5 Ideas for the Next Step in Your ESL Career

5 Ideas for the Next Step in Your ESL Career

Andrei Zakhareuski
by Andrei Zakhareuski 14,774 views |

While many ESL teachers only spend a year on the job before heading back to their home country, many others fall in love with their new career, the lifestyle or the country where they work. After a year of sinking your teeth into grammar and finding your feet in developing your own unique teaching style, it’s time to take your teaching career up a notch. After a successful year in the classroom, teachers will find a vast new array of jobs available to them or in a more senior position with more money.

This article aims to explore some career options on offer to teachers after completing their maiden year in the classroom.

Here's What Your Next Step Can Be

  1. 1

    Senior Teacher

    Becoming a senior teacher is a great opportunity to take your career to the next level. While the role of a senior teacher is still predominately classroom-based, it provides an insight into the managerial side and administration behind the scenes. The role of a senior teacher is generally to provide assistance and guidance to first-time teachers by reviewing their lesson plans and offering helpful hints and ideas to make their classes top notch. Senior teachers play a vital role in any language centre, taking the pressure off the Director of Studies or Academic Manager, while becoming a part of the management structure.

  2. 2

    DOS: Be the Boss!

    Not so much a move in a teacher’s second year, but hey, our industry can be highly unpredictable and positions could arise at incredibly short notice. While it may seem like an easy, office-bound job, the Director of Studies does, in fact, have serious job that at times can be stressful. The DOS is usually the middle-man who has the tough roll of dealing with the management and owners, while managing and dealing with the needs and requirements of teachers. The Director of Studies receives the full brunt of management when things aren’t going well, while being responsible for the stressful task of hiring and firing teachers. Any candidate for a Director of Studies must possess the highest knowledge of grammar, keep track of various educational content on the market, as well as cover sick teachers and find replacements at short notice. The Director of Studies is generally given the freedom to run the academic department as they see fit, on the condition that at the end of the day, student numbers still remain strong and the business side of the school still brings in the big bucks for the owners.

  3. 3

    From CELTA to DELTA!

    Okay, so you’ve got a degree and you’ve completed a CELTA (The Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). ESL qualifications don’t just end there – the next step for the super-serious teacher with the highest levels of passion for the technical side of teaching is a DELTA. A DELTA (the Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) is the next level up from CELTA certification, and is generally a three-to-six month, full-time course that educates all about the more gristly points of teaching. A DELTA course has a high-failure rate and takes up a significant amount of your life, therefore it is nothing to be taken lightly. Many teachers who have completed the course often talk about the high workload and incredible amount of effort that it involves. When ESL teachers get together and talk shop, the vast majority would agree that while a DELTA looks impressive on a resume, it is not a useful tool in getting a job. Many say that further expanding one’s tertiary education or obtaining a Master’s Degree would be the best bet at improving one’s work prospects. However, teachers who would benefit most from a DELTA course are those with the intent on climbing the ladder of the British Council or who want a job in management in a prestigious and well-known language centre. But for those who take the live, breath and have dedicated their lives to ESL teaching, a DELTA would provide a thorough insight unlike anything else.

  4. 4

    Experience a new country and culture

    After a year of teaching in one country and experiencing its unique food, culture and way of life, another option for teachers is to pack their suitcase and get on a plane – but not on a flight heading home! To stay fresh in the classroom, a change in surroundings provides a stimulating experience that many use to avoid lapsing deep into a comfort zone. Moving to a new country presents a completely new set of challenges faced when teaching students from a different background, such as their own unique quirks and bad habits that you need to fix with their English skills.

  5. 5

    Change your work environment

    If you’ve done a year in a language centre, a good way to keep your class fresh is to change the setting and the focus of your career. For example, if you taught in a language centre, it may be a worthwhile finding a job at a school or to explore one of the endless choices of niche avenues of ESL teaching. If you enjoy teaching young children, find a job at a kindergarten. If you come from a business background and enjoy teaching adults, it might be worthwhile considering a path in business or corporate language training.

No matter what you do in your second year, it is important to remember the phrase ‘a change is as good as a holiday’. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to keeping your ESL career on the front foot. A change of workplace, environment or culture can create a whole new array of challenges for you in the classroom and give you a rewarding teaching experience that is full of variety and keeps you on your toes. A career in ESL is not just a gap-year activity, but can become a lifelong career that gives you the life that many people could only dream of.

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