How to Become an EAL Teacher (With Salary and Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 March 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Teaching English as an additional language (EAL) is a rewarding career that offers candidates the opportunity to work with a wide range of people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Candidates who enjoy connecting with students can benefit from a career as an EAL teacher. Understanding how to become an EAL teacher can help you make more informed career choices and encourage you to take the steps to achieve your career goals. In this article, we discuss how to become an EAL teacher, including a guide to necessary qualifications, common duties, average salary and relevant skills.

What is an EAL teacher?

An EAL teacher is an educator who specialises in working with students who don't have English as a first or second language. These students are refugees, migrants or students on exchange or international programs. EAL teachers help students gain a comprehensive understanding of the English language, including lessons on culture. EAL teachers may work with students who have left their home country because of security and safety concerns, so it's important they know how to provide a safe and enjoyable learning environment. Teachers build trust with students by providing interactive and accessible lessons based on educational theory.

Teachers may target specific areas of the English language, such as speaking, listening or writing. EAL teachers work to achieve specific learning targets designated by their employers. For example, a common goal for an EAL teacher is to help students learn to navigate English-speaking countries with confidence.

Related: How to Become a Special Education Teacher (With FAQs)

How to become an EAL teacher

Here's a guide showing you how to become an EAL teacher:

1. Gain an education

Most institutions expect candidates to have a basic primary or secondary education teaching degree. These qualifications equip candidates with the knowledge and practical experience to teach a class of children. Students may be required to complete a minimum number of placement hours in the chosen age group before graduating. Gaining a teaching degree is also essential to gaining registered status as a teacher in Australia.

Teacher education provides students with an opportunity to specialise in their chosen subject and gain a more comprehensive understanding of how to teach in an accessible and engaging manner. Extensive education may provide you with more competitive working opportunities and impress future employers.

2. Consider a postgraduate degree

Postgraduate degrees in education may substantially improve your chances of success when applying for an EAL teaching position. Postgraduate qualification shows a level of expertise that may provide more competitive benefits, like higher pay. It also gives you an opportunity to develop your understanding of critical learning frameworks that may help you develop your own curriculum. Postgraduate qualification in English as a foreign or secondary language can help you understand the specific techniques for helping students understand and incorporate the English language into their lives.

Postgraduate study in this subject may also give you the chance to work and train with students who are learning how to speak English, which can give you a better understanding of a school's expectations for EAL teachers.

Related: How to Become an Educator (With Tips for Specialising)

3. Apply for an EAL teaching position

When you apply for EAL teaching positions, ensure that your resume showcases the hard and soft skills necessary to teach students who don't speak English. For example, you may talk about a challenge you had in the classroom and how you overcame it. This can help an employer match you to the job description and increase your chances of success. You may mention any previous experience that makes you a suitable candidate for working with students who may find adopting new cultures and languages difficult.

Related: How to Become a Teacher (Including FAQs)

The average salary of an EAL teacher

The national average salary for an EAL teacher is $81,664 per year. The salary can vary, depending on the age group, type of class they teach and school where they teach. Pay can also vary, depending on the level of qualification an EAL teacher has. These professionals may also earn different amounts if they teach internationally.

EAL teacher duties

These professionals fulfil many roles in a single day and their duties vary, depending on the type of students they teach and their background. Their duties may also depend on the type of school they work for. Here's a list of common EAL teaching duties:

  • Creating lesson plans: To prepare for teaching, teachers prepare comprehensive lesson plans. These lesson plans detail what material the teacher plans to cover.

  • Constructing interactive working materials: EAL teachers prepare interactive working materials like worksheets, presentations, videos and activities to make learning exciting for students. Interactive working materials help students gain a better understanding of the topic and form more positive relationships with learning.

  • Making lessons accessible: Since EAL teachers may teach students who haven't lived in an English-speaking country, it's important for them to make all learning materials as accessible as possible. This helps build trust and helps students better understand the core learning objectives.

  • Ensuring content meets standards: Schools may set standards and targets for listening, speaking and writing in English. This means that they require teachers to ensure that all lessons meet these standards and are effective.

  • Monitoring participation: As a part of delivering more constructive lessons, teachers monitor progress and participation in class. This helps teachers gain a better understanding of how the students are doing, how they're coping with lessons and whether they're meeting expected milestones.

  • Grading work: Teachers monitor progress by grading home and in-class work. This requires teachers to analyse all completed work to identify areas of significant improvement and any areas where the student can continue to learn.

  • Developing learning frameworks and targets: EAL teachers may work with schools to establish individual learning frameworks designed to gain the most reward. They can base these frameworks on academic theory and research, targeting engagement and learning designs that have the most impact on students.

Related: How to Become an English as a Second Language Teacher (with FAQ)

EAL teacher skills

EAL teachers use a combination of hard and soft skills to deliver effective and engaging lessons to their students. Here's a list of soft and hard skills that EAL teachers may use:

Hard skills

Hard skills refer to industry-specific skills that allow EAL teachers to deliver high quality, fact-based lessons that have a positive impact on a student's language skills. Hard skills are the typical minimum expectation of EAL teaching candidates and may include:

  • Numeracy: As part of the learning process and depending on the year group, EAL teachers may help students with their numeracy skills. This can help students progress into mainstream education after they complete their English classes.

  • English literature and language: Understanding basic language devices and popular literature can help teachers deliver well-informed and exciting lessons. Knowing how to analyse text can provide students with a more comprehensive understanding of the English language and help them progress faster in their studies.

  • Child behavioural psychology: Teachers use knowledge of child behavioural psychology to navigate instances of frustration or notice signs of challenging behavioural patterns. This can help EAL teachers adjust their lessons to their student's needs and deliver more constructive teaching.

  • Theory of teaching: Teachers use basic teaching practices to plan effective lessons for their students. This includes understanding what teaching devices are most effective for certain topics and how to engage students who struggle to meet learning targets.

Soft skills

Soft skills refer to interpersonal skills that allow teachers to build productive and healthy relationships with their students. Soft skills are important to building good communications and trust that enable a positive teaching and learning environment. These skills may include:

  • Compassion: Compassion is an important attribute to teaching English as an additional language, since students may sometimes become frustrated by lack of or slow progress. This skill is important for building trusting relationships and guiding students through challenges.

  • Patience: Teaching students who don't speak the same language can be a slow process. This requires teachers to be patient and understanding of their students' circumstances to remain focused on their learning objectives.

  • Empathy: EAL teachers may work with students from challenging backgrounds, like refugees or asylum seekers. There may be times where students come to their teacher for advice or guidance, and empathic skills may help a teacher more thoughtfully address their concerns.

  • Communication: To deliver constructive lessons, teachers focus on communication. This helps lessons remain clear and also promotes better working relationships with their students.

  • Stamina: Teaching requires professionals to remain on their feet for many hours a day, which can become tiring. Stamina helps teachers remain enthused and communicative throughout a long day at work.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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