In general, English teachers instruct middle school, high school and college students about reading and writing in the English language. They teach grammar, composition, reading comprehension, literature and more. In college-level programs for English majors, English instructors teach very specialized classes in topics such as middle English, writing short stories, literary theory and more. The job responsibilities of an English teacher will vary depending on the level of the students that he or she teaches.
An English teacher at the middle school level might teach more generalized classes that discuss a variety of topics such as grammar, composition and literature. A high school English teacher might teach both general classes and specific topics such as creative writing. College-level English instructors often teach classes focused on very specific areas, such as American literature, novel writing, journalism and others.
An English teacher might teach as many as six class periods a day or as few as two or three a day, depending on where he or she teaches. Typical daily duties of an English teacher include preparing, assigning and grading lessons and homework and evaluating students and preparing progress reports. They instruct students in the classroom through both lectures and hands-on activities.
English teachers at the middle school and high school levels meet and interact with parents to provide updates on student progress as part of their jobs. At college and university levels, English teachers often have designated office hours, during which they spend time meeting with students one-on-one to answer questions and provide more personalized instruction. College and university English teachers frequently are professionals in language arts fields such as poetry, novel writing or journalism.
Some teachers travel to countries where the native language is not English in order to teach the English language to people there. English teachers instructing in non-English-speaking countries might instruct young students or university students, or they might teach classes for businesses or corporations. Some of the countries that have high demand for English teachers include Japan, Brazil and Spain.
The educational requirements for English teachers will differ depending on where they instruct. At the middle school and high school levels, they generally will need at least a bachelor's degree and a teaching credential. English teachers in middle schools and high schools sometimes are called language arts teachers. College and university English teachers, also called professors, typically have master's degrees or doctorate degrees. To teach English abroad, a four-year degree often is required, and English-as-a-second-language certification might also be required, depending on the country.