English Teacher – Salary, Job Description, and Educational RequirementsBy Eric Gill • October 4, 2012
Teaching English is a good career choice for people with strong language and communications skills. People with a broad knowledge of literature, a passion for reading, a knack for essay writing, and a devotion to education are well-suited for careers as English teachers.
English teachers are vital to the advancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) because they help expand interest in these subjects across the nation’s schools. Furthermore, the development of proper verbal and written communication skills are crucial to STEM learning.
Because English grammar, sentence structure and expository writing are rule-oriented, people who are methodical and patient are often well-suited to teach English.
Our guide offers insights into the required education, salary and job outlook of English teachers. Browse through the content or use these links to jump to your desired destination:
> Who makes good English teachers?
Teaching at the various levels
> Middle school English teachers
> High school English teachers
> Postsecondary/college English teachers
> Continuing education
> Professional associations
> Jobs beyond teaching
Best of the Web
> Sites and Twitter handles to follow
At-a-glance: English teachers
|Middle school||High school||College/postsecondary|
|Education||Bachelor’s; master’s preferred||Bachelor’s; master’s preferred||Master’s; doctorate|
|Typical study time||4-6 years||4-6 years||5-10 years|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Note: Middle and high school data listed is for teachers overall, and not English specific)
English teachers work in subject-specific classrooms in middle and high schools, junior colleges and universities. Depending on grade level, they may specialize in a specific area like English composition. Or, they may teach a variety of subjects, including English, American and world literature; reading; creative writing; poetry and prose.
Some English teachers also teach journalism and yearbook courses, drama, public speaking, debate, and a variety of specialized writing classes that focus on magazine, fiction, early romantic, neoclassical or biographical writing. Regardless of their area of expertise, all English teachers are expected to have a firm grasp of vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure and written communication rules.
“I absolutely love my profession! The very definition of what it means to be a literate person in our society is rapidly changing because of technology. I enjoy working to support students’ communication skills in the classroom, on paper, and online. I want to make reading and writing relevant to my students’ lives; this requires that I think bigger than simple pen and paper assignments.
“My students write passion blogs, go on Instagram sensory walks, engage in both synchronous and asynchronous discussions about literature, annotate digitally online, and create multimedia digital portfolios to share with the world! I feel fortunate to teach at a time when there is so much information right at our fingertips and so many new approaches to teaching.”
– Catlin Tucker, High School English Teacher, Windsor, California
English teacher job description
English teachers should be well-grounded in classroom management and school procedures. In addition to teaching creative subjects like poetry and fiction writing, they should be prepared to teach grammar rules, spelling and diction, word pronunciation, sentence structure, punctuation, reading and essay writing.
Full-time teachers typically work eight- to nine-hour shifts from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most public and some private school teachers have summers off, along with various holidays and winter breaks that generally run two to three weeks.
English teachers also:
- Prepare coursework and assignments for classes
- Grade tests, essays and reports, and other writing assignments
- Meet with colleagues to coordinate lesson plans and work with specific subjects of expertise
- Hold one-on-one conferences with students to keep them on track as necessary
- Meet with parents or guardians to discuss students’ academic progress, remedial issues and behavior problems when necessary
Who makes good English teachers?
English teachers should have outstanding vocabularies, with a firm grasp of word pronunciation and spelling and the ability to effortlessly break words down phonetically. They are expected to have a strong command of grammar and sentence structure rules, with a systematic and consistent approach to enforcing them. Grammar guidelines often require a repetitious approach, with a teaching style that balances classroom participation against the needs of individual students if they fall behind.
People who teach English should be:
- Comfortable speaking in front of large groups
- Able to explain complex subjects in simple terms
- Grounded in a firm understanding of the elements of style
- Prepared to teach a variety of genres, including expository, persuasive and argumentative writing
- Knowledgeable about punctuation — from the proper use of semicolons to word hyphenation
- Able to teach critical thinking skills while advancing students’ verbal and written communication abilities
“When I resigned as Director of the Heritage Project, I faced a choice: whether to go back into school administration or back into the classroom. The only job I ended up applying for is the teaching job I have now. I love spending my time thinking about the things that really matter by re-reading great literature daily, and it’s impossible not to love young people. Trying to show them the best ways into life — what else is there?”
– Michael Umphrey, English Teacher, Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana
Interested in becoming an English teacher?
A career as an English teacher offers an excellent opportunity to work in a creative field while transferring knowledge to young people and expanding their expertise in subjects that are dear to them.
Take a peek into the classroom of Teacher of the Year Karen Stanton:
Teaching English at the various levels
The road to becoming an English teacher depends on which environment an aspiring teacher decides to pursue: middle school, high school or postsecondary school (college). The higher the grade level, the more concentrated the specialization in English studies and curriculum.
