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Interview Questions for an ESL Teacher

by Erin Schreiner, studioD

Learning reading, writing and 'rithmatic presents a more formidable challenge to students who aren’t fluent in the language their instructors are speaking. ESL teachers assist students who are grappling with this challenge. Because the job of an ESL teacher is quite different from that of a general classroom educator, the questions you will face when interviewing for a position of this type will be vastly different from those leveled at your general education peers.

Basic How-To

Often, the hiring committee considering you as a candidate will not include anyone who has ever worked in the highly specialized ESL field. As a result, they may ask how an ESL classroom runs. Prior to your interview, think about this question. Prepare a concise and clear explanation of how you effectively instruct ESL students. Include, specifically, details of how you differentiate to meet the needs of all students, and how you design lessons that allow students to apply their learning.


ESL teachers must continually assess their students' English language skills. Prepare to explain how you effectively do this. When answering this question, state specific assessments, such as the W-APT or your state's standardized screener. Explain how you use these assessments to quantify a student's understanding of English. If you say that you simply observe your students, you likely won’t impress, as observation alone is insufficient to truly assess the language learners that will fill your classroom.

Technology Usage

It's common for ESL teachers to work with students of varying English skills simultaneously. To teach students who speak little English at the same time as those who are just below proficiency, ESL teachers commonly use technology, including audiovisual tools and computer programs. Prepare to provide specific explanations of how you will use technology to effectively reach all students. When answering questions of this type, don’t speak in generalities; instead, cite the specific programs and tools you will use. For example, explain how you used a language learning program like Rosetta Stone to help ESL students in a previous placement or field experience, or outline your use of CDs as a means of sharing examples of fluent English usage with students.


Regulations pertaining to ESL students vary from state to state, but in nearly every state these students are a protected subgroup, meaning they are eligible for specialized services as a result of their uncommon needs. As an ESL teacher, you will be responsible for ensuring that your school complies with these regulations. Prepare to outline what you know about laws in regard to ESL students and explain what you will do to ensure that the school doesn’t slip out of compliance. Brush up on these tedious rules before your interview.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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