Although our instructors are all individuals and bring unique qualities to each teaching assignment, there is a body of characteristics that they share. In an attempt to assist you in knowing whether or not teaching with the ELI is right for you, we offer this incomplete list as a sample of the sorts of qualities we look for in instructors.
Since the ELI stresses the professional training of instructors as a feature of our institute, a Master’s degree that focuses on English language teaching and the related areas of applied linguistics is essential. This advanced degree is usually a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), but we also consider candidates who have a Master’s in the Teaching of Languages (with an English language emphasis) or a Master’s in Education (again, with an English language teaching emphasis). Other closely related advanced degrees may also be considered, but usually only if they provide a demonstrated emphasis in the teaching of the English language.
Occasionally we may consider an instructor who is in the process of completing one of these degrees, but only if the instructor already has demonstrated experience and knowledge in the area.
Also, please note that if an instructor is only interested in teaching our Cross-cultural Communication Seminars, an advanced degree in that area or in Intercultural Communication would then be appropriate.
Our instructors all have had experience teaching English in the areas of adult and higher education. Since the ELI primarily provides courses in these areas of English language needs, experience teaching at the college/university level and/or teaching adults is preferable.
In addition, our instructors have had experience studying languages, and several of them can communicate comfortably in another language. While fluency in a second language is not essential for many of our teaching assignments, having seriously studied a second language is a key characteristic of our instructors. Studying another language gives a teacher inside knowledge into the experience of language learners, and we believe having that experience helps develop better teachers.
Flexibility is an essential characteristic of our instructors. First of all, because many of our courses are developed for clients who have specific English language or cross-cultural learning needs, the ELI’s instructors must be flexible in working with these clients. While we certainly provide the professional tools and know-how that our clients need, we function within their agenda, not our own. Secondly, our instructors must be flexible in availability, and they must be comfortable working as an adjunct instructor. Many ELI courses are offered in the late afternoon or evening, and we need instructors willing and able to work at unconventional hours.
Professional Development
We look for instructors who are lifelong learners—instructors who realize that the area of teaching English is complex and changing, meriting continued study. We look for instructors who take their teaching seriously enough to have identified areas of professional research interest. We look for instructors who would be interested in helping fellow teachers grow and improve as a teaching team.
Independent, Detail-oriented, Professional, and Accountable
Many of our instructors are given teaching assignments that require assessment, curriculum development, teaching, and administrative assistance over the course’s duration, and many of our courses are taught on-site for businesses and community partners. Thus, we need instructors who are self-motivated, have an ability to consider the details of a situation, and who will demonstrate the professional commitment of the ELI. However, because of the layers of accountability built into the ELI’s structure, our instructors must be able and willing to communicate classroom plans and events with the ELI’s administration as well.
Do these characteristics describe a team you would like to join? If so, please read How to Apply for a position with the English Language Institute.
For more information about our instructors, or if you have questions about the characteristics we look for in our teachers, please contact Rebekah Trinh, ELI Director, by email at or by phone at (205) 975-6638.

   phone-white-icon  205.975.6638
UAB English Language Institute
EB 126
1720 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294-1250