The English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself.
— Derek Walcott
The United States has no official language, but English is the de facto language spoken by millions of native speakers. For both citizens and noncitizen residents, many of whom speak a foreign language at home, the pressure to speak fluent English is immense. There is a strong correlation between English fluency and quality of life, and individuals who lack English proficiency can experience numerous social, economic, and educational hardships. Learning English, although challenging, offers immigrants and other English language learners (ELLs) the chance to integrate into American society.
Bilingual and English as a second language (ESL) teachers are tasked with nurturing the English language skills of their students while ensuring that their needs are met. This rewarding, challenging career requires the expertise of trained professionals, and although aspiring educators may have the skills needed to lead a classroom, they may not know which classroom setting will be the best match for their unique abilities.
Career Options for Professionals With a Master’s Degree
The career path of a bilingual or ESL teacher depends largely on their background and education. While aspiring educators can teach ELLs without a degree, those who earn a Master of Arts in Bilingual/ESL Education will have a higher earning potential and brighter professional outlook. Let’s explore these two degree options and the potential careers that await graduates.
MA in ESL Education
This degree is ideal for educators who are not bilingual but would nonetheless like to teach ELL students. English is the only language taught in ESL classrooms, as students from different countries and cultures are taught to read, write, and speak the language. The idea is that students will learn English at an accelerated rate if it’s the only language they’re exposed to in the classroom. These teachers can have a tremendous impact on students’ educational and career trajectories, and all that’s needed to fulfill this role is an MA in ESL education.
By earning an MA in ESL education, aspiring professionals can qualify for positions teaching ELL children and adults. For example, adult ESL instructors help students develop English language skills essential in both the workplace and their daily lives. Traditionally, ESL educators are found in K-12 classrooms, where they develop lesson plans, monitor students’ progress, and empower students on their academic journey. ESL teachers earn an average base salary of $51,027 per year. Additional career options for graduates of MA in ESL education programs include:
- K-12 ESL teacher
- Education coordinator
- Postsecondary instructor
- ESL teacher abroad
MA in Bilingual Education
For aspiring educators fluent in a foreign language, an MA in bilingual education can open the door to a rewarding and lucrative career. Bilingual educators teach students in both their native and target language, as opposed to other ESL teachers who may discourage use of students’ native language in the classroom. With the help of a teacher who fosters an inclusive learning environment, ELLs in bilingual classrooms have a better chance of becoming fluent in both languages.
Professionals holding an MA in bilingual education have the same career options as ESL educators. However, their unique skill set makes them invaluable in K-12 settings, especially since bilingual teachers are in short supply across the country. According to USA Today News, over 30 states are experiencing critical shortages of ESL teachers, with many school districts grooming bilingual teachers in the hopes that they’ll become certified instructors. Moreover, bilingual educators earn an average base salary of $53,640 per year, with top earners making as much as $66,000 per year.
If you’re interested in teaching a school subject such as math, science, or social studies in a student’s first language, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding career path.
Earn an MA in Bilingual/ESL Education From UT Permian Basin
The number of ELL students has surged in recent years, and an estimated 4.9 million children in K-12 schools are now learning English. Throughout the South and Midwest, areas that saw few of these students at the start of the millennium are seeing a dramatic increase in enrollment. The largest increase was here in Texas, with an additional 350,000 ELL students having enrolled since 2000.
The University of Texas Permian Basin offers an online MA in bilingual/ESL education program that can help you qualify for in-demand teaching positions and pass on your language skills to a growing number of ELLs. Through our program, you’ll learn to foster an inclusive learning environment, implement effective instructional methods, and identify language proficiency levels in speaking, reading, and writing. This 36-credit online program can be completed in as little as one year and can be tailored with one of two online concentrations:
- Master of Arts in Bilingual Education
- Master of Arts in ESL Education
Students may qualify for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, which provides up to $4,000 per year to students who are completing coursework needed to begin a career in high-need teaching fields. Graduates of our MA in bilingual program also have the option to sit for the Texas Bilingual Supplemental Exam, as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements. In every aspect, our online program is an affordable, convenient way for you to pivot into a new career and apply your knowledge and skills where they’re needed most. Apply now to our online MA in bilingual/ESL education program to discover how rewarding the field of bilingual/ESL education can be.