Numerous factors determine what grade level to teach. These include:
- Teacher’s educational level (postsecondary institutions typically require an advanced degree, and many high school English teachers have master’s degrees)
- Range and breadth of English language arts subjects; the higher the grade level, the more advanced the curriculum
- Desire to teach advanced courses that are narrowly focused on literature and writing genres, beginning in grades 10 to 12 and continuing through college
- Age and maturity levels of students — from K-12 to college
- Local salary considerations and availability of employment opportunities
Middle school English teachers
Middle school English teachers instruct students on how to use the English language correctly through reading, writing and analyzing of literature and informative text. These professionals also help students develop composition and critical analysis skills.Click here for in-depth details about middle school English teachers
A middle school teacher’s job is to prepare students for high school English courses.
Middle school English teacher job description
Middle school English teachers generally teach grades six to eight. In some junior high schools, however, they may teach seventh and eighth grades. Some private and parochial, or faith-based, middle schools include ninth grade as part of middle school.
Private and public middle school teachers are expected to work full-time schedules Monday through Friday. In addition to teaching, English teachers spend much of their time on lesson planning, grading papers and tests, and working with individual students as necessary to keep all students learning at grade level.
- Organize and manage classrooms and work with administrators to implement school policies and procedures
- Assign classroom lessons and homework; grade assignments, essays and term papers with clarity and attention to detail
- Administer and grade tests while staying current with state and local middle school standards for English reading, writing and speaking standards
- Develop scaffolding (curriculum expectation) tables, working within the parameters of state and local requirements, and provide diagnostic feedback
- Conduct open classroom sessions for parents and guardians, and schedule parent-teacher conferences as needed
Middle school English curriculum
Middle school English teachers are focused primarily on reading, writing and speech development. They simultaneously work with classes and individual students to promote correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. Although grammar and simple sentence structure should be covered in elementary school, middle school English teachers should be prepared to provide remedial lessons as necessary to ensure grade-level performance.
Reading is an extremely important subject for middle school students and English teachers. Middle school students transition from casually reading children’s books in elementary school to comprehending meaning, style and point of view for a variety of genres, including fiction and nonfiction texts.
Writing exercises, reports, essays and tests for middle school students advance from simple sentence structure and independent clauses to the use of parallel sentences and dependent clauses. Middle school teachers are responsible for introducing students to more complex words, the use of connotations and synonyms, logical paragraph transitions, writing organization and story structure, literary style, and the introduction of satire and irony through classic and contemporary literature.
Here is a closer look at current English curriculum goals — what middle school students are expected to know and be able to do upon graduation and advancement to high school:
- Reading: ideas and details – Focus on analysis of texts, themes and central ideas, plot structure and character development
- Reading: craft and structure – Know word meanings and the context of phrases, figurative and connotative meanings, word choice selection and tone
- Reading: craft and structure – Understand how authors use writing elements and literary techniques to convey point of view; analyze sentences and chapters, scenes or stanzas
- Reading: compare and contrast – Use a variety of resources, including books, short stories, speeches, video and other media, to analyze various literary genres or themes and determine what type is appropriate for a given topic
- Writing: production – Develop clear and coherent writing through lessons and assignments focused on organization and style choices that are appropriate for a given audience
- Writing: technology – Use the Internet and other electronic resources to publish or post writing through blogs and social media; and develop techniques for efficient use of keyboards
- Writing: information – Use resources, including print and digital, to plan and gather information; understand the credibility of sources; learn when to quote people directly and when to paraphrase
- Speaking: collaboration– Begin public speaking by preparing, writing and delivering speeches; lead discussions with peers through groups, one-on-one sessions and through teacher-led exercises
- Speaking: comprehension– Select grade-appropriate topics, introduce abstract concepts and concrete topics and build on the ideas of others; respond to ideas from groups, asking questions and answering participants, and acknowledging positive contributions
- Speaking: analysis – Analyze information and feedback received from peers and the teacher; interpret their comments, criticisms and contributions objectively; acknowledge relevance and develop tactful arguments to refute contrary claims when appropriate
How to become a middle school English teacher: educational requirements
English teachers at all levels are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, mass communications or a specialized discipline such as creative writing or literature. English teachers often specialize in subjects such as grammar and various literary genres, like British or American literature, public speaking and debate, or writing.
- Less than high school diploma: 0.2%
- High school diploma or equivalent: 0.3%
- Some college, no degree: 2.9%
- Associate degree: 1.9%
- Bachelor’s degree: 44.3%
- Master’s degree: 46.5%
- Doctoral or professional degree: 3.9%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Note: Data listed is for middle school teachers overall, and not English specific)
Certification requirements for middle school English teachers
A state-issued teaching certificate or license is generally required to become a middle school teacher. However, some private schools do not require a teaching credential as a job condition. Certification and licensing requirements for middle school teachers vary from state to state. Teachers usually must take professional development courses as a condition of certification.
