Earning a Bachelor's in ESL Online

Browse our ranking of the top online Bachelor's in ESL programs in the country, and learn how to take your next steps to a better career in ESL today.

Should I Pursue a Bachelor's in ESL Online?

Earning an online English as a second language (ESL) bachelor's degree provides students with knowledge of second-language acquisition and child development. Graduates often pursue careers teaching bilingual students. Programs may explore ESL teaching strategies and curriculum models for various academic subjects, and some programs focus on specific grade levels.

After obtaining the necessary certifications, graduates can work in preschool and elementary schools. Graduates may also help adults who are non-native speakers gain English literacy and prepare for high school equivalency tests. Additionally, ESL bachelor's degree holders can pursue careers outside classroom settings. For example, graduates can become instructional coordinators and help shape K-12 curricula for school districts. Some advanced positions also require a master's degree, so students may also consider obtaining a master's in ESL online.

Some ESL teachers educate students in a virtual format. For example, VIPKid hires English teachers to work with Chinese students through online classrooms. Pursuing an ESL degree online can prepare learners to communicate effectively through distance learning platforms.

Ideal students for ESL education programs boast patience and positive attitudes, and they also have strong communication skills. These candidates should love learning and want to help others grow intellectually.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in ESL Graduates

Graduates of online ESL bachelor's degree programs can work in a variety of settings, such as elementary classrooms and summer camps that assist non-native speakers. The following sections provide an overview of some of these professions, including career descriptions, growth projections, and salaries.

Bachelor's in ESL Careers

Individuals who earn a bachelor's in ESL online can work in K-12 settings. Specifically, graduates can teach in bilingual classrooms or shape curricula that reflects the needs of ESL learners. However, some of these careers may require advanced credentials, such as a master's degree or teaching certification. Candidates can also work at summer camps and programs that target non-native speaking children and help adults gain English literacy. Each of these positions requires patience, attention to detail, and strong communication skills.

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $53,630
Job Growth: -5%

These teachers help adults prepare to earn high school equivalency diplomas by educating them on subjects including math, English, social studies, and science. These professionals can also help non-native speakers increase their English literacy. Online ESL bachelor's degrees provide students with the language development and teaching skills necessary for these positions.

Instructional Coordinator

Annual Median Salary: $64,450
Job Growth: 11%

Instructional coordinators help school districts shape curricula based on student needs and data. These professionals often oversee faculty workshops, making suggestions on course materials and teaching techniques. Many schools require instructional coordinators to hold a master's degree.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $57,980
Job Growth: 7%

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers educate children in basic disciplines, such as math, science, reading, and social studies. These professionals build lesson plans, provide assignment feedback, and maintain classroom safety and efficiency. An ESL education bachelor's degree provides knowledge in child development and teaching tactics for bilingual classrooms. Public school teachers in most states must also obtain teaching certification.

Preschool Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $29,780
Job Growth: 10%

Preschool teachers help prepare children for kindergarten by covering concepts such as colors, numbers, and letters. These educators also encourage social engagement among children and look for signs of behavioral and/or developmental issues. Additional responsibilities may include recordkeeping and communicating with families and faculty about children's needs. These positions typically require an associate degree. However, online ESL degree programs can prepare students for positions in bilingual preschool classrooms.

Recreation Worker

Annual Median Salary: $25,060
Job Growth: 9%

Recreation workers encourage physical and social activity in various settings. Summer camps and parks may employ these workers to oversee programs and ensure safety. These positions often require only a high school diploma for these positions. However, camps and programs for ESL learners may favor applicants with related degrees.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in ESL Program?

The structures of online ESL bachelor's degree programs vary. Departments require different application materials, and programs may offer different concentration options. However, most ESL programs share some common elements. Students completing ESL bachelor's programs online often take the classes listed below.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's Degree in ESL

ESL Curriculum and Instruction

This class examines techniques for educating ESL learners in multiple disciplines, such as reading and science. Students may also explore social, cultural, and legal concerns for ESL education, along with learning stages and cognitive development. This class helps prepare students for careers as instructional coordinators for ESL learners.

