The discipline or profession of teaching English as a second language is a fairly new one, dating back no more than 50 years. Historically, the discipline has been seen as either a part of linguistics (applied), English, or foreign language education. Taking insights from these disciplines and others, teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) is now recognized as a distinct discipline with its own professional organizations, journals, conferences, publishers, and bodies of literature. Given the global influence of English-speaking countries and peoples in the areas of entertainment, politics, and technology, the demand for English is ever-increasing, thus creating a fast-growing industry.
With the high demand for English instruction around the world, there are many career opportunities for those who are qualified in TESOL. Public school systems in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries find themselves with an increasing number of second language speakers, due to high immigration patterns in Western industrialized nations. Thus, there are many jobs available to those who are trained and certified (See TESOL Education major for more information on becoming "certified" or licensed to teach in the U.S. public school system).
In addition to opportunities to teach in the public school systems of English speaking countries, there are many jobs in other nations, both in the public and private sectors. Many graduates in TESOL go on to work for multinational corporations (English for Business Purposes), or set up their own private language institutes.
Those who may not be interested in teaching may find that their interests lie in materials development or computer software development. Others find that their interests lie in pursuing further education in various applied fields of linguistics, multicultural education, speech pathology, educational psychology, testing and assessment, counseling, instructional technology, or social services.