Teaching License Reciprocity by State: Visit our state-by-state teacher licensing and reciprocity page for regulations in your state.
Alternative certification is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated 20 percent of teachers entering the profession through nontraditional means. Because of fluctuating teacher shortages, states are offering alternative ways for people who already have bachelor’s degrees to get certified.
People with mass communications, journalism, marketing and public relations degrees who are well-grounded in English grammar and expository writing might consider teaching as an alternate career choice. These professionals, perhaps enticed by a standard workweek and two-month summer vacations, need to become certified before entering the education field. After graduating from teaching certification programs, these new English teachers are mentored by an experienced teacher until they earn full certification.
Middle school English teacher salary and employment projections
The salary for all middle school teachers across the United States ranges from about $36,000 to $56,000.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: $53,940
- Glassdoor.com: $47,979
- PayScale.com: $42,381
- Simply Hired: $36,000
The employment outlook for middle school teachers appears stable in certain regions, and the overall demand for teachers is stronger than many other professions. In some expanding U.S. regions, such as the Southeast, Southwest and West, job growth for middle school teachers is relatively strong. Overall, the BLS estimates a 12 percent growth rate for middle school teachers through 2022.
Pros and cons of being a middle school English teacher
- Teaching young students with intermediate-level grammar and writing skills and improving their English language abilities
- Advancing reading, writing and oral communications skills for students at a crucial age as they prepare for a high school curriculum
- Working in a profession that reflects the teacher’s passions for literature, writing and other subjects like drama, debate and journalism
- Working in classrooms with students who possess a wide range of learning abilities that can result in behavior issues
- Dealing with administrative processes and classroom procedures that are sometimes bureaucratic and frustrating
- Teaching adolescents at a difficult age level in a subject that requires concentration while dealing with some disruptive students
High school English teachers
High school English instructors may teach many different classes. These may include basic English grammar and reading classes as well as specific concentration areas like American literature, creative writing and advanced placement courses.Click here for in-depth details about high school English teachers
High school English teacher job description
High school English teachers generally teach grades nine to 12, though some high schools start at 10th grade. In certain parochial, or faith-based, preparatory schools students are expected to be more advanced; therefore, teachers should be prepared to teach college prep courses.
Private and public high school teachers are expected to work full-time schedules Monday through Friday. In addition to teaching, English teachers spend much of their time on lesson planning, grading papers and tests, and working with individual students as necessary to keep all students at grade level.
High school English teachers are often called upon to teach yearbook and journalism classes, where they assist students as editors, reporters and staff writers in producing the school’s daily or weekly newspaper online as well as in print.
A high school English teacher’s job is to prepare students for college and career.
- Implement school policies and procedures, as determined by school administrators
- Plan lessons, lectures, reading and writing assignments appropriate to high school English state and local academic standards
- Prepare students for grade advancement through subject-specific assessments that test their knowledge and ability
- Develop English language arts curriculum, working within the parameters of state and local requirements, and provide diagnostic feedback
- Meet with students individually when necessary to assess progress, improve learning performance levels and achieve overall education success
High school English curriculum
High school English teachers are responsible for covering more specific and in-depth subjects than their middle school colleagues. In ninth grade, English teachers continue to focus on grammar rules, sentence structure and expository writing techniques. They also introduce students to sophisticated reading materials and more expansive writing assignments, like research papers.
As students progress through 10th, 11th and 12th grades, they are usually given choices in elective English courses. These can range from studying literature and plays, to analyzing satire and poetry, to public speaking and creative writing. This gives high school English instructors a wide latitude of courses to teach, but it also requires a higher level of curriculum expertise that often requires a master’s degree.
Here is a closer look at current English curriculum goals — what high school students are expected to know and be able to do upon graduation and advancement to college or career:
- Reading: ideas and details – Focus on evidence of what texts state explicitly; provide objective summary of texts; analyze how complex characters interact with other characters in texts and how authors advance plots and develop themes
- Reading: craft and structure – Determine word meaning and how phrases are used to derive figurative and connotative meanings
- Reading: craft and structure– Analyze tone and how authors develop a sense of time and place, as well as point of view and cultural experience for literature within settings outside the United States
- Reading: text complexity– Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas and poems for high school complexity and proficiency
- Reading: text complexity– Demonstrate knowledge of early American and 20th-century American literature through reading and interpretative writing
- Writing: types and purposes – Write analytical arguments with alternative and opposing views through counterarguments and claims (pros and cons) while offering supporting evidence
- Writing: ideas and complexity – Use words, phrases and clauses to establish text cohesion and establish relationships between claims
- Writing: ideas and complexity – Establish formal style, objective tone and distinct voice; organize complex ideas, concepts and information accurately and clearly
- Writing: supporting claims – Use relevant and sufficient facts to support claims, with extended definitions and quotations
- Writing: supporting claims – Use organizational structure with outlines, transitions and appropriate relationships among complex ideas and concepts
- Research: build and present knowledge – Conduct short and sustained research to answer questions and solve problems through narrow and broad inquiries, using multiple sources and media, including Internet search tools
- Speaking and listening: collaboration– Prepare for discussions through well-read and researched support materials, refer to research as evidence to support talking points and stimulate discussion and the exchange of ideas
- Speaking and listening: knowledge and ideas– Work with peers and teacher to establish rules for collegial discussions, decision-making, informal consensus, surveys and voting to present alternate rules and set goals for outcomes
- Speaking and listening: engage audience– Initiate discussions and propel conversations about topics to stimulate audience and reach conclusions through reasoning, use of evidence and rhetoric, and identification of distorted views
How to become a high school English teacher: educational requirements
English teachers at all levels are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, mass communications or a specialized discipline such as creative writing or literature. Many high school English teachers also hold master’s degrees. English teachers often specialize in grammar and various literary genres, like British or American literature, public speaking and debate, drama, short stories or essay writing.
