What are the Duties
of an ESL Teacher?

The duties of an ESL teacher vary depending upon the setting where the students are taught and the type of learners being taught.

Teachers of English as a Second Language (or teachers of speakers of other languages—ESOL) can work in many different settings.

Such settings include private language schools, non-profit organizations, K-12 schools, adult schools, community colleges, universities, private companies, private tutoring, and other settings.

Of course, an ESL teacher will, by definition, be teaching in a country where the primary language is English. This is as opposed to EFL teachers who work in countries where the primary language is something other than English.

Basic Duties of an ESL Teacher

No matter what the setting is, the main duty of an ESL teacher is, essentially, to prepare lesson plans and to teach English Language Learners. This includes teaching English grammar, writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills. It may also include teaching pronunciation and accent reduction.

It's basically teaching all the English language skills that will enable speakers of other languages to effectively communicate in English.

Additionally, ESL teacher responsibilities often include introducing cultural aspects to ESL students, especially to those who are new to the English-speaking country.

Working at Private Language Schools

In addition to the basic teaching duties, ESL instructors working in private language schools will have to take attendance and provide evaluations of student progress. Attendance records are particularly important because of student Visa requirements. (Students who are temporarily in English-speaking countries to study English will often be required to have a student Visa.)

English teachers may have other administrative tasks as requested or required by school administrators. They may also have to attend weekly staff meetings. Duties will vary depending on the particular private school's expectations.

ESL Teacher Duties at Non-Profit Organizations

Some non-profit organizations have ESL programs. The purposes of the programs are often related to vocational training and/or job preparation.

In these settings, the duties of an ESL teacher may include developing curriculum to advance the goals of the organization. For example, a non-profit organization may provide training for child care givers, or it may provide computer training.

The teacher's job will be to insure that the students are taught English for a specific purpose as defined by the non-profit organization.

Public Schools—K-12 and Adult Schools

Public schools may include K-12 and adult schools. In addition to the basic duties of ESL teachers (preparing and delivering lessons), teachers may also be requested to participate in departmental staff meetings. The teacher must also keep attendance records, as the funding of the school usually depends on it.

Public schools generally have a particular curriculum that the teacher must follow. Lesson plans that the teacher can use may already be developed, or he or she may be given leeway to develop his/her own lessons. However, public schools often require students to take standardized tests during and at the end of a semester. The students must show sufficient progress or it may reflect back on the teacher, and possibly affect the funding of the school.

Community Colleges and Universities

These are generally the most sought after ESL jobs. In addition to the basic duties of an ESL teacher, the community college or university instructor may be required to participate in departmental meetings, student advising, and other duties.

The duties included in community college and university ESL jobs are similar to those of K-12 and adult schools. It's the type of students that will be the biggest difference (and the pay!).

Private Companies

Private companies sometimes provide English classes for their non-English speaking staff. The main purpose of such classes is usually to prepare workers to better perform their job responsibilities.

Duties of an ESL teacher working for a private company (usually as an independent contractor) often include developing the curriculum to meet the company's objectives, as well as preparing lesson plans and delivering the lessons.

Private Tutors of ESOL Students

Private tutors often work with small groups of students or teach one-on-one. Here, it will be the responsibility of the teacher/tutor to do a Needs Assessment of the student(s) to determine student strengths and weaknesses. The tutor will also find out from the student(s) the main objectives that he, she or they may have in studying English.

The tutor then prepares lesson plans to meet specific student needs and delivers the lessons. The tutor may also act as a resource for the student(s), giving information to help the student(s) survive and thrive in the community.

Related Articles

Description of an ESL Teacher  What are the characteristics of a good ESL tutor or teacher?

How to Start Teaching ESL  Do you want to start teaching ESL? Here are some ideas to get you started.

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