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ESL stands for English as a Second Language. In some instances, it is also referred to as English as an Additional Language (EAL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) depending on the learning environment. For this article, only the term ESL will be used.
Just by looking at all the abbreviations above that mean almost the same thing, you can get a sense of how popular or in-demand ESL teachers are.
🔍 Fact: There are around 1.5 billion English language learners (ELL) around the world and they range from toddlers to business professionals. But no matter the age, level, and needs of their ESL students, ESL teachers are required to prepare lesson plans, assess and keep track of their students' progress with homework and tests, and develop their own classroom management styles.
These responsibilities sound a lot like those of an English Language Arts teacher (ELA teacher), so how are these two teaching jobs different?
ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher vs. ELA (English Language Arts) teacher:
Whether you want to teach ESL overseas, teach online, or locally, it is important to know how to write an ESL teacher resume (also known as ESL CV in British influenced regions). A great resume can help employers in the education sector understand if your teaching skills, teaching methods, and teaching philosophy are compatible with their core values. A well-written ESL teacher resume can also help you analyze your strengths and weaknesses as an ESL teacher.
However, no matter how experienced an ESL teacher you are, resume or CV writing is hard. It is hard to transfer years of experience onto just a few pages. If you have just started in the education sector, how do you convince the manager to hire you? Nowadays, there are links to online portfolios or video cover letters you can include to catch a hiring manager's attention. But if you want to rely solely on the A4 document you are submitting, keep in mind that it is structure and content that matters.
Before composing your resume or CV, think about who your audience is.
What educational system does the school fall under? If you are applying to a school that follows the Common Core Standards, or you know that it is heavily influenced by the American culture, make sure to submit an ESL teacher resume. But if the school is more European influenced, then an ESL teacher Curriculum Vitae (CV) is more appropriate.
What is the difference between a resume and a CV? The two job hunting documents are similar in the sense that they both require the job seeker to include an overview of his/her achievements, work experience, and skills. Some people even use these two terms interchangeably, but Curriculum Vitaes focus more on a job applicant's academic achievements while resumes focus more on the applicant's achievements in their previous jobs. While it is emphasized on most Job search sites that Curriculum Vitaes are for academia or teaching jobs and resumes are not, it is really up to the school that you are applying to, as mentioned before.
💡 Tips: The school usually would announce in their job posting which one they are looking for - if you are unsure, you can always contact them before applying.
While it is tempting to use a fancy design for your resume, it is best to stick to a more conventional layout since you are trying to showcase your core competencies as an ESL educator.
Your resume should be able to highlight the hard skills and softs skills that you have as an ESL teacher, such as your classroom management style, your understanding of summative formative assessments, your ability to design a curriculum and plan lessons according to the curriculum, and your ability to provide fun and engaging English education.
✅ Your ESL teacher resume should be skills-focused; it is recommended that you create a functional resume or combination resume. If you are targeting a specific school, it might be a good idea to try a targeted resume. Learn about 4 different types of resume formats first before making your decision.
To avoid writer's block right away, try to browse through already existing ESL resume templates.
Most job search websites include resume templates you can easily customize - some require you to become a paid member, but some only require free but complete registration.
Every school has its own unique environment and ESL program. The school you are interested in might have a co-teaching system, or an after school ESL club that requires team teaching. Submitting a tailored ESL teacher resume shows that you have studied the school's core beliefs, teaching environment, and philosophies. Browse through the ESL teacher job description, the school's website, and the hashtags that the school has used on social media.
💡 Tips: If the school has used the hashtag PBL several times, you know that they want a teacher who has a deep understanding of project-based learning.
Now that you have created your resume outline, go back to the top of the page and give it a resume headline and a resume profile. The headline goes before the profile; but since the resume headline is a one-line summary of the resume profile, the trick is to create your resume profile first before giving your ESL teacher resume a headline. You can present this section as a five to seven line paragraph, or you can use bullet points, whichever helps you to highlight your talents and catch the attention of your recruiter.
The first sentence of your resume profile is your topic sentence, so it should quickly tell the recruiter what kind of teacher you are and what you can do for the school. Make sure to capitalize the words to hint that this is a title.
ESL teacher resume headline examples:
💡 Tips: If you do not have experience yet, cite any achievements that could be related to the job position you are applying for - include highlights from your teacher training or practicum.
After this first sentence, state your resume objective, or why you are submitting your resume to the school.
From here, include keywords that can be found in the job description, or research some of the skills or qualities that most schools are looking for on job boards. Remember, the purpose of your resume profile summary is to tell the recruiter what you can bring to the table, not what you are looking for.
Example of a complete resume profile summary:
Bilingual ESL teacher with 4+ years of experience working in a middle school co-teaching setting seeking a full-time position as a seventh grade EAL Support Teacher. Innovative and passionate teaching professional with a genuine interest in ESL teaching methodologies. Strong leader with interpersonal skills who builds rapport with colleagues, students, and parents.
