English language learning (ELL) teachers make a difference in the lives of students learning the English language. For millions of new immigrants and their children, being able to successfully learn English makes the difference between success and failure in life. An ELL degree prepares teachers to use the most effective teaching methods to enhance the language skills of their students.
The Value of an English Language Learning Degree
As the number of immigrants to the United States increases, the need for ELL teachers will grow. Millions of students from immigrant homes struggle to write, read, and speak English, which can create further barriers to learning. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 48 million public school students are English language learners. In 12 states, between 7 and 14 percent of public school students are English language learners. Many states have experienced a rapid growth of students requiring ELL instruction. In the state of California, 29 percent of public school students require English language instruction.
School districts recognize that ELL is a vital part of improving student achievement in public schools. Language proficiency impacts all academic areas, and learning English serves as the cornerstone of a student’s education. An ELL degree prepares teachers to help ELL students catch up with their English-speaking peers.
Courses of Study
An ELL Degree program provides the foundation that teachers need to successfully teach English as a second language. Students will learn key concepts in linguistics, such as phonetics, morphology, and syntax. Students will also learn theories of language acquisition and learn to develop instructional plans that meet both state and national ELL standards. ELL programs also prepare educators to apply different metrics to assess the progress of English language learners.
The following courses are included in an ELL degree program:
- Assessment and Administration of ELL Programs
- Language Acquisition and Linguistics
- Literacy and the English Language Learner
- Theories of Second Language Learning Acquisition
Students have the option of obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in ELL. A bachelor’s degree is suitable for most entry-level teaching jobs while a master’s degree may be required for promotions and to obtain administrative positions.
Certification and Licensure
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree is one of the first steps to becoming a teacher. However, there are other steps an ELL teacher must take to obtain certification to teach. While licensure requirements vary by state, teachers must pass a background check and pass a subject knowledge exam. Many states require that teachers obtain their bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school. Before enrolling in an ELL degree program, students should ensure that the program is compatible with the licensing requirements in their state.
English Language Learning Careers
Many ELL majors pursue careers as K-12 educators. Elementary, middle, and high schools all employ ELL teachers to serve the student body. However, ELL majors are not confined to teaching K-12 Students. Many ELL students work abroad, teaching English to students in foreign countries. Others are employed by international corporations to boost the English-speaking skills of their employees.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that openings for adult literacy and GED teachers are expected to grow by 15 percent. These teachers assist adults who may not have received access to language instruction while they were enrolled in public schools. Adult literacy teachers help adult students address any deficiencies in their ability to read, write, or speak English. They also prepare students who have dropped out of high school to prepare for the GED exam. With a median pay of $46K, adult literacy and GED teachers earn salaries comparable to their peers in a public school setting.
Those who receive a master’s degree in ELL may qualify for administrative positions in education. According to the BLS, openings for instructional coordinators are expected to grow by 20 percent. Instructional coordinators use their training in curriculum assessment methods to coordinate a school district’s curriculum and set the district’s teaching standards. Median pay for instructional coordinators is $58K.
Aspiring educators seeking an in-demand specialty should consider a degree in English Language Learning. In today’s economy, English skills are vital, and ELL teachers provide a critical service for the students they teach.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Occupational Outlook Handbook – Adult Literacy and GED Teachers.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Occupational Outlook Handbook – Instructional Coordinators.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). English Language Learners in Public Schools.