Great Places to Teach as an ESL/TESOL Teacher in 2017

Back in 2014, we published a piece featuring the top 10 cities for young teachers. Since then, one of the more notable changes in the American education landscape has been the significant rise in students for whom English is not their native language. Naturally, where there are students, there is a demand for great teachers!

Rather than seeking international opportunities, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) can take advantage of the growing demand for their services here at home. Here are three districts worth having on the radar if you are looking to teach English Language Learners (ELLs).

Seattle, Washington

The Demand: Seattle’s public school system serves over 53,000 students with over 5,000 of those students receiving support from ELL programs. There are over 120 home languages spoken by students attending Seattle Public Schools making it a truly diverse district in need of quality teachers to ensure all students are given the opportunity to learn.

Compensation: Seattle’s salaries are fairly competitive (thanks in part to a funding formula that combines state and local funding) and rank on the higher side when compared to other districts in the state. The absence of a state income tax is another factor worth considering!

The Perks: If you are qualified as a TESOL, don’t sleep on Seattle! While the climate and weather may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Washington is one of the most committed states when it comes to supporting a growing ELL population. Also worth considering are the benefits that come with Seattle’s amazing blend of chic urban living and the potential for breathtaking outdoor adventures.

Find out more about what it takes to become a teacher in Washington.

Salem, Massachusetts

The Demand: The Salem public school system offers a comprehensive ELL program that serves students from Kindergarten through high school graduation. ESL students comprise 12.7% of the district’s population and come from diverse homes representing 37 different native languages.

Massachusetts is seeing a rise in the state’s ESL population and, as such, is coming to grips with the need to bolster and diversify programs for ELL students statewide. In the summer of 2016, a bill passed the state Senate with unanimous bipartisan support to revamp the state’s approach to ELL students and is now working its way toward final approval. This law will surely lead to an increase in the demand for ESL teachers while also setting the stage for innovative and effective new practices.

Compensation: At an average of just over $74,000 a year in 2015, teachers in Salem earned a competitive salary compared to other districts nationwide but tend to fall near the middle of the pack compared to other districts in the state.

However, the recently negotiated contract also contains benefits like a generous, gender neutral parental leave and opportunities for tuition reimbursement for special education and ELL courses offered at local Salem State University.

The Perks:  Salem is a historically rich coastal community with plenty to see and do. For city-lovers, Boston is just a quick 30-minute train ride (or longer, more scenic ferry ride) away! What’s more, Salem regularly comes in near the top of lists ranking the most affordable Boston suburbs. Salem is perfect for teachers just starting out or looking for a cost-effective place to raise a family in the Northeast.

Find out more about what it takes to become a teacher in Massachusetts.

Austin, Texas

The Demand: The Austin Independent School District serves over 83,000 students representing families that speak more than 94 different home languages. Over 25% of the district’s students enter the district receiving some type of ELL services.

Due to the incredible demand for services and programs to support ELL students, Austin ISD has a robust and multi-faceted approach to try and address the opportunity gap that is so often created between native English speakers and those coming from a different home language background.

Compensation: Teaching in the Austin ISD won’t make you rich, but since Texas collects no state income tax, teachers are taking home more of their hard-earned dollars than if they choose to work in other states that do.

The Perks: The cost of living in Austin is higher than most places, but that higher cost comes with some unique features and atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else. Austin is notoriously one of the strangest cities in the United States, but it is also one of the most culturally rich and exciting. There are countless things to do both indoors and out. If you are looking for a place with a high demand for ELL educators, plenty of sun, and a seemingly endless array of potential adventures, Austin, Texas has you covered!

Find out more about what it takes to become a teacher in Texas.

Sheldon Soper is a New Jersey middle school teacher with over a decade of classroom experience teaching students to read, write, and problem-solve across multiple grade levels. He holds teaching certifications in English, Social Studies, and Elementary Education as well as Bachelor's and Master's degrees in the field of education. In addition to his teaching career, Sheldon is also a content writer for a variety of education, technology, and parenting focused websites. You can follow Sheldon on Twitter @SoperWritings.

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