courses and peak months. Teaching English is enjoyable, and even more so when you get into the rhythm of managing a schedule and planning classes. Time management in class is also a skill that teachers develop. ESL teachers learn to focus on what’s important to the learner, moving through the teaching material to meet their needs.
5. Problem Solving
Imagine, you’ve planned a class, you know the students and everything is going to be great. During the class, no one’s getting it. The enthusiastic students are tired and everyone’s getting restless. As the teacher, everyone looks to you and you need to rescue the class. Like a good comedian answers hecklers, like a boxer comes back off of the ropes. You develop an instinct in the class- you think fast and try new things. If that doesn’t work, you keep your cool and find something that works. This is a skill seen time and time again in the classroom, and this cool under pressure and quick thinking remain invaluable.
There you have it, some of the core skills of an ESL teacher. But there are many more skills you can develop which is why ESL is a great career to move into, even if its only for a year or two.
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