Roles of an ESL Teacher


ESL teachers have different responsibilities than other English teachers. ESL teachers may obtain specialized certifications and/or education. English as a Second Language (ESL) is also referred to as a course of study as Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL or TSL) and as a Foreign Language (TFL).

Second Language Learning

  • The primary role of ESL teachers is the facilitation of language learning by using specific teaching methods. Learning English as a second language comes with its own problems. ESL teachers have to use teaching methods that solve these problems.

Teaching Methods

  • Teaching methods are based on theories. ESL teachers ascribe to a variety of methodologies. According to Theories in Second Language Acquisition, ESL teachers employ activities that engage students in the learning process, like conversation.

Teaching Moments

  • Learning styles vary. Theories in Second Language Acquisition indicates that students learn some aspects of the second language independent of instruction. The ESL teacher's influence on learning may be limited and/or dependent on student ability. ESL teachers find moments that facilitate both individual and group learning by paying attention to classroom dynamics.

ESL Teacher Research

  • ESL teachers stay current on research. Some topics are unexplained, according to Theories in Second Language Acquisition. One such issue is whether or not the second language learner's first language can have an influence on their second language learning. ESL teachers, in light of new knowledge, would revise methods for students according to first language.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learning outcomes for students vary. Students should be able to write and speak at a predetermined level assessed through written and spoken examinations by the end of the class.


  • Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction; Bill VanPatten and Jessica Williams, editors; 2007
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