English as a Second Language
Though the acronyms are sometimes used interchangeably in the education field, ESL (sometimes also called “ESOL”) and ELL are two distinctly different programs for English language learners.
As discussed in Classroom Instruction that Works for English Language Learners, (ACSD 2006), authors Jane Hill and Kathleen Flynn explain that ESOL is used for traditionally specialized programs, helmed by teachers with explicit training, in a program supported (usually, though there are exceptions) by federal funding.
ELL stands for “English Language Learner;” the term applies to English language learners mainstreamed in general education classrooms, not separated for individualized ESL support or lessons commonly found in the traditional model.
ESOL stands for “English As A Second Language,” and generally the approach includes teaching ESOL students proficiency in English prior to embarking on a program of academic learning.
Schools, as part of No Child Left Behind policy, must report yearly progress for ELL in English language proficiency, reading, and math. According to the U.S. Department of Education, during the academic year 2003-2004, some 5.5 million students had limited English proficient (LEP). The rapid (and continued) growth in the ELL student population in the U.S. has increased the demand for qualified instructors, and is considered one of the best choices for educators looking for increased job security and options. It’s not a career choice to be made without some consideration -- an ESOL educator must be bilingual, able to master academic content and instruct in a second language.
If you are interested in teaching English to non-native speaking students in the U.S., you’ll need to meet both national and state certification requirements. If you want to teach outside the US, you may also need to provide proper identification and proof of your right to work in that country.
One of the first requirements for your ESL certification is an undergraduate degree. While most students who English as a Second Language have a bachelor’s in English, an undergraduate degree in almost any subject is accepted, if the candidate passes subject matter exams. While ESL guidelines may vary from state to state, most states master of education degree curriculum will require you to take coursework in linguistics and semantics.
An education degree can be earned via online - teaching degrees have never been more accessible, and teacher training is usually seamlessly integrated into both ESL and ELL degree programs.