Workplace Issues - Are You Too Old To Teach ESL?

There have been many questions asked on my blog about teaching ESL at an older age, and I'd like to take this opportunity to address them. Many came from experienced teachers looking for an experience teaching outside of the U.S, while others came from non-experienced 'seniors' who were looking for a second career.

While I couldn't find any concrete statistics on the number of older people teaching ESL, I can tell you from my experience that they are around. I can also tell you that it might be more difficult to get a good job - but definitely not impossible.

Many schools automatically think of a younger person when they imagine their 'ideal' teacher. It's your job - as an older applicant - to make them see otherwise. Here are some tips:

Be confident. A nervous or self-conscious applicant will never do as well as a confident one. If you are concerned about your age, the employer will be also.

Think positive. Who says that being older is bad? If that's your mentality, change it! Most older teachers are, in fact, better teachers. They not only have the life experiences, but also a better dose of patience and skills.

Sell yourself. Yes, you will likely have to do more to sell yourself to beat a college grad for a position. No, it's not fair. But don't harp on the obstacles - instead present yourself in a way that will make it difficult for an employer to resist.

Show off. Have you taught for years? Tell them about it! Do you have a special knack for getting children to enjoy learning? Mention it - more than once! You will need to be explicit in your explanation of your skills.

In short, here's my best advice. Don't ever let your age be a reason not to pursue a career in ESL. The industry is hungry for good dedicated teachers, and in my mind, an older candidate who has a true calling would be an asset to any school!

By Michelle Simmons