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Careers in EFL, TEFL, ESP, TESOL

Updated on February 1, 2010

ESL Acronyms

Wondering what type of career this might be? Well, it is being an instructor teaching English as a second language. I have done some of this and it is rewarding even as a volunteer to someone grow from a novice to pro. But, do not expect to get rich. At best, you might have a wonderful experience in another country, new friends, personal growth and have a modest income.

The industry is loaded with acronyms and while many crossover, each targets specifically different.

ESL means English as a Second Language and includes students who are learning English to live and work in an English speaking environment.

EFL , TEFL means English as a Foreign Language, and is primarily taught to students as a foreign language, which is not required for the living/working environment on a daily basis.

TESOL meaning Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

ESP = English for Specific Purposes.

VESL = Vocational English as a Second Language. Both ESL and VESL refer to teaching English for specific purposes such as Business English, Computer English, etc. So, a private firm might hire you to teach key players in a department about computers, business as it relates to them.

Most common careers and training are EFL or TESOL. Many schools offer online courses and certification, which is important for employment and better pay.


Jobs are easy for teachers wanting to go to Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Poland and Central America. The most sought after locations are Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Czech Republic. United Arab Emirates, China, Vietnam and Turkey. The Gulf region of the Middle East (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar) offer the best salaries and benefits packages - often providing paid vacation, accommodation, airline ticket and medical insurance in addition to a tax-free salary in the $24-37,000 range.

Most countries in Western Europe are members of the European Union (EU), and there are labor regulations that restrict the employment of non-EU nationals. This means American teachers wanting to go there will have a tough time because American English is not that sought after.


Entry level jobs require a bachelor's degree plus a teaching certificate (TEFL or CELTA). This teaching certificate can be acquired in a relatively short course of 4-8 weeks. This certificate will allow you to teach in private schools. Pay is not much higher than $22 an hour. Average pay is around $14 - $18 an hour and the teaching week is usually 20 to 24 hours. The basic salary of an ESL/EFL teacher averages about $12,000 - $20,000 a year. As far as pay goes, ESP (English for Special Purposes) is required by many businesses and is generally pays up to $50 an hour.

Pay increases substantially upon obtaining a MA in ESL, offered by many colleges. This will allow you teach at public schools, colleges etc. The usual prequisite to this is having a BA. The MA can be achieved within 18 months.


Below is a list of key books used by many university\college ESL programs:

Linguistics for Educators
Author: Steven L. West
Publisher: International Institute of Language and Culture
Edition: 2nd
Publication Year: 2008
ISBN: 978-0-9778-0291-3

Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language
Author: M. Celce-Murcia
Publisher: Heinle & Heinle
Publication Year: 2001
ISBN: 978-0472031030

Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching
Author: D. Larsen-Freeman
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Year: 2000
ISBN: 978-0194355742

Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication
Author: Milton Bennett (editor)
Publisher: Intercultural Press
Edition: 1st
Publication Year: 1998
ISBN: 1-877864-62-5

Principles of Language Learning and Teaching
Author: D. Brown
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Publication Year: 2007
ISBN: 978-0131991286

Teaching American English Pronunciation
Author: Peter Avery, Susan Ehrlich
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Year: 2002
ISBN: 0-19-432815-5

Systems in English Grammar
Author: Peter Master
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Edition: 1st
Publication Year: 1995
ISBN: 978-0131568372

Teaching Adult ESL: A Practical Introduction
Author: Betsy Parrish
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Publication Year: 2004
ISBN: 9-780072-855135

Teaching Academic Writing: An Introduction for Teachers of Second Language Writers
Author: B. Paltridge, et. al.
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication Year: 2009
ISBN: 978-0472033348



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    • profile image

      sm thompson 

      7 years ago

      I am an Excellent EFL author and my work has been performed lst time ever at King Edward Vl School Southampton with excellent results 2009 - 2010!


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