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English Everywhere

According to global business data platform Statisa, 1.35 billion people worldwide use English, either natively or as a second language, in 2021. English is considered the lingua franca (a shared, bridge language) for global business and for many other industries including science, medicine, law, technology, and tourism. Statistics suggest the strength of a nation’s economy is related to its number of English speakers, so governments around the world are driving the demand for quality English language teaching (ELT). Over the past decade, ELT has become a booming growth industry valued at $33.5 billion in 2018 and estimated to be a nearly $55-billion industry by 2025.

ESL Teachers Wanted

“Yes, I am a TOEFL instructor, but more importantly, I am a coach, a cheerleader, a friend, a shoulder to cry on, and a source of inspiration for my students. In short, their futures are in my hands. I cannot make this claim about any other course I have taught ... nothing has brought me greater joy than helping my TOEFL students actualize their dreams.”Bruce Stirling, TOEFL Instructor

Approximately 250,000 English speakers now teach English in non-English-speaking countries each year. While a teaching background is usually not required, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most overseas employers require certification of some kind for their English teachers. Such certificates include:

  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL): qualifies you to teach in foreign countries, formal schools, private organizations/companies, and private tutoring.
  • Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA): a widely respected TEFL certification, awarded by the University of Cambridge.
  • Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL): qualifies you to teach students who recently emigrated to an English-speaking country, and also qualifies you for many online teaching jobs.
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): a general certification to teach both EFL and ESL, both at home and abroad.
  • The Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) certificate, combined with one of the above certificates, allows you to teach students to take the TOEFL exam. Learn more details about the TOEFL.

Besides teaching, the growing ELT industry also offers a range of career opportunities, including owning or directing an English school; writing and publishing; and curriculum design and tech jobs in the expanding online instruction field.

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ELT in Iran

Like the rest of the world, Iran has seen a rise in ELT and teacher training over the past two decades, but Iran’s relationship to English remains fraught. A 2019 study by Aman Rassouli and Nedet Osam (Eastern Mediterranean University) investigated two different positions on the teaching of English in Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), under the direction of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sets official policy on how English should be taught and used. From the government’s position, English is perceived as “the language of enemies”—referring specifically to the U.S. and the U.K. The IRI has screened ELT training programs, dismissed all native speakers of English from the system, censored hints of Western culture from teaching materials, and banned the teaching of English in primary schools.

The study suggested a contrasting view of ELT in Iranian society. A majority of the 472 undergraduate students surveyed by Rassouli and Osam believed that learning English was advantageous for them personally. They viewed knowledge of English as a mark of social prestige and literacy. Because English is perceived as an important element of social status, many Iranian families are willing to invest financially in their children learning English to help improve their position in society. 

Notably, the study found that although individuals hold positive attitudes about learning English to meet their own needs, the IRI’s policies have succeeded in limiting the influence of English language culture in Iran and in preventing individual Iranians from developing favorable perceptions of the West.

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Stirling, Bruce. “3 Reasons You Should Be A TOEFL Instructor.EFL Magazine: The Magazine for English Language Teachers. July 22, 2015. 

Tavakoli, Parvaneh and Hasrati, Mostafa. “MA TEFL programmes in Iran: change in a globalised era.English language teaching in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Innovations, trends and challenges, Editor Chris Kennedy. British Council, 2015.