What Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers Do
Adult education and ESL teachers use different teaching strategies to meet their students’ needs.
Adult basic and secondary education and ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers instruct adults in fundamental skills, such as reading, writing, and speaking English. They also help students earn their high school equivalency credential.
Adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers typically do the following:
- Plan and teach lessons to help students gain the knowledge and skills needed to earn their high school equivalency credential
- Adapt teaching methods based on students’ strengths and weaknesses
- Emphasize skills that will help students find jobs, such as learning English words and common phrases used in the workplace
- Assess students for learning disabilities
- Monitor students’ progress
- Help students develop study skills
- Connect students to other resources in their community, such as job placement services
Students’ educational level and skills are assessed before they enter these programs. Teachers may conduct the assessments; however, sometimes another staff member assesses students. Based on the results of the assessment and the student’s goals, teachers develop an education plan.
Teachers must formally evaluate their students periodically to determine their progress and potential to go on to the next level of classes. However, teachers may informally evaluate their students’ progress continually.
Adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers often have students of various ability levels in their classes. As a result, these teachers need to use different strategies to meet the needs of all of their students. They may work with students in classes or teach them one-on-one.
There are three types of education that adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers provide:
Adult basic education (ABE) classes teach students the basics of reading, writing, and math. The students generally are age 16 or older and need to gain proficiency in these skills to improve their job situation. Teachers prepare students for further education and help them to develop skills that they will need in the workplace. For example, they may teach students how to write a resume.
Adult secondary education classes prepare students to take the test to earn a high school equivalency credential. Some programs are combined with career preparation programs so that students can earn a high school equivalency and a career-related credential at the same time.
The high school equivalency exam is composed of four subjects: language arts, math, science, and social studies. In addition to teaching these subjects, teachers also help their students improve their skills in communicating, critical thinking, and problem solving—skills they will need in preparing for further education and successful careers.
English as a Second Language (ESL), also called English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), classes teach students to read, write, and speak English. Students in these classes are immigrants to the United States or those whose native language is not English. ESL teachers may have students from many different countries and cultures in their classroom. Because the ESL teacher and the students may not share a common native language, ESL teachers must be creative with their communication in the classroom.
ESL teachers often focus on helping their students with practical vocabulary for jobs and daily living. They also may focus on preparing their students to take the citizenship exam.