ESL Teacher Interview Questions and Example Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 23, 2021 | Published September 25, 2020

Updated July 23, 2021

Published September 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An ESL teacher works with a diverse range of students whose native languages are not English. These professionals use a variety of unique teaching methods to educate and support English language learners. If you're preparing for your ESL teacher interview, there are several questions you might expect that are specific to the ESL educator role. In this article, we'll discuss common ESL teacher interview questions, including example answers, to help you prepare for and succeed in your interview.

Related: Top 6 Common Interview Questions and Answers

Jenn, an Indeed Career Coach, breaks down the intentions behind employer's questions and shares strategies for crafting strong responses.

Related: Learn About Being a Teacher

General questions

The interviewer will most likely get started with some basic questions about you. These questions serve as a way for you and the interviewer to get to know each other, and your answers help the interviewer get an idea of how you will fit in with their school culture:

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • What interests you about our school?

  • What qualities do you look for in a teaching environment?

  • How do you stay motivated throughout the day?

  • How do you motivate your students?

  • What do you like most about teaching?

  • What do you feel are the most challenging aspects of teaching?

  • What is one professional goal you have?

  • What have you done to further your professional development?

  • Do you have any questions about our school and culture?

Questions about background and experience

Your background and teaching experience (particularly with English language learners) are essential in giving the interviewer insight into what you can bring to the role of ESL teacher at their school. Several questions you might encounter about your background include:

  • What certifications do you currently have?

  • Why did you choose ESL education?

  • Are you fluent in any other languages aside from English?

  • What is your teaching philosophy?

  • Can you describe your teaching style?

  • How would your past colleagues describe your teaching approach?

  • What has been your biggest achievement?

  • What do you think makes a strong educator?

  • What qualities do you feel an educator should have to teach ESL?

  • How long have you worked as an ESL teacher?

Related: 16 Teacher Interview Tips

In-depth questions

As you progress through your interview, the interviewer will likely ask you more in-depth questions as a way to evaluate your fit for the job. Questions about your teaching methods, lesson planning and others can tell the interviewer how you apply your skills to be successful in your job.

  • How do you see your education experience contributing to our school culture?

  • What components are essential in an effective ESL lesson plan?

  • Can you describe your classroom management techniques?

  • How do you support ESL students who may be struggling to grasp new concepts?

  • How would you approach working with ESL students with learning disabilities?

  • What ESL curriculum pedagogies do you implement in the classroom?

  • Can you describe your biggest success in working with ESL students?

  • What strategies do you implement to help support English language learners?

  • How do you implement technology to engage and support English language learning?

  • How do you plan for, modify lessons for and accommodate ESL students who do not speak English?

Related: 50 Teacher Interview Questions and Answers to Help You Prepare

ESL teacher interview questions and sample answers

The following ESL teacher interview questions and sample answers can help you get prepared for your interview:

1. What sets the ESL learning environment apart from a general education classroom?

Unlike a regular classroom, the learning environment for students who do not speak English typically uses tools and resources that directly support learning a new language. The interviewer likely wants to know how you will enhance your classroom to fully support your ESL students. Use examples of how you maintained an enriching learning environment in your past roles.

Example: "In my last classroom, I used visual cues with English and Spanish so that my native Spanish speaking students always had a way to recall vocabulary and language concepts. I also implemented daily language practice using a variety of online resources, including video sing-alongs to support each new language concept I introduced."

2. How do you engage, involve and communicate with families of ESL students?

The interviewer wants to know how you plan to get the parents and family members involved with what their students are learning in school. Showcase your ability to communicate through conferences, newsletters and other means, especially with families and communities who are also non-English speaking.

Example: *"Many of my students' families from my past position were non-English speakers, and this initially posed a challenge for me. However, I used weekly newsletters with two printed sides, one in the families' native language and the other side in English.**

*I also sent weekly email updates with pictures of what their students were participating in during the school day. My students kept a daily planner where I could include notes, stickers and require a parent's or guardian's initials to show that they were checking their child's planner each day."

Related: Teach English Online: The Ultimate Guide

3. How would you modify curriculum, lessons, activities and assessments to make these accessible for ESL students?

Curriculum modification can be necessary at times working with ESL students and the interviewer will likely use your answer to gauge how you ensure that your students can access resources when they need to. Showcase how you plan for each student's language level and proficiency and deliver materials and resources according to their personal learning styles.

Example: "I always use my students' data to plan lessons and assessments that are appropriate for each of their learning styles, level of proficiency and by how much support they will need to complete a given activity. I have been successful in making general education curriculum available at the language proficiency level for most of my ESL students in the past, and for those whose proficiency still needs support, I apply specific modifications such as visuals cues to help them complete their lessons as independently as possible."

4. How do you implement progress monitoring for assessing ESL students?

The interviewer will want to get an idea of how you ensure your students are succeeding at becoming proficient in learning English. Describe some of the methods, software, resources and other tools you have used in the past to keep track of your students' progress throughout the school year.

Example: "I love using Excel for keeping digital records of all of my students' learning data. I keep separate pages for different language concepts, including vocabulary, reading fluency and phonemic awareness that I can enter grades and descriptions of how each student is progressing with a given concept. In addition to Excel, I also implement state-selected assessments for formally evaluating my students' progress, along with concepts and values from students' daily lessons to develop informal assessments. This information gives me valuable insight into what concepts students may be struggling with and those that they've mastered."

5. Can you describe your approach to creating assessments?

Similar to progress monitoring, developing and implementing effective assessments shows the interviewer that you are experienced in the elements of assessment development. Give examples of the types of assessments you implemented in past roles and how they supported your students' overall learning outcomes.

Example: "Each nine-week period I introduce a cumulative, informal assessment to evaluate my students' progress levels. These informal assessments consisted of curriculum standards for ESL students to demonstrate mastery in. At the beginning of the school year, I evaluate each student's language proficiency levels before introducing learning concepts. This helps me understand where each of my students' proficiency with the English language is so I can develop lessons and activities that are personalized for each learner. I integrate formal assessments twice per year, at the end of the first semester and at the end of the school year."

Jobs similar to an ESL teacher

Here are 10 jobs that you might consider pursuing that are similar to an ESL teacher position:

1. Tutor

2. School counselor

3. Teacher aide

4. Translator

5. Foreign language teacher

6. School principal

7. Educational consultant

8. College professor

9. Linguist

10. Adult learning specialist

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