- Less than high school diploma: 0.2%
- High school diploma or equivalent: 0.2%
- Some college, no degree: 2.3%
- Associate degree: 1.5%
- Bachelor’s degree: 43.4%
- Master’s degree: 48.3%
- Doctoral or professional degree: 4%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Note: Data listed is for high school teachers overall, and not English specific)
Certification requirements for high school English teachers
A state-issued teaching certificate or license is generally required to become a high school teacher. However, some private schools do not indicate a teaching credential as a job prerequisite. Specific certification and licensing requirements for high school teachers vary among the states. Teachers are usually required to take professional development courses as a condition of certification.
Teaching License Reciprocity by State: Visit our state-by-state teacher licensing and reciprocity page for regulations in your state.
Alternative certification is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated 20 percent of teachers entering the profession through nontraditional means. Because of fluctuating teacher shortages, states are offering alternative ways for people who already have bachelor’s degrees to get certified.
People with communications, journalism, marketing and public relations degrees who are well-grounded in English grammar and expository writing might consider teaching as an alternate career choice. These professionals, perhaps enticed by a standard workweek and two-month summer vacations, need to become certified before entering the education field. After graduating from teaching certification programs, new teachers are mentored by an experienced teacher until they earn full certification.
High school English teacher salary and employment projections
The salary for all high school teachers across the United States ranges from about $38,000 to $56,000 based on estimates.
- Salary.com: $56,142
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: $55,050
- PayScale.com: $45,049
- Simply Hired: $38,000
The employment outlook for high school teachers appears stable in certain regions, and the overall demand for teachers is stronger than many other professions. In some expanding U.S. regions, such as the Southeast, Southwest and West, job growth for high school teachers is relatively strong. Overall, the BLS estimates a 6 percent growth rate for high school teachers through 2022.
Pros and cons of being a high school English teacher
- Working with teenage students who are focused on college and career preparation can be less challenging than working in middle schools.
- Teaching young people critical thinking and language development skills is rewarding for people who want to help students prepare for college and career.
- Working among colleagues with similar interests and career goals, and focused on shared curriculum and classroom management techniques, is stimulating.
- High school English teachers often work with students who have a wide range of learning levels that make it challenging to accomplish class-oriented goals.
- Salaries for high school teachers, particularly those with advanced degrees, is relatively low compared to counterparts in other professions.
- Subject specialization can be less interesting for high school English teachers compared to general education teachers in elementary schools.
Get a glimpse of Sean McComb, 2014 National Teacher of the Year:
Postsecondary/college English teachers
Postsecondary English teachers have opportunities to teach specific, narrowly focused curriculum. Sixteenth-century English literature, writing about specific cultures like African-American or Asian studies, Latin poetry or U.S. speechwriting are just a few of the many subjects available to college students.Click here for in-depth details about postsecondary/college English teachers
This gives postsecondary English teachers opportunities to advance their own knowledge of subjects they care deeply about while researching and writing books, publishing reports, magazine and online articles, and peer review papers.
Postsecondary English teachers teach in lecture halls, medium-size classrooms and even online. They specialize in literature and writing and often focus on teaching tomorrow’s English teachers, who earn credentials to teach K-6, intermediate-level or high school students. College English teachers frequently serve as role models for English majors who also aspire to become teachers.
Postsecondary English teacher job description
Postsecondary English teachers cover the range of professional schools, junior colleges, state and private colleges, and universities. However, their audience comprises adults of all ages who are interested in English grammar, literature and writing.
Postsecondary teachers have more flexibility over the format of their instructional methods than their K-12 counterparts. They also have greater control over their schedules, with many postsecondary instructors teaching part time, as well as full time. They have fewer classroom management and procedural responsibilities than grade-school teachers but are expected to devote significant time to preparing lectures and instructions for assignments, in addition to evaluating and providing individual guidance to students when necessary.
