ESL Teaching and Post-Pandemic: What Changed?

By Altiné Mni

The pandemic that started in 2019 has shaken the world, and it has transformed the way we interact, the way we work, and even made us appreciate the simplest things we took for granted. So, has the pandemic affected ESL teachers? This article discusses seven ways the pandemic affected ESL teachers and provides tips for ESL teachers to succeed in the post-pandemic. 

1. Pandemic creates shortage of qualified ESL teachers

Currently, there are still fewer ESL teachers willing to travel abroad and teach ESL. At the same, countries like the USA experience a massive reduction in ESL teachers. About 44% of public schools in the USA declare they need at least one teacher, and 61%, particularly of these vacancies, are due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including 51% resignations and 21% retirements (Source: Usnews.com).

2. Pandemic increases uncertainty among ESL teachers

The pandemic increased the level of uncertainty as nobody actually knows what will happen next. The best way to prepare is to invest in yourself and become a better teacher. Here are a few things that might happen in most countries: 

  • Countries might adopt stricter visa requirements
  • Parents may decide to homeschool their kids or even choose online education

3. Parents may experience income reduction

Most countries, including the USA, will experience post-pandemic recession, reducing households’ discretionary spending for education. This may lead to fewer private tutoring jobs available for ESL teachers. In addition, some ESL students may need to drop out of school to support their families.

4. ESL teachers less sure about teaching as a career 

A study from the Brookings Institution found that, during the pandemic, teachers have become less confident about their career choices. The researchers found that many teachers considered leaving or retiring during the 2020-2021 academic year. The study identified three potential problem areas:

  • Many teachers, particularly those approaching retirement age, considered leaving or retiring because of COVID-19
  • Most teachers had to change instructional mode at least once during the year
  • COVID-19 health concerns also increased the probability of considering leaving

5. Pandemic increases role of technology in ESL learning

One of the biggest issues is the increased role of technology in ESL learning. In most western countries, including the UK, Canada, and the United States, many ESL students have at least some access to electronic devices and internet. In addition, some ESL students might need to take up jobs to help their families during the economic recession created by the pandemic. 

6. Online classes can be challenging for both teacher and student

Another issue is that many strategies ESL teachers use with English learners don’t generally work in online classrooms. For instance, it can be challenging for ESL teachers to provide one-on-one feedback in a large, online classroom setting. According to the University of Cincinnati Online, some challenges include a lack of access to digital devices and internet connectivity, school and family language barriers, families’ limited capacity to support online learning, and insufficient online learning resources and teacher training. 

7. ESL teachers required to adopt more hybrid teaching methods: online and offline 

The pandemic forced most schools to shut down and switch to online classrooms. The post-pandemic will require ESL teachers to be fluent in using online teaching tools to be successful and competitive in the marketplace worldwide. The new hybrid approach makes it harder for ESL teachers to interact in person with their students and provide them with the one-on-one support they need to succeed. 

Best tips for ESL teachers post-pandemic

Learn all you can about your teaching destination and potential employer

  • Pick a good employer 
  • Study requirements for teaching in the country
  • Learn the rules and regulations of your potential destination and potential employer

Get the proper credentials

Before selecting a TEFL course, read this article to learn more about TEFL.

Learn your students’ language

  • Learning the local languages will help you better connect with your students and their parents. It will also help you navigate your daily life, including bureaucracy and finding accommodation

Save as much as possible

The one thing this pandemic has taught us is the importance of building an emergency fund and saving for rainy days.

Written by Altiné Mni for TEFL.NET July 2022
Altiné is from Toronto, Canada, and currently teaches mathematics at a high school in Guangzhou, China. He has a master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Canada and is passionate about helping people worldwide through his blogs. He writes about TEFL Teaching and Health and Fitness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, traveling, and anything that allows him to experience the beauty of nature. You can find him at altinify.com.
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