The demand to become fluent in English is increasing, both in the United States and overseas. English as a Second Language (ESL) is taught at public and private schools, in private lessons, tutoring courses and universities around the world. As the types of classes and programs for ESL increase, students rely more on the expertise of ESL specialists to help find the right course for them.
Different schools and companies will have specific job descriptions for their own ESL specialist positions. However, most will require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in education and/or applied linguistics (or a similar field). Many will also require a master's degree, or proof of the current pursuit of a master's degree, in these fields as well. Higher ESL specialist positions may require a certain amount of experience in teaching ESL.
Most ESL specialists are required to have some sort of ESL certification. The most common types of ESL certificates, which are internationally recognized and accredited, are Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL or TESL), Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) certification.
ESL specialists are often required to schedule classes and tutoring session times between teachers and students. They may also be responsible for training teachers and/or tutors in instruction techniques specific to the school or program. Because many organizational and administrative tasks are required, these specialists usually need to be familiar with basic word processing and spreadsheet programs.
ESL specialists are typically in charge of choosing and developing material for ESL classes and/or lessons, including textbooks, workbooks, media and any other tools used in the classroom. They will supervise the classroom and should feel comfortable teaching the class themselves. They will also need to monitor all students' progress using whatever form of standardized testing the school or program utilizes.
Because they will be in close contact with staff and students, ESL specialists should be comfortable with collaborating with others and listening and acting as a counselor. An ESL specialist may be working with children or adults, immigrants or those in a foreign country interested in moving to the U.S. or elsewhere. Empathy and an understanding of what it means to be an ESL student is always a plus when applying for this type of position.