Do I Need To Speak Foreign Languages To Become An ESL Teacher?

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Become an ESL Teacher

If you’re a budding ESL teacher who wants to see the world while working, how do you settle on a specific country and language? The good news is you don’t need to. In fact, the single most important aspect of your job as an ESL teacher is simply your English skills. Leading a classroom where you only communicate in English is a great way to immerse your students in the language and facilitate some serious learning. While it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the program you work with, learning the local language is often not as important as having the appropriate qualifications and maintaining a positive attitude.


Your English language skills are all you need to create an excellent learning environment for your students. When surrounded by only the English language, your students will have a much easier time picking up on words and phrases, and even thinking in their new language. Whether teaching beginners or more advanced pupils, it’s clear that immersion aids students tremendously. You don’t have to worry about learning another language yourself when your entire lessons can and will be conducted in English.

Culture Shock

Moving to a new country can be as challenging as it is exciting. While you can always find expat and bilingual friends, it pays to have at least a basic understanding of the local language. This is especially true if you plan to travel somewhere rural, where your English skills may be a rarity. Ultimately, learning a second language in order to teach ESL is a personal choice. With local language skills, you’ll have a much easier time navigating the daily tasks of life, like finding an apartment, going to the doctor, and even heading to the grocery store. After all, a relaxed teacher is an effective teacher.

Your Specific Program

It’s difficult to speak broadly about ESL teaching opportunities across the globe, as every program is different. Plenty of programs provide all the help you need to get settled and communicate with your coworkers, especially in countries with particularly challenging language barriers like China and Korea. Depending on how long it takes to achieve basic fluency, you may even get away with learning from your coworkers instead of studying in your home country. With that in mind, you can obtain a great idea of what’s expected of you by browsing online forums and speaking to former employees. Not all experiences will apply to your situation, but it definitely helps to do some research before deciding to sink hundreds of hours into foreign language studies.

All in all, it’s clear that your most important job as an ESL teacher is your ability to fluently speak English. With that in mind, you’ll surely benefit from learning the local language despite it not being absolutely necessary. Plenty of programs provide tons of assistance to new ESL teachers, so you don’t have to worry about studying a foreign language for years before beginning your career.

Related resource:

Top 10 Cheap Online Master’s of English Language Learning Degree Programs

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