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.

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You could consider a career as an ELL instructor if you like teaching and are able to communicate effectively with people whose first language is not English. If you do pursue this path, you will need to earn a bachelor's degree and become licensed as a teacher. ELL instructors might work in elementary school through high school, and job growth for all teachers should be as fast as average in the coming decade.

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.

Career Elementary School Teachers Middle School Teachers High School Teachers Adult Education Teachers
Required Education Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Licensure Licensure Licensure Licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% 6% 6% 7%
Median Salary (2015)* $54,890 $55,860 $57,200 $50,280

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 elementary through high school levels are expected to have a 6% increase in demand between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salaries for elementary through high school teachers in 2015 were between $54,890 and $57,200, 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 7% during the 2014-2024 decade. As of May 2015, the median salary in this profession was $50,280, 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.

In summary, a bachelor's degree in education is a typical minimum requirement for aspiring ELL instructors. Teachers are required to be licensed in every state, and ELL instructors are often licensed teachers. These professionals use cultural awareness and knowledge of language theory to work with students who are trying to improve their English.

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