ELL Instructor: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an ELL instructor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

ELL instructors teach courses of varying subjects in English to speakers of other languages, integrating language acquisition into their curriculum. Generally, elementary through high school ELL instructors have the same requirements as all teachers, earning their bachelor's degree (usually in education) before attaining a teacher's license. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for adult ELL teachers, though some adult education programs prefer teachers to hold a master's degree.

Required EducationBachelor's Degree
Other RequirementsLicensure
Projected Job Growth9%*(adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers), 6%*(all high school teachers), 12%*(all middle school teachers), 12%*(all kindergarten and elementary school teachers)
Median Salary$49,590*(adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors), $56,310*(all secondary school teachers, excluding special & career/technical ed.), $54,940*(all middle school teachers, excluding special & career/technical ed.), $54,120*(all elementary school teachers, excluding special ed.)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Elementary through High School Education

Elementary school instructors often teach one class multiple subjects, such as reading, math, science and social studies or one subject, like art or music, to many classes and incorporate ELL concepts into their daily curriculum. Middle school and high school instructors teach specific courses and provide students with a more in depth look into the subjects introduced in elementary school while implementing ELL concepts into course syllabi.

Teachers at the kindergarten through middle school levels are expected to have a 12% increase in demand between 2012 and 2022, while those at the high school level can expect a six percent rise in opportunities over that time period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salaries for elementary through high school teachers in 2014 were between $54,120 and $56,310 based on data from the BLS.

Adult Education

Adult educators provide students with the tools to communicate in English through speech, reading, writing and listening. Educators of adult ELLs are equipped with the knowledge to help students navigate society from the grocery store to the job market. Adult ELL educators may need to understand naturalization and citizenship concerns, as well as have knowledge of community resources.

The BLS reports employment prospects for adult literacy and GED teachers, including those who teach English language learners, will expand by 9% during the 2012-2022 decade. As of May 2014, the median salary in this profession was $49,590, as reported by the BLS.

Education and Licensing Requirements for ELL Instructors

ELL instructors at the elementary through high school levels are generally licensed teachers. Teachers normally graduate from a 4-year program with a bachelor's degree in education and then earn a teacher's license. Some states have alternative licensing programs for graduates in majors other than education who are interested in teaching.

Adult ESL educators should have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, while some adult education programs prefer graduates with a master's degree.

Prospective instructors will likely have college coursework in applicable technology, multiculturalism, professionalism, class preparation and assessment, grammar and language theory.


Licensing is required for all teachers, unless teaching in a private school, and is also necessary for adult educators, especially those working in local or state programs. Licensure generally requires finishing an accepted teacher training program and earning a bachelor's degree. Licensing requirements differ from state to state.

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