- Creating a syllabus and preparing coursework focused on grammar, punctuation and spelling, reading and writing
- Preparing and giving lectures, leading discussions and giving multimedia presentations that enhance student understanding of vocabulary, reading and writing concepts
- Grading term papers, tests and other assignments, particularly writing, which can range from poetry to short stories to fiction and nonfiction manuscripts
- Working with associates and department leaders to coordinate English language arts exercises, instructional best practices and English department teaching goals
- Serving on academic and administrative committees and working with school provosts, department associates and staff on policy decisions that affect English language arts learners
- Working within budgets and helping to support English department objectives and school policies, with the overriding goal of promoting student learning
- Attending professional advancement seminars, symposiums and other events to expand knowledge of English language arts and contemporary teaching methods
And, specific to university professors:
- Conduct research to advance knowledge in their English subject specialization
- Publish books and articles, original research and analysis in academic journals
- Supervise graduate students who are working toward doctoral degrees
What about teaching English online?
English teachers who work online can be employed by community colleges, universities, vocational schools, or private education companies that cater to non-native English speakers.
Today’s computer technology advancements and a dramatic demand for online college courses provide postsecondary teachers with more career options.
English teachers have a multitude of media at their disposal, including real-time audio, face-to-face videoconferencing and presentation tools that facilitate the instruction of grammar and writing subjects in ways that were impossible or cost-prohibitive until the 21st century.
Many online instructors work in adjunct teaching roles. This means they work on a contract basis and are compensated per course. Some online adjuncts teach several courses for multiple schools and work enough hours to be considered full time.
How to become a postsecondary English teacher: educational requirements
Educational requirements vary with the type of postsecondary institution. Teachers who work at four-year colleges and universities are most often required to have a doctoral degree in their discipline. However, some schools may hire instructors with master’s degrees or those who are doctoral candidates for part-time positions.
Instructors with master’s degrees comprise the majority of full-time teaching positions at two-year colleges. Candidates holding dual master’s degrees have an advantage because they can teach more than one subject. Many two-year institutions prefer applicants who have experience with distance learning or teaching.
Doctoral programs generally take six to eight years to complete, including time spent earning a master’s degree and writing a doctoral dissertation. It is fairly common for students to conduct postdoctoral research for two additional years before they seek a faculty position.
- Less than high school diploma: 0.2%
- High school diploma or equivalent: 0.1%
- Some college, no degree: 2.6%
- Associate degree: 2.3%
- Bachelor’s degree: 16.0%
- Master’s degree: 35.6%
- Doctoral or professional degree: 43.3%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Note: Data listed is for postsecondary teachers overall, and not English specific)
Postsecondary/college English teacher salary and employment projections
Postsecondary English language and literature teachers earned a median salary of $60,920, according to BLS data for 2013, a slight increase from 2012. The statistics cover English teachers working at colleges, universities and professional schools at the local and state levels, and for private institutions. On average, university and four-year college teachers earn higher salaries than their counterparts at junior colleges.
- Salary.com: $53,223 to $190,165, with a median of $83,252
- Glassdoor.com: $56,837 to $121,825
- HigherEdJobs.com: $53,968 to $82,840 for tenure-track or tenured
Employment of all postsecondary English teachers is projected to grow about 12 percent through 2022, slower than in the past. Most openings are expected to be for part-time faculty.
- Junior colleges (private and public): 3.9%. Annual mean wage of $67,670
- Colleges and universities (private and public): 1.5%. Annual mean wage of $69,330
- Technical and trade schools (private): 0.24%. Annual mean wage of $49,650
- Educational support services (public state): 0.32%. Annual mean wage of $57,090
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
A note on tenure: For postsecondary teachers, a significant goal in the traditional academic career is attaining tenure — a guarantee that a professor cannot be fired without just cause. The tenure process can take up to seven years of moving up the ranks in tenure-track positions. The ranks are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Tenure is granted through a review of the candidate’s research, contribution to the institution, and teaching abilities. However, institutions are relying more heavily on limited-term and part-time faculty contracts.
Pros and cons of being a college English teacher
- Becoming an expert in a specialized area of literature like Shakespearean playwriting or the study of Greek tragedies
- Working with young adults who share a passion for English language arts, either as a future career choice or as a gateway to other professions
- Finding opportunities to publish, including literary fiction, autobiographical and nonfiction writing, and work toward tenure
- Cultivating collaborative relationships with other professionals by attending conferences, symposiums, and visiting instructor exchange programs devoted to English language arts best practices
- Teaching college students is demanding and requires long hours devoted to course preparation, reading and grading essays and short stories
- The sometimes bureaucratic policies on campuses of higher learning can be frustrating for English teachers, who may feel inhibited by structured environments that limit the creative process
- Competition to achieve tenure and get published is intense at most postsecondary schools, and the competitive nature of literary publishing requires persistence and fortitude
- Salaries for college professors are relatively low compared to some college graduates with English degrees who can earn higher wages in the private and government sectors
Professional development for English teachers
English teachers seeking professional development can greatly benefit from learning to leverage computers. For example, word processing and graphics software programs enhance multimedia demonstrations and classroom presentations, which in turn facilitate learning by captivating audiences.
