A Masters in English as a Second Language is a degree which can open a huge number of doors for you, not only in job opportunities but in chances to travel to far-flung and interesting destinations around the world. Being the language of international business, there’s a massive demand for capable English teachers who can teach English as a second language – both at home, in English speaking countries, and abroad in regions of the world like Asia and the Middle East.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking a Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language (otherwise known as an MA in TESL, for short) will put you on easy street. Although the demand is high and the perks are often great, this can be a very demanding role. You’ll find it easier, though, if you choose the right Masters program.
The Best Masters in English as a Second Language Programs
Not many of the big universities offer a Masters in English as a Second Language program. To get one of these qualifications, you’re better to go with a smaller specialized language school or one of the few quality universities that has a program. (As always, be careful to check accreditation before you sign up for a program – there are many dubious ‘schools’ in this market which have no authority to hand out qualifications of value).
Vanderbilt University is arguably the best school in the US offering a Masters degree Teaching English as a Second Language.
Concordia University in Portland is another one of the larger universities offering a quality Masters in English as a Second Language Program.
The Boston Language Institute has been operating for over three decades and is one of the more respected smaller schools where you can study TESL. The Institute has been running TESL programs for a long time and they’re able to adapt your program according to your career plans (for instance, depending on whether you want to travel or teach at home).
Boston University itself also runs an excellent program for masters in English as a second language.
Masters in English as a Second Language Online
This is a subject that lends itself well to online study, however, be warned – if you get your entire degree online, you will find it quite a shock the first time you have to teach in a classroom environment. It’s always preferably to find an online degree that will include an internship or some other form of in-class experience before you take on a full-time job (some schools in Asia will employ you with a TESL degree, even if you have no actual teaching experience).
The Arizona State University Masters of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in ESL is probably your best bet for a quality online degree. Another legitimate program can be found at Western Governors University. Again, be careful with online degrees in this field because it’s particularly targeted by scammers.
What to Do With Your Masters Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language
As I’ve already alluded to, you have two main options once you’re certified to teach English as a second language: you can teach in your home country, or travel abroad and teach in a country like Japan or Saudi Arabia.
If you choose to travel, Asia and the Middle East are the areas where the demand is highest and the money is best. Japan and Korea in particular pay well if you can get a good contract, and the same applies to Saudi Arabia. You can get an English teaching job in many others countries throughout Southeast Asia and South America, although don’t expect to save much if you head to these destinations – most teaching salaries in these parts of the world will cover your expenses and not much more. They’re more suited to a working holiday.
In your own country, you are best to apply to work at a language school. You can also freelance as a tutor. With a masters in English as a second language you can specialize in teaching business English to adults, or focus on teaching kids who have migrated to your country.