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TESOL- An Introduction

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Teaching a second language is not a new phenomenon. Linguists believe that second language acquisition began more than 5000 years ago. Joining this profession will provide more than enough challenges, growth, fun, and fulfillment. Every step of the way in this vocation will provide new challenges. Language education disciplines have just begun to address some of the vexing problems concerning how people can successfully acquire a second/foreign language. The joy of teaching is derived from the vicarious pleasure of observing students' accomplishment of greater horizons of linguistic proficiency and from experiencing the communicative bond that has been instrumental in the creation of a classroom.

Finally, few jobs can provide the satisfaction of knowing that one's labor is making a difference in communications that cross national borders and interests.


TEFL and TESL have historically had different titles in the teaching profession; however, the more generic phrase teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) is increasingly being used to define the profession. As an umbrella term, it encompasses both TESL and TEFL. Both native and non-native English speakers can effectively train to be English language teachers. To teach English as a Second Language to English Language Learners, or ELLs, one must first pass a written and oral English competency test.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the TESOL profession made strides toward achieving desired goals, such as shifting its emphasis from product-oriented to process-oriented teaching, specifically referring to an instructor facilitating a learning environment that allows students to strategize and formulate their ideas, such as activities that use creativity and exploration rather than strictly learning facts from a rigid curriculum to a more flexible one.

What is TESOL, exactly?

Although it may appear to be self-evident, the precise definition of TESOL is frequently jumbled amid a group of other similar acronyms. In addition to TESOL, you may have heard of TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). These abbreviations are frequently a source of confusion for new pupils.

In actuality, these three abbreviations all refer to the same idea. There is currently no single global standard for certifying ESL teachers. In contrast to the CPA for accounting, prospective international instructors do not need to get a specific credential, and TESOL is an umbrella acronym that refers to the general concept of teaching English to non-native speakers.

Examples of Effective Second Language Teaching:

Homework consists of speaking assignments, listening to the radio, watching television, and reading newspapers or online publications.

  • Encourage kids to seek out practice opportunities.

  • Encourage kids to seek feedback from others for corrective actions.

  • Students should keep a log or diary of their extra-curricular studies.

  • Make good use of field trips.

  • Organize social gatherings with natural English speakers.

  • Speakers should be invited into classrooms.

The following is a list of teacher expectations, roles, and communication techniques with students:

  • Teachers are expected to suppress their emotions (and so are students).

  • Intellectual disagreement is interpreted by teachers as a personal betrayal.

  • Teachers award pupils for problem-solving precision.

  • Students should only talk in class when the teacher calls on them.

  • Teachers should never lose face; doing so also means losing students' respect.

  • Students anticipate that the teacher will show them "the way."

  • Teachers are permitted to say, "I'm not sure."

  • Teachers are permitted to express their feelings (and so are students).

  • Teachers see differences as a fun challenge.

  • Teachers recognize students who use novel approaches to problem-solving.

  • Students admire teachers' friendliness.

  • Students are encouraged to share their ideas.

  • Teachers can admit when they are incorrect while still maintaining the respect of their students.

  • Teachers expect students to figure things out on their own.

These expectations will come into play as you strive to be a good teacher, regardless of where you teach. When forming relationships with students and colleagues who may come from a different heritage, you must use caution. Always be sensitive to other people's perspectives and then do what you believe is appropriate to negotiate attitude changes. Be prepared to give up some of your ideal self, especially if you begin a teaching assignment.

Keep an eye out for Fake Programs

A number of for-profit companies have sprung up in the hole left by the lack of official certification, trying to take advantage of unsuspecting students.

Multiple companies now offer short-term non-credit certification programs in the same way that 'degree mills' entice students with promises of easy bachelor's degrees. These programs have no academic affiliation, and while they can still give a solid education, some schools may deem them less credible when you seek jobs.

Employers will often look for a certificate including a minimum of 100 hours of teaching to confirm a prospective employee's training. When selecting a program, make sure to study the school to ensure that it is a legitimate program that gives adequate training and does not appear to be too good to be true (low cost, exceedingly positive reviews, a bogus accreditation).

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