ESL Teaching Guide - United States (schools)

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Nancy Helmstetter - June 2004

I teach ESL at an elelmentary school that goes from K-6th grades. I pull kids out of class as a resource person and work with them 1,2, or the max 3 hours per day. The positive things about this job is the kids themselves and their families.

I usually become a significant part of their lives. I am like a buoy to the ones that speak no English at all. My negatives are that I am understaffed at my school and there is always no monies to remedy the situation. Some of my students are not being serviced as they should.

Heather Hassenbein - May 2004

I am from San Mateo, California. I am currently teaching at Marin Day Schools.

The positive aspects of my current teaching job are the children and flexible hours. The negative aspect is the pay!!!!!! I make: $13/hr. Great staff support but turnover is high. Curriculum: Project Approach (child-directed). Student motivation: Positive reinforcement, loving environment, respect each child as an individual therefore their choices are granted as long as it is positive.

Cost/standard of living: Northern California C.O.L. is incredibly high and that is why everyone is leaving to go out of state.

Christine Flay - May 2004

I was born in Puerto Rico (but not native-not native speaking Spanish). I have moved around the east coast of the US. I now live in western North Carolina.

My students are among the most well behaved students in my schools. I teach mostly Mexican immigrants at two schools. They try hard and keep out of trouble. The bad part of the job is how the ESL program is handled and how the Hispanics in our community are treated.

The program is mandated but the schools are not happy about it. We are the first to loose things (funding, rooms etc). There is a lot of prejudice towards the Mexicans around here.

The pay is regular teacher pay for the county. Starting at $2,525/month with benefits.
Staff support is mediocre. I teach k-8. I am called a 'pull-out' teacher because I take the students out of their regular classroom 2-3 days a week for about 30 mins a day. I quite often have to track my children down, which wastes time.

I teach at two different schools. I have about 37 students at one and 24 at the other. I don't have a real classroom. In one school I am in the old nurse's office and when I have 8 first graders in there at one time it gets a little noisy. In the other school I am in a room off the library, with one table for me and the students to share. The librarian and the music teacher have things stored in there as well.

Currently we have no curriculum. We have been told it is coming. I can't wait. We do have plenty of materials but no set lessons. It is up to the teacher to decide what the students need. Sometimes that is wonderful. Other times, like when you have one student that is fluent, one that is middle of the road and one that is non-English speaking together, it can get hairy.

There is little motivation for the students. I give no grades. I do test for fluency once a year. For new students that may have a bearing on wether they take End of Grade tests. For the others it's just an added test.

Suggested Reading

The Academic Job Search Handbook
Expert Resumes for Teachers and Educators
Succeeding at Your Interview: A Practical Guide for Teachers
Inside Secrets of Finding a Teaching Job
How to Get the Teaching Job You Want

LaurieAnne Rosenblatt - May 2004

I am from California and am currently teaching in Newark, CA.

The positive aspects of my current teaching job: I love my job!

The negative aspects: I don't like that my job is only part time: mornings and evenings four days a week and there are no benefits such as medical, paid leave, etc. My wage is $25.00/hour. The ESL program I teach in is fairly independent from the other programs at our school. The ESL teachers (3 of us) make decisions regarding curriculum and choice of materials. I have a wonderful principal who is very supportive.

Brenda Brown Boenzi-Reed - May 2004

I am currently teaching in Atherton, California. The positive aspects of my current teaching job include working with the most difficult students in education, the middle years. These students need to become self-directed, self-aware, and self-motivated before learning can take place. It is my position to motivate and give their self-esteem the help needed to know that each student can become better than they thought possible. I can do this with my students and this is the positive aspect of my position.

The negative aspects are that I deal with students who are bi-lingual and their parents don't all speak English. This situation does not give the teacher and parent a good grasp on what is happening in the students life. The parent can't communicate with the teacher and the teacher can't do so with the parent. The student is in charge.

The wages are standard for teacher's in this area; staff is excellent (we all work together to support each other). The curriculum is not that good; we need to have curriculum that is based on the student's ability and then go from their. Most of the time we teach standard and all students cannot grasp what is standard if they are not familiar with the language in the first place. student motivation; I keep fighting to get things in our curriculum that will help with student motivation.

Education is a wonderful thing but not if students are not motivated to learn. and, if teaching abroad, some details about accommodation and cost/standard of living - all this would be thoroughly appreciated. I have never taught abroad, but I have attended schools in Bermuda and that was the best educational experience I have ever had. I learn.

Nola Clayton - May 2004

I am a first year teacher teaching in a small school district in Arizona. I am also in a Master's program for my degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on ESL. I currently teach 1st grade and have no ESL children in my classroom. I should be getting some next school year, as there are a few in Kindergarten.

The salary is mediocre at best, but I love teaching. I have grown children and 8 grandchildren. I have lived in European countries for 10 years when rearing my own children, so I know what it feels like to be unable to communicate. I know I am not "dumb", but often people treat you like that just because there is a language barrier. I don't want any of my children to ever feel that way!

We do not have much of a support system here, with no teachers aides or para-professionals in the classrooms. There are very little special services offered.

Liz - May 2004

Currently Teaching: ESL Grades K-5 , Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Positive Aspects of Job: It is a rewarding teaching experience. Working with great teachers that love having these kids in their room. Watching kids change right before your eyes. Having a curriculum in place with teaching materials available to us. Virginia Beach offers many resources to teachers for making materials. Currently only working between two schools - subject to change yearly. No Child Left Behind - It is a good thing if done correctly with reasonable expectations/measures.

Negative Aspects of Job: No Child Left Behind - does not understand the limitations of these students and sets the bar way too high especially for their participation in standardized testing; does not fund the changes that they want to see; etc.

Also, classroom teachers that have issues with "foreigners" as they call them; take no interest in meeting the needs of their students; are not sensitive to the needs of the students and their families. Paperwork - Not enough time to do the job as well as you would like to - we are spread too thin.

Barbara Fowler - May 2004

I am from Austin, Texas and currently teaching Leander ISD for Community Action San Marcos, Texas.

The positive aspects of my current teaching job: I love teaching adults, it is a very satisfying and gratifying to teach people who are truly interested and enjoy learning. These people make me smile.

The negative aspects: I teach public school during the day and adult ESL on Tuesday and Thursday. The negative is the long days.

The pay is very good. $17.75 per hour. Admin. and support staff are very good. We have many opportunities workshops and additional training. We are supplied with any and all materials and books we have needed. We have had access to the computer labs and library at the public shool where we teach. Field trips have been provided for the students and their families.

I will be moving to the Ft. Worth area in the summer. I am very interested in continuing to teach adults. However, It has been very difficult to find any information or contacts to apply for a
position in that area. - First Stop for Your Second Language Needs
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