Professional associations for English instructors offer webinars, correspondence courses, one-day seminars, symposiums and other continuing education platforms to help teachers advance their knowledge of English literature and writing subjects, improve teaching skills and broaden their scope of educational best practices. These are terrific opportunities to enhance one’s understanding of English language arts concepts while meeting like-minded professionals and improving a resume, LinkedIn page or other professional social media profile.
For teachers interested in pursuing advanced degrees, English is ideally suited as a supplement to journalism, archaeology, marketing, public relations, web publishing and various research-oriented professions, like librarians and website archivists.
English teachers contemplating graduate studies should consider a program specific to their area of teaching. Primary incentives include expanding knowledge of particular subjects — like composition, play writing, speech therapy, English as a second language (ESL) — while remaining competitive in the job market.
Benefits of continuing education for English teachers
BLS statistics reflect that professionals with a master’s degree have a greater chance for promotions and an increase in salaries. This is particularly true for teachers. The difference in salary between a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree for a novice teacher is $3,000 annually. After 10 years of experience, salaries increase to an average of $4,500, according to BLS data.
Continuing education is a great way to keep a career on track, expand knowledge, remain competitive, and increase one’s real value in the jobs market.
What kinds of graduate programs can help English teachers?
Studies reveal strong, positive correlations between a teacher’s subject-specific expertise and student achievement. These findings suggest that not all degrees are created equal, and that English teachers seeking graduate studies should look for programs that help elevate their English subject expertise.
For English teachers who are considering a master’s degree, three primary considerations are grade level, curriculum and educational leadership.
- English teachers may want to expand their early childhood development knowledge with a master’s degree that focuses on this area.
- Literacy development is a popular and important subject for students at all levels, from preschool to K-12, to adult education for ESL learners.
- Special education is a growing area of concern at all levels of education, with new programs developed to address the needs of students with physical, cognitive and learning disabilities.
- Educational leadership roles exist for school principals, district supervisors and various administrative positions in private companies, public agencies and educational institutions.
Concordia University-Portland’s MEd in Curriculum and Instruction: English Language Development concentration alleviates many challenges associated with teaching English. The program is designed to:
- Study essential linguistics: learn and understand how to teach basic language structures and processes.
- Teach essential linguistics: make decisions on important language areas such as phonics, spelling, and grammar.
- Study language acquisition: focus on transformational teaching techniques and learning strategies for all learners.
- Teach language acquisition: take a procedural approach to teaching with a developmental and constructivist framework.
Professional associations for English teachers
Jobs available to English teachers beyond teaching
Numerous jobs are available for English teachers among employers seeking strong writers who have good verbal communication and research skills. These positions require tactfulness and diplomacy, with the ability to work on cross-functional teams and offer productive feedback to colleagues and executives at various levels. Strong writing, proofreading and editing skills are also highly valued by employers.
- Editor for a magazine or trade journal
- Website editor, content producer or developer
- Account executive for a public relations firm, marketing department or advertising agency
- Technical writer for science, pharmaceutical, technology or engineering company
- Teaching abroad to English language learners
- Academic researcher or writer for a private or public college or university
Best of the Web: our favorite English teacher websites and Twitter handles
The web is ideal for English teachers as a tool for research, lesson planning and presentations. Here are some useful websites and Twitter resources:
Favorite English teacher websites
Favorite English teacher Twitter handlesLearn More: Click to view related resources.
- "English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013
- "Occupational Outlook for Middle School Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Middle School Teachers
- "Occupational Outlook for High School Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, High School Teachers
- "Occupational Outlook for Postsecondary Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Postsecondary Teachers
- "The Value of a Master’s Degree for Teachers: Better Student Outcomes," Concordia University – Portland
There have been a great number of changes in education systems worldwide recently. However, in Europe we have experienced a great change with the enlargement of the European Union and its consequences. The European Union has published several papers on the future of education, both at compulsory and higher education levels1. In this essay we are going to examine the influence of the changes and its consequences on teachers in compulsory education.
If we aim to have a closer look at the characteristic features of the changes, we have to examine what they are. What everybody can see at first sight is that not only European societies, but also their schools went through relevant changes. Schools used to be the source of knowledge, a place where children were educated more or less without parental control. Schools used to prepare learners for exams (both final exams in secondary education and entrance exams for university admissions). Thus, teaching was mostly exam preparation or exam training, especially in the final years of the secondary schools.
