student resources for teaching English as a second/foreign language | home

Upcoming courses on teaching ESL in DePaul's Department of Writing, Rhetoric, & Discourse

  • ENG 409: Teaching ESL Writing (Autumn 2008 (graduate course)
  • WRD 377: Teaching/Tutoring ESL (Spring 2009) (Junior-Year Experiential Learning Course)


Frequently asked questions




I'm thinking about teaching English abroad. What do I need to know?

Start here, reading TESOL's Position Statement on Teacher Quality in the Field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

The resources below provide a nice overview to issues of teaching abroad or in the US.

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What kind of qualifications are necessary for teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) overseas?

There are a wide range of EFL job types. Some require no credentials at all (other than "native speaker"), some require a certificate or diploma, and still others require an M.A. in TESOL. The links below explain a bit more about each of these credentials. TESOL (the US-based international organization for teachers of ESL) offers a nice explanation of the various qualifications:

Outside of the US, the CELTA and Cert TESOL (Trinity Certificate) are recognized as the most reputable certificate programs. Certificates can be completed in 4-week intensive courses (in many countries around the world) or part-time over the course of several months or a year. Certificates offer a practical focus accompanied by a certain number of hours practice teaching.

If you decide to complete a certificate program that is not affiliated with one of these institutions, read through TESOL's Tips for Evaluating Independent Certificate Programs. For even more links related to teacher education in TESL/TEFL, go to TESOL's webpage for Finding Teacher Education Programs in TESOL.

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I'm thinking about teaching ESL in the U.S. What do I need to know?

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How can I find a job?

The sites below should give you a good start. Also consider joining a job listserv, so that you can receive email postings of jobs and, in some cases, discussions related to ESL/EFL employment.

Looking for jobs overseas can be tricky because you rarely have the opportunity to check them out first. Find out as much as you can about the history of the organization, the people who work there (including their qualifications and average length of time working there), the teaching demands, salary, benefits, housing assistance, and reputation. Also be sure to check The Graylist to see if anyone has reported on the institution.

One good way to teach overseas is to go as part of an established organization with a teaching program. The organizations below are just some examples of these.

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Where can I get a TESL certificate or MA TESL in the Chicago area?

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I've never taught before. Do I need some experience before getting a paid position?

While it is not always required, most jobs prefer that you have some teaching experience. More importantly, if you are considering teaching as a short-term or long-term career, it is probably wise to get some experience before you dive in. Some options are:

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Once I start teaching, where can I find classroom resources?

Many online resources are available. Try the following sites for free materials and tools:

In addition, consider building your own library. The following books might be good places to start for many hands-on materials and ideas for communication-focused teaching, especially in EFL contexts:

  • Teaching Adult Second Language Learners, by McKay and Tom
  • Five-Minute Activities: A Resource Book of Short Activities, by Ur
  • Discussions that Work: Task-Centred Fluency Practice, by Ur
  • Lessons from Nothing: Activities for Teaching with Limited Time and Resources, by Marsland
  • Games for Language Learrning, by Wright, Betteridge, and Buckby
  • Planning Lessons and Courses: Designing Sequences of Work for the Language Classroom, by Woodward
  • Keep Talking: Communicative Fluency Activities for Language Teaching, by Klippel
  • New Ways in Using Communicative Games in Language Teaching--this book is in a series in TESOL, including New Ways in...Teaching Grammar/Teaching Speaking/Teaching Adults/etc....strongly recommended.
  • Techniques and Resources in Teaching Grammar, by Celce-Murcia
  • Techniques in Teaching Vocabulary, by Allen
  • Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, by Gebhard (good teacher reference)


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last updated 20 May 08