What should ESL teachers consider when looking for work?

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A career in ESL teaching is a rewarding experience, and it is one of the few professional occupations which give you the opportunity to literally travel around the world.

If you are content to spend your career working as a classroom teacher, you should carefully consider what ESL level you would like to teach: it may be that teaching at the A1 or A2 level of the CEFR is not intellectually rewarding; alternatively, you may love teaching young children – in which case teaching at anything beyond the B1 level would not be particularly interesting for you.

Although you may have decided to remain in the role of a classroom teacher, you should also consider how your career can be bettered by a little bit of promotion: ESL heads of departments still have to teach ESL classes. By becoming a head of the department, you will be able to influence how things (within your remit) are done, and it will be a pleasant recognition of your professionalism and ability. If you wish to remain in the school environment but are not keen on teaching for the whole of your career, you should consider working towards becoming an ESL director of studies, a deputy principal, or a principal.

These posts entail little, if any, actual teaching. Undoubtedly, there will be those ESL teachers who no longer wish either to teach in a classroom or to remain in the school environment but wish to continue working in the field of ESL. For these teachers, there are several careers that should be considered. They could work in any one of the following related ESL careers: professional blogging, online teaching, professional writing, teacher training, lecturing/research, and private teaching.

Which ESL career you ultimately decide to follow may depend on what sort of person you are. If you are very friendly and sociable, classroom teaching or teacher training may be most appropriate; if you like to be in charge and like the challenge of leadership, a principal’s post may be appealing; if you are studious and introverted, working as a blogger or an author would seem best; finally, if you are academically talented, a lectureship or research would be most fulfilling. Irrespective of which career path you follow, you will have to complete several years of classroom teaching first: then you will be free to follow the career of your choice. Nevertheless, you should always take your personality, and academic strengths and weaknesses into consideration before choosing a particular ESL-related career.

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