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"I have a degree in French and Italian and 12 years experience in IT as a technical writer and software tester. Will my IT skills make me more sought after in a TEFL environment? What would be the best way to market these skills, combined with a TEFL qualification? "
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I am a recent college graduate with a degree in French language and literature, and I have decided to pursue a career in teaching ESL, and, potentially, EFL. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions. 1) What kind of certification do I need to teach ESL in the States, specifically in New York? 2) If I go through a certification program for EFL, does this certify me for ESL as well, and vice versa? 3) What are the advantages, if any, of obtaining a master's degree in education with a concentration in EFL? Will this look better on a resume? Will my salary be higher? Will this ensure me the same possibilities to teaching as a certification, or is certification necessary as well? 4) Is it truly possible to make a living out of teaching ESL? Thank you so much for your help. I welcome any advice you might have about certification/MA programs.

For the moment, the most respected ESL qualification in the States is an MATESOL. Many people now regard EFL and ESL as being synonymous. However, the technical difference is that EFL = English as a Foreign Language and ESL= English as a Second Language. Originally this was intended to differentiate between students who were in an evironment where English was very much the second language of that society (ESL) and students who were not in that environment and where English was very "foreign" (EFL). It was therefore understood that if one was trained in EFL one should be equipped to teach 0 beginners as well as other levels. Whereas if one was trained in TESL it was not necessarily the case that one had been trained to deal with the 0 beginner situation. However, nowadays, with people being conscious of the Anglocentricity of the term EFL, they often use ESL instead, with some preferring EAL (English as an additional language). The important thing when choosing a course is to check whether or not the beginner level situation will enter into your training. A Masters will normally command better teaching positions and therefore better salaries but it is important that it has a teaching practice element, as many employers shun Masters qualified applicants for teaching positions if they cannot demonstrate ability in the practice as well as the theory. Yes, people do make a living out of EFL/ESL, but seldom a fortune! Best of luck in your new career.

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