Second Language Acquisition

This course explores the process of learning a second language. Students assess the impact of culture on language acquisition and examine applicable technology and teaching strategies. Students gain skills for teaching ESL to children and adults.

ESL Grammar

Students pursuing a bachelor's in ESL online typically examine English grammar to prepare to assist ESL learners with constructing grammatically correct sentences. Students in this course learn to help adult and K-12 ESL learners correct structural errors. Graduates can apply these skills to careers as literacy educators for children and adults.

Teaching English in a Global Context

This class covers global issues regarding the English language and second language acquisition, including legal, economic, and cultural factors. Learners earning an online ESL bachelor's often examine cultural variations of English. Graduates can use this information in international relation careers and as adult literacy educators for students from other nations.

Mathematics for Early Childhood Education

Learners examine techniques for teaching mathematics in early childhood classrooms. Coursework may focus on specific grades and generally covers simple math concepts like addition, percentages, and multiplication. Graduates can apply this knowledge to roles as instructional coordinators and elementary math teachers in bilingual classrooms.

Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in ESL Prepares For

  • Teaching Certification: Public K-12 educators typically need to hold state teaching certification. Certification requirements vary between states but often include earning an education degree, submitting to a background check, and passing a certification test. These tests are often timed and require a registration fee. States typically require teachers to renew their certification every 2-5 years.
  • ESL Certification: This certification benefits ESL teachers in K-12 settings. Certification processes vary by state, but candidates must generally have completed college-level ESL coursework in areas including linguistics and teaching methodologies. Candidates may also need teaching experience and a passing score on a state ESL certification exam.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations assist students and professionals by hosting events, such as conferences and seminars. These events can help candidates build professional relationships and explore new concepts in ESL learning. Organizations may also provide professional development opportunities, including workshops and training, which may fulfill continuing education requirements for certifications.

Additionally, many professional organizations maintain online job boards and provide assistance with interviews and resumes. The organizations listed below are popular options for ESL education professionals. Candidates can also look up organizations that focus on their specific career or location.

  • TESOL International Association: This organization delivers seminars, virtual classes, conferences, and symposiums on teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). The TESOL Resource Center provides information related to lesson plans and teaching strategies, and the association publishes a journal: TESOL Quarterly.

  • National Association for Bilingual Education: NABE hosts an annual conference and the Dual Language Symposium. The association also publishes the Bilingual Research Journal and the magazine Perspectives. Candidates can browse an online job board and access career resources such as resume tips.

  • International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language: IATEFL hosts the International Annual Conference and Exhibition, which includes workshops and lectures. Members can apply for scholarships to attend this event. The association also provides monthly webinars and delivers information about open positions.

  • International Literacy Association: ILA delivers a conference and provides two-day intensives upon request. The group also offers resources including reading lists, a bimonthly magazine, and journals such as Reading Resource Quarterly. ILA's blog offers information on topics such as the impact of book clubs.

  • National Council of Teachers of English: This council's website connects individuals to the Conference on College Composition and Communication's yearly convention and the Conference on English Leadership's annual event. Members can network with professionals in the field through NCTE's Whole Language Umbrella organization. They can also access online resources including journals, lesson plans, and a blog.

  • Purdue OWL: This writing lab offers resources on essay formats, citation, and grammar. Additionally, the website includes topics related to ESL education, including information on global English variations and teaching strategies for bilingual classrooms.

  • Adult Learning Resource Center: This resource provides information on educating adults, including ESL and special needs learners. The group also hosts the annual Northern Region Adult Education Conference and provides a virtual orientation for beginning teachers.

  • Illinois Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages - Bilingual Education: Members can attend the group's yearly convention, workshops, and Graduate Student Conference at discounted prices. The organization also delivers a newsletter and webinars on topics such as assessment in bilingual classrooms.

  • EnglishUSA: This group connects members to its Stakeholders Conference, an annual Professional Development Conference, and webinars on concepts such as reading and ESL education. Site visitors can browse advocacy resources and job opportunities.

  • Boston Public Library: The Boston Public Library provides tutoring and classes for ESL learners and invites volunteers to participate. This opportunity can provide individuals with practical experience in ESL education. The library also connects ESL teachers with resources.