Together with the changes, new expectations appeared towards our schools. Nowadays schools need to teach their learners how to gain information and how to select and use them. This happens so quickly that students learn how to use the Internet together with their teachers. Parents are involved in decision-making so they take part in the life of the school. It is no longer enough to send the kids to school in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon. Parents have to have a view of what is happening in the educational institution. Exam preparation is still important, but for example in Hungary the entrance exams are ‘past tense', the final examinations (matura) have changed, and the concept of learning to learn has slowly become a very important element of teachers' job.
The changes that took place in schools have changed theroles of teachers, too. In the past teachers used to be the major source of knowledge, the leader and educator of their students' school life. Teachers would organise after-school activities. They used to be the authority in the class and often took over the role of parents. Nowadays, teachers provide information and show their students how to tackle them. Although they are still considered to be a kind of leader in the class, they can be thought of as facilitators in the learning process. They are supporters rather than educators and also advisors towards parents.
If we focus on the teaching process, we still realise that there are a great number of changes in this field as well, and all of them have an influence on the role of teachers. First of all, teachers in modern classrooms are no longer lecturers, they are facilitators, their main task is to set goals and organise the learning process accordingly. Then, in the past, teachers used to follow a syllabus which was compulsory for them. Nowadays, teachers have a National Curriculum, a Core Curriculum and a local (school) curriculum that they have to consider, but - on the other hand - they have independence to choose the teaching materials (textbook), make up a syllabus of their own and teach their pupils so that they can perform well both at examinations and in life. Curriculum design is a task teachers have to be prepared for, although the present generation of teachers has been growing into making up syllabi for years.
Another difference between the past and present tasks of teachers is represented by the technical background they need to be able to use and handle effectively (computer, photocopier, power point, projectors, etc). Instead of teaching chalk face, they need to be an information technology expert, a technician or/and a photocopy master.
One of the biggest challenges for teachers is that their role in the school management has also changed. The school needs them as individuals, who can make decisions and cope with the stress of the changing world of schools. At the same time teachers need to be able to work in teams, co-operate with colleagues and parents, they have to write projects to gain money for the school programmes, they have to be PR experts and need to do all these things for a modest monthly income.
The main question is how these changes manifest themselves for the society, for the participants (teachers, learners, parents) of education. One of the mentioned European Union documents deals with teachers' role in the changing process.2 This summarises the characteristic features of future teachers who are to face a brand new situation in future education. According to the document, teachers realize the changes, but it is not sure whether they are able to face the new requirements or not. In the EU documents, a great emphasis is placed on both initial and in-service teacher education programs which are to prepare teachers to meet new demands.
Teachers' knowledge base
All the above-mentioned changes have a common root. They show that it is not enough for teachers to be masters of their profession ; they also have to be the artist of it. But what is the difference between a master and an artist ? How can a teacher be both ? What are the characteristic features of god or bad teachers/teaching ? This is an evergreen question which often cannot be answered without understanding the real contexts of teaching. However, researchers have examined and described the different components of teachers' knowledge (like Roberts : 1998), the characteristic features of teachers (Hargreaves & Fullan : 1992, Falus : 1998). They have come up with the importance of content knowledge (teachers' subjects), pedagogic content knowledge (how to adapt content to the learners), general pedagogic knowledge (e.g. classroom management), curricular knowledge, contextual knowledge (the context of teaching : community expectations) and process knowledge (learning skills, observation skills, etc.). Among the characteristic features, cooperation, flexibility and the ability to relate learners appear rather important.
Teachers' needs and expectations
In the first years of the 21st century, 500 teachers have been asked to fill in a questionnaire about their teaching practices and professional needs in the southern region of Hungary3. The teachers were subject teachers of foreign languages and primary classroom teachers prepared for foreign language teaching to young learners. The main aim was to explore the differences in the ideas and practices of language teachers with different training backgrounds. Three hundred and twenty-five questionnaires were returned and a small section of the r esults will be presented here. The questionnaire included two groups of questions which aimed to reveal teacher's thoughts on the characteristic features of a good language teacher and their teaching arsenal (methods and aids they use). They were also asked about the professional needs of practising teachers. We would like to give a glance on the relationship between the answers of practising teachers and the image of future teachers in EU documents.
Surwey Question No. 4 : What are the characteristic features of good language teachers ?
On answering this question, teachers were asked to mark the 5 most important features of good language teachers out of 16. About half of the offered answers were characteristic features of teachers in general. Most teachers marked elements like good teachers ‘can explain well', ‘use relevant teaching aids', ‘make the learners work hard', ‘prepare for the lessons', ‘teach about the target language culture', etc. Teachers showed priority to content knowledge (their subject) over the general characteristic features like ‘empathy' or ‘creativity‘.