📝 Note: After having a professional summary for ESL teacher, you can now condense it to just one phrase, and that is your resume headline.
The skills section on a ESL teacher resume can also help the recruiter learn what you can bring to the table. Most people overlook this part of the resume because they deem it redundant. However, if the right keywords are used, your ESL teacher resume may just be able to outshine others.
Hard skills (specific and teachable):
Soft skills (personal qualities, attitude, interpersonal skills):
Think about the skills you already possess to customize this section to fit the requirements of the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an ESL Support Teacher role who needs help your ESL kids understand the content being taught in Science and History, then your hard skills might include History content knowledge, Science content knowledge, literacy, continuous assessment, giving instructions/instructions checking. And you might want to include collaboration, communication, creativity, empathy, and adaptability as your soft skills.
🔍 How many skills should you include on your ESL teacher resume?
As this section is usually on the side of your resume or usually below your work history, it is advised not to include more than 10. If you think you have more than 10 skills, you can always present them in your work history section as longer phrases.
Your ESL teacher work history should focus on the transferable skills that you have acquired. If you have achieved amazing things in your previous workplace, include those in your bullet points as well. Remember to start each bullet point with an action verb in the past tense. Be sure to include your job title, the name of your school, and the duration you have worked at the institute so the recruiter can understand when and how you have acquired those skills.
You may use longer phrases in this section, so please take advantage of as many useful and relevant keywords from your research about the school and from the job posting you have found. Make sure to list your experience in reverse chronological order.
After the recruiter has had a sense of who you are as an educator, he or she will also want to find out where you have trained as an ESL teacher. Some schools abroad may only require a Bachelor's degree, but some might want the candidate to have a TESOL certificate, or even a PGDE. Always start with your highest attained degree and work your way down to high school.
For overachievers who have won awards or have held positions in school clubs. You can showcase them in the additional information section. This section may help your recruiter confirm if you really do have the leadership skills and interpersonal skills that you have listed previously.
Along with your ESL teacher cover letter, your resume is the only way to make a good impression on the recruiter, so here are a few things to remember.
As mentioned before, it is frowned upon to submit the same resume to different schools. Schools in different regions look for different qualities in a teacher, so submitting a customized ESL teacher resume can showcase the fact that you have done your research on the school and the culture of the region in which it is situated.
They help keywords jump out at the recruiter who usually has less than 8 seconds to review a ESL teacher resume. Also, bullet points help a resume look more organized.
If you are unavailable to turn your achievements into numbers, make sure to include viable ones that are relevant to the position you wish to secure. Providing useful achievements can help the school imagine all the possible contributions you could bring to the table.
Most teachers do not know about this, but there is an increasing number of schools, especially private or international schools that use Applicant Tracking System/Software to filter applicants. The larger the school, the more likely they are going to feed your ESL teacher resume into the ATS. Most schools abroad also hire through education recruitment agencies because they want quality teachers fast.
Action words are also known as power words. These words help your daily mundane tasks stand out and become achievements. Rather than "planned a curriculum with another teacher," try "collaborated with the English lead teacher on curriculum design." Turn a DIY clay mug into a coveted Starbucks mug. This is a subtle way of tooting your own horn.
If you are planning on teaching abroad or online, include a hyperlink to a teaching demo video. It will give your potential employers an idea of your teaching style, classroom management skills, and most importantly your command of English. If you have designed your own lesson plans, feel free to turn them into concrete lessons in a demo video to show how creative you can be.
💡 Pro Tips: You can also opt to attach your teaching videos to your ESL teacher cover letter. That way, if the recruiter has decided to print out your resume before reading it, they do not have to wonder what the hyperlink leads to.
The ESL teacher cover letter tells a deeper story of who you are as an ESL instructor. The cover letter consists of three paragraphs.
DO customize the language so the recruiter understands your motivation. Also, don't forget to mention your teaching video or career portfolio if you have one.
Lead Middle School EAL Support Teacher (6-8th Grade)
No. 3, Wendover Rd, Forest Hills, Queens 33143 NY
Adaptable Dedicated Bilingual (viz. Chinese and English) Middle School ESL teacher with 6 years of experience seeking to progress ESL career in Asia. Ability to facilitate a classroom by presenting either receptive skills focused or productive skills focused lessons. Collaborated in a team setting to create 100+ Individualized Education Plans for English Language Learners.
Bright Minds International School, Singapore
7th Grade ESL Push-in Support
08/2017 – Present
Dammam International School, Saudi Arabia
English Language Specialist
08/2014 - 06/2017
Wixon Innovation School, Massachusetts
08/2010 - 06/2014
2007 – 2009, Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary)
University of Edinburg
2003 – 2007, B.Ed in English as a Second Language
--- Originally written by Wendy Chen ---