Professional Development for ESL Teachers – 8 Ways to Boost Your Resume

By Camille Turner
December 4, 2019

Professional development for ESL teachers is sometimes overlooked, but it’s important. Whether you’re looking for a new position or want to move ahead at your current job, ESL professional development can help you stand out to employers as someone who stays on top of trends in education and values lifelong learning. To make your resume shine, we’ll share 8 professional development opportunities, such as earing specialized TEFL/TESOL certificates, attending webinars, and applying for TESOL fellowships.

What is meant by professional development?

Professional development is learning designed to improve one’s capability, expertise, and knowledge in a certain job or career field. This learning often involves earning or maintain certain credentials through academic certifications and coursework, but can also involve informal learning opportunities, such as peer groups or conferences.

When it comes to ESL professional development for teachers, for example, a TEFL/TESOL certified, experienced teacher might take a specialized course to learn a new skill, such as teaching English online, or attend a TESOL conference to stay on top of the latest methods of teaching English.

Why is professional development important for ESL teachers?

Professional development for EFL teachers provides opportunities for teachers to stand out among other professionals in this highly competitive field. It can improve your chances as an applicant and help you advance in your current job. Furthermore, TESOL professional development is important if you want to continue to be a better and more successful teacher for your students. Without participating in professional development opportunities, teachers can become stagnant in their teaching practices and in their careers.

Olivia, a teacher in China, on during a professional development event in Indonesia

Olivia, a teacher in China, with colleagues during a professional development event in Indonesia

What are some examples of professional development? 

There are countless opportunities for ESL professional development. Below are eight of the best ways you can take part in this kind of ongoing learning, all of which will give your resume a boost and provide talking points for your next TEFL job interview

1. Earn a TEFL/TESOL certification of at least 120 hours

If you don’t already hold an internationally-recognized TEFL/TESOL certificate, earning this credential will open doors to a wider range of teaching opportunities both worldwide and online. Most reputable employers require a certification of at least 100 and more often 120 hours, so if your current certificate is fewer hours than that, upgrading to meet this international standard will result in more job opportunities.

2. Specialize your training/certification

If you’re already TEFL/TESOL certified, specialized courses will enhance your resume by showing employers that you go above and beyond and value continuous professional development. 

Specialized Certificates

Teachers can specialize in high-demand areas, such as teaching young learners or teens, to qualify for more diverse jobs and be better prepared for the classroom. Specialized training also provides opportunities for experienced teachers to expand into new and growing areas of TEFL/TESOL, such as teaching English online.

Free Micro-credentials

You can even take free professional development courses through Bridge via our tuition-free TEFL/TESOL Micro-credentials! These short, targeted courses cover practical, current topics in English language teaching and you can take as many as you like, free of charge. You’ll have the option to upgrade if you’d like tutor support in your micro-course and a verifiable certificate and digital badge upon completion.

Available Micro-credential courses are the following, and we’re adding more on a continual basis:

3. Showcase your achievements with digital badges

Digital badges for BridgeTEFL certification

When you complete a TEFL/TESOL certification course or specialized certificate with Bridge, you will receive a digital badge that allows you to highlight your achievement. Add digital badges to your resume, LinkedIn profile, or your Bridge Job Board Teacher Portfolio to showcase your professional development. These stackable, shareable digital credentials provide employers with the full scope of the program you completed, with just one click.

4. Attend or present workshops at your school

Team up with colleagues to identify areas in your teaching methods or your school that could use improvement, such as classroom management. Then, host a workshop on the specific skill set that needs to be addressed. 

These professional development workshops can be scheduled on a monthly or bi-monthly basis; teachers can take turns presenting or you can host a roundtable discussion, instead. Consider incorporating peer evaluations or self-reflective practices like journaling into your workshops, providing teachers an opportunity to share the areas in which they excel and in which they need to improve. That way, you’ll never run out of workshop topics to cover!

TEFL teacher Carol with some of the Cambodian teachers she trains

Carol, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, holding a training workshop for local teachers 

5. Connect with ESL peers and influencers

There are various ways to connect with ESL peers or other experts in the field. Try joining an interactive TESOL training course, such as the IDELTOnline™, with an international cohort of trainees, in order to share ideas with other teachers through online forums, discussion threads, and collaborative projects.

You can also join EFL/ESL groups on social media sites like Facebook. These groups provide teaching support and allow you to discuss teaching methods and ideas with other professionals. Some groups even revolve around specific topics, such as lesson planning, to help you grow in specialized areas, or on job searching, such as the Bridge TEFL/TESOL Jobs Facebook group.

You can also connect with ESL peers through networking events like conferences. Use these opportunities to attend information sessions and share ideas and learn from experts in the industry.

6. Attend virtual or in-person TESOL conferences

Attending TESOL conferences is a great way to continue your EFL professional development. There are many annual regional, national, and international conferences available to teachers, and these conferences are even shifting to a 100% online format.  

TEFL teachers at a TESOL event in Colombia

Bridge staff members, Anna and Lisa, attending the TESOL conference in Colombia. 

Two of the most popular include the TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo and the IATEFL International Conference. Conferences such as these provide opportunities for ESL teachers to network and hear from leading experts in the industry. Plus, attending a prestigious TESOL conference shows employers your continued interest in professional development and your involvement in the EFL community.

7. Apply for a TESOL fellowship or grant

Applying for a teaching fellowship or research grant in an ESL-related field can give your career a huge boost in terms of making you more marketable and providing you with invaluable teaching experience.

National programs, such as the U.S. Department of State’s English Language Fellow Program, are competitive, and acceptance into one of these teaching programs looks great on your resume. If you’d rather focus on a research project for a specific ESL topic, try searching your government’s education site for grants. Most countries have a decent budget for awarding grant money to teachers for ESL projects, and having specialized, government-funded research under your belt will set you apart from other English language teaching professionals.

8. Get your master’s in TESOL

This one may not be as easy to add as a specialized TEFL/TESOL certificate, but if you’re you thinking of making teaching a career, consider getting your master’s in TESOL. An MA TESOL opens up the most competitive job opportunities and qualifies you to teach at a higher level, such as in universities. If you’re not ready to make the commitment to a master’s program right now or you want to explore other options, consider ESL continuing education classes or certifications, like the Bridge IDELTOnline, that can be taken as a pathway to graduate study at Bridge partner universities.

Is a master’s in TESOL worth it for you? Read this article to find out.

Training and participating in English language teachers’ professional development opportunities, such as attending conferences or completing specializations, makes you a better teacher. But, it’s also key to enhancing your resume and standing out in a competitive job market.

If you think earning a master’s in TESOL is the right step for you in professional development, check out one of our MA pathway partners, Huntington University!