TEACHING ENGLISH IN NEW YORK
ESL in New York is a large, growing market. There are millions of local immigrants who have lived in New York for years without considering acquiring English skills. Some of them wake up and want to do something about their English after 15, 20 years of living in the U.S. Others are visitors to New York who want to study English while being here. Again others use the student visa to acquire a somewhat legal status in the U.S., allowing them to partially work while studying English in New York.
These students will often head for the private language institutes that are located in lower Manhattan. The pay in these schools varies, but there’s rarely a month where they’re not in desperate need for new teachers. Community colleges offer a higher pay and often have (evening) classes as part of their ‘continuing education’ programs. Working with immigrant groups in community centers can also pay well. There are some immigrant groups that cannot pay at all, and are therefore staffed with dedicated volunteers whose pay is based more on gratitude than dollars.
Some groups of students can fall across more than one category. For example, a number of students come to the New York because they want to study a subject at university. They might start learning English at a private language school before moving on to classes in an ESL department at a university (which are much more expensive). Private language schools, immigrant groups and volunteer positions are often advertised on Craigslist, though they are all open to direct applications. Colleges and universities are much more likely to advertise on their own websites, which have much smaller readerships, but then again they pay more, so they can get away with it. A lot of positions also become available through word-of-mouth, so networking is also useful.
TESOL courses have been running in the city for almost 20 years, making them one of the longest running ESL teacher training courses in New York. As such, they are well-known and a number of employers are former trainees of the course, which helps in the networking process.
Do I need a degree to teach in the USA?
If you want to teach in a public, private elementary or secondary school or in a community college or university, you will need a degree. Most states require special training on top of this.
If you want to teach in a private organization helping refugees, they may or may take you without a degree. It is definitely possible to find volunteer jobs and get experience without having a formal degree.
Do I need a TEFL qualification and/or experience?
Schools will certainly give preference to the trained teacher.
What are the visa requirements?
Most employers will help with the visa requirements, but many will leave you on your own if you want to apply for a Green card. Please keep in mind that because there are many qualified teachers already here in the U.S., it may be difficult for them to show that the position cannot be filled by a U.S. citizen. An exception would be if you have a doctorate with a specialty or sub-specialty in Teaching English as a Second Language.
Where are the jobs and what’s the best way to find them?
States and cities that have a large number of immigrants would be the best place to look for work: Southern California, Washington (Seattle area specifically), New York (New York City area in particular).
In general, it’s easier to find work in private language schools than in community college districts (at least, what full-time employment concerns) or at universities. IEP programs in California have been advertising for new teachers continuously for the last few semesters, so with a degree, some experience, and/or the desire to work with international students, this could be the way to go.
The best way is by contacting the schools or the local education departments. If you’re willing to teach other subjects, the absolute best way is to begin by being a substitute teacher. You usually need 60 college credits to do that. If you become known to the administration, and they like your teaching, you will have a better chance of getting hired in the district.
Another good way is through networking at conferences and through university contacts who may know people in this country. There could be leads on the internet, but there are usually lots of applicants. It’s hard to find work this way.
When is the best time of year to look for work?
Community programs and private organizations recruit throughout the year. Public schools and colleges recruit for the beginning of semesters.
What kind of salary and working conditions can I expect?
This varies dramatically upon where you teach. It can range from $30-100K for positions at a university, $25-50K for positions at elementary and secondary schools to $10-20K at private organizations. The hourly salary varies according to the school (from about $18 – $25 per hour).
What are the working hours?
Public schools: 30 hours a week teaching
Private schools: 20-25 hours a week
Universities: 10-20 hours a week.
Language schools: 20-25 hours per week.
Evenings in community-based programs
Are there opportunities for private teaching?
Yes, there are. You have to advertise locally or through word of mouth.