How English as a Second Language Affects Learning

Empowering ESL Students to Learn and Grow, Paving the Way for Success

In the past 20 years—according to the U.S. Department of Education—the number of students with different language backgrounds in the United States has increased by one million. As our country becomes increasingly diverse, it presents a unique challenge for teachers, parents, and students alike: acquiring good English proficiency.

Educators know that proficient English language skills are vital for success in America. So, schools are looking for teachers with specialized skills, training, and cultural sensitivity to ensure that all students have access to quality education. By prioritizing English language proficiency and investing in teachers who can help students achieve it, academic institutions can empower all students to succeed.

Benefits of Learning English as a Second Language

Unlocking the power of English as a second language offers a gateway to personal growth and fulfillment—equipping students with the tools to take their personal and professional lives to new heights. By learning English, students can:

  • join the global community and communicate effectively across all continents, as English is the most widely spoken language in the world
  • get a better job in the modern economy, as basic proficiency expands employment opportunities, unlocking positions that would otherwise be out of reach
  • increase their chances of securing admission to top colleges and universities, which are mostly situated in English-speaking countries
  • improve their cognitive and verbal skills, allowing students to express themselves in different ways and understand diverse perspectives
  • discover new entertainment options like popular movies, TV shows, and music

Challenges Faced by ESL Learners

English language teachers play a crucial role in guiding English as a Second Language (ESL) students throughout their language-learning journey. By identifying the obstacles that may hinder their progress, teachers can provide targeted assistance to help students overcome challenges and succeed. Whether it’s through personalized language instruction, constructive feedback, or creating a supportive classroom environment, ESL teachers can make a significant difference in their students’ academic and personal growth.

Common challenges include: 

  • Misunderstandings and Miscommunications — Students may have varying customs, beliefs, and communication styles that can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications. To address this, teachers should provide cultural awareness activities that promote understanding and respect for different cultures.
  • Lack of Confidence — Students who lack confidence in their English language skills may hesitate to participate in class, which can limit their opportunities to practice. To assist these students, teachers should create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment that fosters a safe space for practice and improvement.
  • Limited Vocabulary — Students with limited English proficiency may find it difficult to communicate effectively. Regular vocabulary instruction and practice opportunities can help these students comprehend and express themselves, both orally and in writing.
  • Lack of Motivation — In order to keep students motivated during the language learning journey, teachers need to discover ways to make the learning process relevant, interesting, and enjoyable.

The Rising Need for ESL Training

English learners comprise one of the fastest-growing student populations in the United States. However, the number of specialized educators supporting them isn’t keeping pace.

As English-speaking countries work to provide equal opportunities to all individuals, the role of ESL teachers has become critical in ensuring that language barriers do not impede the progress and success of those trying to establish a better life. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately one-third of U.S. schools offering bilingual or ESL programs face staffing challenges—meaning the demand for ESL teachers has become prevalent in all types of learning settings, including public schools and higher education establishments in the U.S. and beyond.

Career Outlook for ESL Graduates 

In today’s globalized world, English has become the universal language of communication. As a result, the demand for English proficiency and skilled ESL teachers has skyrocketed. Zippia reports that in 2024, the average salary of an ESL teacher in the United States is $52,701, with salaries ranging between $42,000 and $72,000.

These educators are highly valuable and needed in various environments to help overcome language barriers and provide non-native English speakers with the opportunity to learn and speak English fluently. By becoming an ESL teacher, you can make a difference in people’s lives, help them achieve their goals, and earn a competitive salary.

Make a Difference in the Lives of English Language Learners

If you’re a PreK-12 teacher looking to enhance your current credentials, the University of Cincinnati offers an online PreK-12 Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Endorsement program at reduced tuition rates. Offered fully online in response to the growing population of English language learners in U.S. classrooms—and the academic demand at national and international levels—this program provides students with critical hands-on instructional experiences necessary to be competitive in the job market.

So, are you ready to learn more? Explore our MEd in Literacy and Second Language Studies program or connect with a UC Online advisor to take your first step toward a brighter future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does English as a second language affect a child’s development?

Learning English as a second language offers many benefits for a child’s development. It enhances their thinking and problem-solving skills, making them more adaptable and able to handle different tasks easily. Being bilingual also boosts children’s confidence and helps them understand their own identity better, as they connect with multiple cultures.

Additionally, knowing more than one language provides practical advantages. It prepares children for a globalized world, giving them an edge in future studies and careers by improving their ability to communicate. This skill also makes them more culturally aware and able to work well with people from different backgrounds.

Overall, speaking multiple languages is increasingly important and beneficial, helping children grow into more competent and empathetic global citizens.

What are the 3 key ESOL strategies?

By implementing these strategies, ESL teachers can help their students achieve success in their language learning journey.

  1. Engage your students with multiple opportunities for structured and unstructured talk.
  2. Encourage your students to collaborate with each other.
  3. Transform your lessons with open-ended questions and spark curiosity.

What qualifications do I need to teach English as a second language?

If you aspire to become an ESL teacher, it’s crucial to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, focusing on education, writing, English, or teaching English as a foreign language. Keep in mind that like other teachers, ESL teachers require a license to qualify for a professional position. You might want to take note that the requirements may differ depending on the state or country you plan to work in. Hence, conducting thorough research in advance is the key to making a wise decision and securing your dream job.

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