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ESL Curriculum and Instruction Master's Degree

ESL instructors teach English to non-native English language learners and speakers. Learn more about the field, available programs, admissions requirements and classes offered.

What Is ESL Curriculum and Instruction?

ESL curriculum and instruction covers the practice of helping non-native English speakers learn to read, write and converse better in English. Many times, ESL is taught in the context of real-world situations, like job interviews or financial transactions. One job of an ESL professional may be to figure out how to teach students of varying educational levels, since ESL classrooms are often very diverse. ESL teachers must typically have linguistic training and be comfortable communicating with people from different cultures.

DegreesMaster's degree programs available online
Program HighlightsDevelop curricula for English language learners; some programs lead to teacher certification
Program RequirementsBachelor's degree; some programs require teacher certification
Common CoursesResearch methods, bilingual education, developmental psychology, phonetics
Job Outlook (2016-2026)11% growth (for instructional coordinators)*
Median Salary (2018)$64,450 (for instructional coordinators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Master's Degree Program Like?

You can enroll in a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction degree program that offers ESL as a concentration option. This program usually takes 2-3 years to complete, during which you'll learn how to understand cultural dynamics, develop language abilities, foster social skills and create curricula. This degree commonly prepares you to work as an ESL teacher and researcher. Licensure coursework may be built into the program for those not yet working as educators. Other programs may be designed for currently employed instructors who would like to specialize in ESL.

You can find M.Ed. or Master of Arts (M.A.) programs in ESL, ELL (English language learner) or TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) in a distance-learning format; these programs are all very similar to each other but just have different naming conventions.

What Are the Admission Requirements?

You need at least a bachelor's degree to be considered for admission into master's degree programs in ESL curriculum and instruction. Programs aimed toward currently working professionals also require proof of teacher certification. You can expect to submit standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Additionally, college coursework in a foreign language may be mandated.

What Classes Are Offered?

In a master's-level program in ESL curriculum and instruction, you can expect to gain advanced training in both language and pedagogy. Many classes focus on research, and this program commonly culminates in a thesis or comprehensive exam. Additionally, some schools require you to complete student teaching or internship hours before graduating. You could learn skills like classroom management, language-learning psychology and student assessment. The following are examples of class topics you might find in the curriculum:

  • Bilingualism
  • Language acquisition
  • Research methodologies
  • Emergent literacy trends
  • Evaluation methods for language learners
  • Teaching methods for multilingual students