How to Speed Through a TESOL Degree Program and Get into a Classroom Sooner


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While you can still find a few classrooms in the corners of the globe where an ESL degree isn’t mandatory to teach English as a second language, the most prestigious, highest-paying TESOL jobs only go to those applicants with higher-level certifications and degrees. That means the sooner you earn your TESOL master’s degree, the sooner you can start working with foreign-language speakers in your country of choice.

However, education isn’t something you can rush through wantonly. Here are a few tips to help you move swiftly through your advanced TESOL program while still gaining the skills and knowledge you need to succeed as an English teacher in a foreign land.

Be a Licensed Educator to Begin With

At its core, teaching English as a foreign language is still teaching, which means the more experience you have leading your own classroom, the better. Licensed educators will find the transition into TESOL programs and positions much easier because they are already familiar with the principles of education and the role and responsibilities of teachers. If you have been a teacher to English-speaking students, you will find the road into TESOL much straighter and smoother than those who haven’t ever taught a course or guided study. However, if you lack teaching credentials, you shouldn’t be discouraged; you can apply any leadership experience to your TESOL study to enhance your education and gain more from your TESOL studies.

Find Work in Your Country of Choice

This isn’t to say you should immediately begin applying for the TESOL jobs you are ultimately aiming for; rather, you should find a different job, one that does not require much familiarity with the native language and culture, to tide you over financially while you prepare your TESOL credentials. You might look for ESL teaching positions that don’t require advanced education or jobs within schools, like tutoring or administration positions, that help you add influential connections to your network before you apply with the full force of your advanced degree.

Many TESOL teachers study and apply for overseas positions from the comfort of their hometowns, and you can do this as well. However, by doing this, you deprive yourself of critical exposure to other foreign cities, languages, and cultures, which could be detrimental in your eventual job search. Schools will always give precedence to TESOL teachers who have some experience with the native population, so by spending time in your target country of employment before you begin looking for TESOL gigs, you improve your chances of landing your dream TESOL job.

Enroll in an Online Program

This is important regardless of where you decide to reside before you begin applying for TESOL positions. There are dozens of benefits to online TESOL master programs. For one, they allow you to receive a high-quality education from anywhere in the world, which means you have the freedom to relocate to your country of choice before you graduate with your degree. Additionally, because most online programs are asynchronous – meaning course material can be reviewed and assignments completed anytime, you can retain employment while you pursue advanced education.

Here are a few more reasons online TESOL education is superior to traditional, on-campus TESOL programs:

  • Online education is more instructional. A study comparing outcomes for online and traditional students determined that online courses result in better comprehension of material due to enhanced engagement.
  • Online education costs less. Though tuition for online and in-class programs might be equivalent, you can save money on housing, commuting and class fees by opting for courses online.
  • Online education improves side skills. In addition to enhancing the skills utilized in your online program – English grammar and vocabulary, teaching, etc. – you can also bolster your tech abilities.

Understand Graduation Requirements

Different TESOL programs might have different requirements for graduation. To ensure you aren’t trapped in school longer than you need or hope to be, you should look into the bare minimum requirements for graduation – and see if you can already cross some of them off your list. For example, some programs might require students to receive teaching licenses from their state; if you are already an active teacher, you don’t need to worry about that. You should understand how many credits you need and any mandatory courses, so you can plan out your schedule and rocket through your classes as fast as possible.

Make the Most of Your Program

Just because you are eager to begin your new career in TESOL doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay attention to the lessons in your TESOL master’s program. On the contrary, you should be especially diligent at soaking up the knowledge and skill you’ll need on the job. By befriending professors and peers, completing assignments and exams with panache and investing your whole self into your education, you’ll be prepared for your TESOL career in no time.

This post was provided by the University of Kansas School of Education.

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