What does an ESL teacher do?

posted Feb 16, 2014, 2:45 PM by Omar Longus   [ updated Feb 16, 2014, 2:46 PM ]
Many of you work with or as ESL teachers, and all of you are training to get more expertise in working with ELLs. Thus, it is important for everyone to understand what an ESL teacher does. An ESL teacher helps non-native speakers of English develop social and academic language skills across the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. ESL teachers often take on the responsibility of helping students acculturate and acclimate to their new lives in the United States.

ESL teachers work in a variety of roles and settings. Some push into classes and work with ELLs in one-on-one, small group, or whole class settings. Others pull out students and work with ELLs separate from the rest of the classes. Some ESL teachers have their own classrooms, in which they teach a class dedicated to helping students learn English. Others co-teach with content area teachers and work to make sure that all students - but especially ELLs - receive appropriate English language development. Finally, other ESL teachers teach content area classes that include or are entirely comprised of ELLs and differentiate lessons to ensure that all students understand the content and gain appropriate language development. In bilingual or dual language programs, a teacher may be responsible for teaching content in multiple languages or helping students develop their language skills in another language in addition to English.

While an ESL teacher does not need to know another language, having that background can help teachers better communicate with students and parents. They can gain validity in the eyes of those students and parents as someone who has successfully learned a new language and knows what it takes. However, regardless of whether a teacher speaks another language, it's important for every ESL teacher to learn more about the home culture and traditions of their students in order to better relate to them and understand the right approaches to use in effectively instruction them.