What is TESOL?

TESOL stands for “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.” It is a common term used to describe the professional activity of teaching English to students whose first language isn’t English. Similar terms include TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language).

In the past few decades, TESOL has been a growing practice. Many countries across the globe are expanding on the number of English classes in their schooling system. At the same time, companies wishing to remain competitive in the global market, place a high value on English fluency. Regardless of the demographics, there is a clear and growing worldwide demand for effective English instruction. As a result, many people are being drawn to the TESOL profession, or are seeking to diversity their skills.

TESOL teachers can have students ranging from beginners in primary education, to migrants / refugees, international students, and adults in business settings. Lesson content is often tailored to the individual needs and learning styles of students, and include a combination of styles to improve listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary skills. Many TESOL teachers remain in their home country to instruct incoming students or deliver lessons online, but many also travel and live abroad to lend their talents internationally. Popular locations for TESOL teachers include Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and South America, with many growing opportunities and incentives for prospective teachers. (For example, Chile has recently expressed a national goal to make the country bi-lingual in the next few years.)

TESOL teachers do not necessarily need to be native English speakers, but it is generally accepted that they need to have a solid command and understanding of the language. Most professional TESOL teachers are expected to have obtained a qualification, such as the Certificate IV in TESOL (11245NAT). Having an internationally recognised qualification such as this, can increase the number of potential job opportunities, and is an official endorsement of a teacher’s knowledge and skills in English language instruction.

Language learning approaches

TESOL teachers often incorporate multiple different teaching methods, in order to meet the needs and learning styles of students most effectively. These can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) – An approach that puts emphasis on oral communication and authentic interaction. Common activities in CLT include role plays, discussions, debates, and interviews. CLT is an effective method to increase student confidence and ability to use English in real-life settings. Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) is considered an offshoot of CLT.
  • Lexical Approach – An approach that instructs students recognise grammar patterns and build upon their vocabulary. By combining “chunks” of lexical phrases together, students can become proficient communicators.
  • Total Physical Response (TPR) – An approach that sees much success with younger and beginner students, particularly with kinaesthetic learning styles. TPR excels at teaching through listening and focuses on the coordination of language and movement. It is often taught alongside other approaches and incorporates games, action-based tasks and “learning by doing.”
  • Grammar-Translation method – An approach where students learn the grammatical rules between their native language and target language. This approach incorporates heavy textbook work and language drilling, and instruction is often given in the students’ native language. While this method is considered by some to be outdated, it is still used in some settings.
  • Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) – CALL is a generic term that describes the application of computer software into a language-learning concept. The accessibility and ease-of-use of the Internet, combined with the expansion of language-learning apps, social media, and video-chat services, has made it easier than ever for teachers to adapt material into a CALL resource. CALL software also encourages students to take charge of their learning.

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) – An approach designed to immerse students in English language instruction. This is often taught by combining a learning subject with second language instruction, essentially teaching two subjects at once. For example, a student could be given a math class in English, improving their mathematical skills, but also expanding on their English vocabulary.

With English being a “global language,” the need for qualified and skilled TESOL teachers remains higher than ever. Whether it is to improve their ability to communicate with native speakers, improve their quality of life in a new country, improve their academic or professional opportunities, or even just for fun, students all over the world, from all walks of life, are studying English every day.

With a formal, internationally recognised qualification in TESOL, aspiring teachers can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver engaging and effective language instruction to their students. Many people have found fulfilling and transformative careers through TESOL, by providing their students with the tools and confidence they need to improve their quality of life in today’s global, hyper-connected society.

If you are interested to learn more or have any questions about the Certificate IV in TESOL offered by the Sydney Higher Education institute, please don’t hesitate to contact: info@sydneyinstitute.org