More precisely, out of all the received answers, 50 % of the teachers marked only characteristic features of a language teacher (rather than general pedagogic features). About 90 % marked ‘good target language competence'. If we examine the elements provided for teachers to choose one by one, we can see that 82 % of respondents think good language teaching methodology is very important. ‘Openness' and ‘empathy' were among the 5 most important features only in 32-34 % of the answers. The characteristic features of modern professional teachers such as open character, empathy, motivation, etc. were ranked at the back of the list. The questionnaire results reveal that language teachers think that content knowledge is by far the most important, while pedagogic knowledge and methodology are not so relevant. It is a striking point in the light of the European Union documents and, also, according to some Hungarian experts who write about the most important features of teaches. Bárdos (1985), for example, as early as 1985, expressed very similar ideas to the EU documents. He says that the characteristic features of teachers shine through their content knowledge and determine the quality of teaching. Other Hungarian researchers like Mihály (2002), Petneki (2002), Poór (2003) and Nikolov (2003) - at the time of data collection - summarise the expectations towards future teachers, and they claim that future teachers need to be open towards the needs of the learners ; they should be innovative and creative.
Survey Question No. 5 : What are teachers' needs in in-service teacher training ?
First we thought that the answer to this question would show how much teachers are aware of the fact that education and society and the requirements towards teaching are in the process of change. According to the questionnaire results, teachers think that computer skills are very important for them (47 % of the answers would need a good computer course). It is also interesting that 43 % of the answerers (who are foreign language teachers by profession) think they need to learn of another foreign language. About 31 % of the answers say that an up-to-date foreign language teaching methodology course could be useful, and 27 % would like to improve their target language skills. About one third of the answerers think that syllabus-design (planning), textbook evaluation and classroom techniques are necessary for their development as practising teachers. Another interesting feature of the answers was that 29 % of the teachers would need self-management training.
Some of the answers (computer skills, methodology course, etc.) will definitely be very important in the future, and some of them are already part of our everyday teaching life (computer skills and foreign languages). They refer to the fact that teachers are mostly interested in practical, 'right-into-teaching' skills. These answers also reveal that the answerers are not very good at computing and they do not speak (more than one) foreign languages.
On the other hand, we can say that skills and competences which seem to be fairly important in the near future in education do not really appear among the needs of practising teachers. As we asked and interviewed some final year undergraduates as well in the data collection process, we can say that there are no significant differences between the needs of practising teachers and teachers-to-be undergraduates. Neither of the groups of teachers feels that convertible and renewable content knowledge, open and pedagogically well-trained teachers are the key figures of the future education.
Teacher Education for the Future
In my view, teacher education - rather than teacher training - needs to change in the near future. Some experts say it is too late to begin the changes, as we need new competencies in teaching right now. However, if teacher education in Hungary follows its best tradition, and it remains practical, flexible and child-centred, there is a hope that the next generation of learners will get the support and skills they need in life during their schooling years from their own teachers.
The need of a generation of teachers who aim to develop learners instead of teaching them, who help their pupils to become independent (learning to learn), who provide students with motivation and interest for life-long learning and urge them to become autonomous learners, is essential in the education of the future.
The responsibility of governments, higher education institutions, and mostly teacher educators both in pre-and in-service education, is huge. European Union member states take part in several projects which help us to prepare for taking the responsibility in achieving relevant change.
BÁRDOS Jenő (1985) A kreatív tanári személyiség Pedagógiai Szemle 1985/7-8. 753-759
FALUS Iván (1998). Didaktika Budapest : Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó
HARGREAVES, A. & M.G.FULLAN (1992). Understanding Teacher Development.
MIHÁLY Ildikó (2002) Pedagógusok a változ(tat)ás kihívásai közepette Új Pedagógiai Szemle 2002/4 79-88
NIKOLOV Marianne (2003) Az idegennyelv-tanítás megújulásának hatásai Új Pedagógiai Szemle 2003. március 46-57. old.
PETNEKI Katalin (2002) Az idegen nyelvek tanításának helyzete és fejlesztésének feladatai
Új Pedagógiai Szemle 2002/7-8 p. 147-160
POÓR Zoltán (2003) Pedagógusképzés és továbbképzés a változó pedagógusszerepek tükrében
Új Pedagógiai Szemle 2003/5 pp. 50-54
ROBERTS, J. (1998) Language Teacher Education, London : Arnold •
UJLAKYNE SZUCS Éva (2005) Language Teacher Training for Lower Primary Classes in Hungary In : Forschungs und Entwicklungsarbeit band 5 of the PÄDAK Krems "lehre durch forschung/ research in teacher education national/international "pp. 615-623
Common European Principles for Teacher Competences and Qualifications
Teachers for Tomorrow's Schools (1993)
1 See Sources.
2 'Teachers meeting the challenge of change' 1998. www.teachnet.gov.uk ; see other in sources.
3 Ujlakyné Szűcs Éva (2006), The Role of ELT Teacher Training to Young Learners in Lower Primary Teacher Education, Unpublished PhD dissertation.