English as a Second Language (ESL) and adult basic and secondary education teachers work with students to teach them fundamental skills. They focus on speaking English, writing and reading. These teachers can help adult students earn the equivalent credential for their high school diploma.
Some of the main skills that ESL and adult basic and secondary education teachers work on include:
- Assess their students for any learning disabilities.
- Teach and plan lessons to help students gain the skills and knowledge required to obtain their high school credential equivalency.
- Monitor the progress of their students.
- Emphasize job-seeking skills that will help students earn an income, including learning typical workplace phrases and the English language.
- Teach students how to develop healthy study habits
- Bridge connections with students to additional community resources including job placements.
- Learn about the weaknesses and strengths of each student and adapt teaching methods accordingly.
Prior to entering these programs, students' skills and educational levels are assessed. Teachers or staff members are responsible for these student assessments. The results from the assessment are considered along with the goals of the student and then teachers can create an education plan.
Teachers need to formally evaluate each student every once in a while, to determine how they are progressing. They will determine if the student is comprehending the material and is ready to pursue higher class levels.
Teachers continually monitor their students' progress informally. ESL and adult basic and secondary education teachers typically have numerous students of varying levels of ability in the same class.
Teachers need to discern a host of strategies to help meet their student's needs. They may work with the student individually or work with groups in the class depending on the situation.
There are 3 kinds of education that ESL teachers, secondary and adult basic education offer:
ESL or English as a Second Language
English as a Second Language (ESL), also called English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), classes teach students to read, write, and speak English. Students in these classes are immigrants to the United States or those whose native language is not English.
ESL teachers may have students from many different countries and cultures in their classrooms. Because the ESL teacher and the students may not share a common native language, ESL teachers must be creative with their communication in the classroom.
Another focus for ESL teachers is helping students establish a proficient vocabulary for daily life and work atmospheres. They may also concentrate on helping their students prepare for a citizenship exam.
ABE or Adult Basic Education
ABE or Adult basic education courses offer students the basics of math, writing and reading. Students are typically age 16 or older. They are seeking to gain proficiency in these skills to improve their job prospects. The teachers help them develop the vital skills they require for being successful in the workplace. Helping them write a resume is a common undertaking.
Adult Secondary Education
Students learn how to prepare for taking the test that is required to earn their credentials for high school equivalency. Adult secondary education teachers work with students on various levels.
Certain programs may be combined with additional career prep programs to enable students to earn a career-related credential and their high school equivalency simultaneously.
There are 4 subjects on the high school equivalency exam. These are social studies, science, math and language arts. Along with teaching those subjects, teachers additionally help their students develop their critical thinking and communication skills and problem-solving abilities. These skills are required to help them continue their education and enjoy prosperous careers.
Preparation to Become an ESL or Adult Basic or Secondary Teacher
The majority of ESL and adult basic and secondary education teachers who work in public schools typically require a certification or license along with a bachelor's degree.
ESL and Adult basic and secondary education teachers who work within the public school system generally need a bachelor's degree. Certain community colleges prefer to hire teachers with graduate coursework or a master's degree in ESL or English as a Second Language.
Adult Secondary Education programs prepare prospective teachers to utilize known strategies for adult learners. They work with many students from different backgrounds and cultures and also teach adults who have learning disabilities. Certain programs allow these teachers to specialize in ESL or adult basic education or adult secondary education.
Teachers who wish to specialize in ESL can take classes or training in theories of how people comprehend secondary languages and linguistics training. Having a second language is not required to be an ESL teacher; however, it can be extremely useful.
Teacher Education Programs
There are teacher education programs that focus on instructing future teachers on how to deliver information to students and how to work with people of various backgrounds and abilities. Typically, programs include opportunities for student teachers to work alongside a mentor and gain classroom experience. Check out Teach.org to gather more information about different teacher preparation programs.
Prospective teachers may wish to improve their teaching abilities by enlisting in different professional development classes. This can help them keep up with research regarding how to teach adults and communicate effectively.
Registrations, Licenses & Certifications
ESL, adult basic and secondary teachers working in the public school system are required to have a teaching certificate. Certain states offer certificates that are especially for adult education. Other states require that teachers have a certificate in secondary or elementary education.
Generally, ESL, adult basic and secondary education teachers require a bachelor's degree to obtain a license. They also need to finish a student-teaching program to be eligible. If you need more information, contact your state’s director of adult education. You can obtain contact information via the U.S. Department of Education.
It can be difficult to work with students of various backgrounds and abilities. Teachers must be calm and understanding with students that have a hard time understanding the content.
All teachers need to be able to effectively communicate with their students, program administrators and other teachers. Additionally, they need to explain concepts in terms that students can comprehend.
Teachers need to be resourceful and think on their feet. It is important to keep finding new ways to keep students engaged in their studies. They may have to change different instruction methods to address a variety of student needs.
Teachers will be working with a variety of students with many different educational, cultural and economic backgrounds. They need to be respectful, compassionate and understanding of their questions and concerns.
Adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers held about 48,300 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers were as follows:
- Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private - 31%
- Junior colleges; state, local, and private - 26%
- Other schools and instruction; state, local, and private - 9%
- Self-employed workers - 8%
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private - 6%
Students in adult education and ESL programs attend classes by choice. As a result, they are often highly motivated, which may make teaching them rewarding and satisfying.
These teachers often work in the mornings and evenings, because classes are held at times when students are not at work. Part-time work is common.
Employment of adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers is projected to decline 5 percent from 2020 to 2030.
Despite declining employment, about 5,100 openings for adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Enrollment in adult education and ESL programs has declined in recent years. At the same time, high school graduation rates have increased, reducing the number of adults seeking to obtain high school equivalency credentials. As these trends continue, the demand for adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers may decline.
Changes in government funding for adult education and ESL programs also may impact the demand for these workers.
The median annual wage for adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers was $59,720 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,550.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
- Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private - $62,420
- Junior colleges; state, local, and private - $50,540
- Other schools and instruction; state, local, and private - $50,530
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private - $48,930
Teachers often work in the mornings and evenings, because classes are held at times when students are not at work. Part-time work is common.