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What Do Second Language Teachers Do?

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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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Second language teachers are hired by schools and families to teach a non-native language that is seen as instrumental in the future success of the students. Most often, second language teachers are hired to teach English in Asian and Eastern European nations where the population expects a lot of business interaction with western English-speaking nations in the future. Second language courses are usually conducted in local primary schools and universities, but they are also offered through online tutoring as well.

Teaching a second language usually requires some sort of teaching certification, as well as a basic university bachelor's degree, with Asian nations often being the easiest region in which to get hired for English teachers with limited credentials. Though the job doesn't typically pay well or offer health coverage and benefits, the advantage it provides is that second language teachers have an opportunity to live and work in another country for an extended period of time. Courses usually run between 20 to 24 weeks, and the pay rate goes up as the educational level of the student rises, with university and business second language teachers earning the most money.

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The second language schools involved in hiring teachers can vary greatly, from public to private and business organizations, and there are several sub-classifications of second language teachers to define this. General second language teaching is targeted at students who plan to live and work in an environment where that language is routinely used. Learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is targeted at students who need to master it for day-to-day business while not living where it is commonly spoken. Other variations of the occupation for second language teachers are focused on vocational language mastery, such as English for Special Purposes (ESP). These students are specifically learning the language to conduct business effectively with foreign groups within their fields, and these positions often pay three or more times as much as teaching primary school students.

In the United States and Britain, the minimum credential for second language teachers is a teaching certificate that can be acquired in 3 to 4 weeks time. A higher level credential that is recognized internationally throughout European and Asian nations is the Teaching Diploma, which can take anywhere from 3 months to a year of formal education to acquire. University and college positions for second language teachers, however, like most university positions in general, require a master's degree. Business environments also usually require fluency in the terminology of the field, such as in computer science, for second language teachers to be considered for hiring.

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