What Is ESL? – Who Are The ESL Learners? – Common ESL Topics

How To Become A Home-Based Online ESL Teacher

What is ESL?

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. It is known in language schools or companies where students with different native languages learn English. So, a student is called an ESL learner, ELL (English Language Learner) or ESOL (English Speaker of Other Language).

To someone who is teaching English to non-English speaking individuals, he/she is called an ESL teacher or an EFL teacher. EFL is the abbreviation of English as a Foreign Language. Native English teachers commonly use EFL whereas non-native teachers like Filipinos use ESL. I suggest using ESL because it is widely referred by schools, teachers and students.

What should be the English level of an ESL teacher?

Your English level as an ESL teacher does not have to be of the highest quality. What is important is your ability to effectively deliver a lesson to help a student understands the topic. Learners come from different parts of the world, different levels of English, different backgrounds, and in all ages. Though you do not have to be top-notch in grammar, it is expected that you know how to recognize the common English mistakes of learners.

When a teacher has a top-level of English especially during the interview and demo part of the application, it is with no doubt that the teacher gets a high offer from the hiring manager. Whereas, if someone is fluent but often makes grammar and pronunciation slips, then the offer is different. Like in the Philippines for example, many Filipinos speak English fluently but it does not mean all of them can teach nor have enough knowledge in English grammar. Same goes with native speakers from other countries. Our skills are unique to us so as our earning potential.

To some ESL schools, Filipinos are considered native speakers of English, so there are Philippine teachers who are employed to teach in a high-wage companies. But this is not always the case for most Filipino teachers because only few selected people are offered the job. This is why many teachers work as freelancers (not directly connected to a company) because they can set their own rate and schedule.

Like any other profession, your salary will vary greatly on your expertise or experience. Other factors such as educational attainment, citizenship, age, and gender also affect your earning potential. However, when applying for a high-paying ESL jobs, experience is not often required, so as long as you are a native speaker from countries like the USA, UK, Canada, NZ and Australia —landing a job can be somewhat easy. This is quite expected in schools or companies that are based in China.

Most ESL companies employ individuals who hold a minimum of bachelor’s degree, preferably in education. However, since the demand of ESL teachers skyrocketed during the pandemic, many people around the world ventured to online teaching where they can benefit from working remotely.

The hiring process in the ESL industry used to be stringent for many companies especially those who give a high wage, but it has changed tremendously to cater many individuals who are inclined to invest in themselves just to improve their English skills.

Now, you can find hundreds of ESL job ads that accept applicants who are high school graduate and even with no teaching experience or background.

Here are some of the common lesson topics and activities in ESL teaching:



  • Subject-Verb-Agreement
  • Verb Tenses
  • Parts Of Speech
  • Articles


  • Pronunciation
  • Tongue Twister
  • Vocabulary
  • Describing Pictures
  • Role Playing
  • Dialogue Practice
  • Fill In The Blanks
  • Conversation or Discussion

      Other Topics:

  • Travel and Culture
  • Business
  • Daily News
  • English For Kids
  • World Literature
  • Health and Lifestyle

Who are the ESL learners?

As you might know it, ESL learners mainly come from non-English speaking countries in Asia, South America, and Europe. Some of the most popular are the following: China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Colombia, Spain, and Mexico, among others.

There are six ELL levels: Beginner, Lower Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced, Native Speaker (Proficient or Superior).

Here is a list of students’ personality traits: (This is merely based on my opinion and experience.)



-Well mannered

-Most of them are shy


-Never late in class

-Determined to improve their skills

-Most of them do not ask questions or clarifications.

-They are appreciative.


-Just like Japanese, they are friendly and polite

-If they do not like you or have complaints about something, you will know it because they will either make it obvious or leave a bad review on your profile.

-They like to talk more in class.

-Intermediate to advanced learners are mostly good in grammar

-They do not appreciate personal questions (just like any other learners).

-They like to be praised or complimented.


-They like energetic and funny teachers.

-They will speak in Mandarin when they are annoyed at something.

-If student is a kid, you will often hear or see a guardian beside the student.

-They prefer learning from one person rather than have a different teacher every time they book a class.



-They ask questions or clarifications in class.

-They are keen on learning English.

-Most of them take notes in class



-They are appreciative when the teacher really tries hard to make them understand a topic or a word.

-They become more motivated and confident when you praise them in class., so a simple ”Great Job!” will go along way.

-They are happy people with so much positivity.




-They do not hesitate to ask questions when there is something they do not understand.

-They love compliments.

South Americans:


-They prefer native English teachers.

-They do not always attend the class on time.

-They like to talk more in class.

-They often ask questions especially in grammar-related topics.





-Keen on improving their skills

-Always on time

-They prefer native English teachers.

How To Become A Home-Based Online ESL Teacher

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