TESL Course and Certification

TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. Aspiring TESL teachers need to complete a training program before becoming certified. Read about your program options, what you'll study during TESL training and what qualifications you need for certification. Schools offering Teaching ESL degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need To Know

A Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certification course is designed for undergraduates, graduates or those who have declared a major in a field like linguistics, English or education. Stressing second language acquisition, TESL methodology and linguistics, these programs can be found at colleges and universities, both public and private. You can also take training programs online, with some schools offering classes either in a hybrid format or 100% online. The coursework may lead to a certificate or solely prepare students for the TESL endorsement. If you don't yet have a degree, you can also pursue a degree program specifically in TESL.

Certification Courses available in both in-class and online formats, requirements vary by state
Schools Four-year universities, continuing education and adult education departments
Degrees Bachelor's and master's degrees

What Short-Term Program Options are Available?

Students who are looking for short-term options for gaining a TESL certification or endorsement might choose a Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, which can be found on-campus and online. Prerequisites for these programs typically include a bachelor's degree or the equivalent. For those solely seeking coursework, an ESL endorsement-only program might be a good choice; these programs are also available in online and on-campus formats. Coursework may include foundations of bilingual language, bilingual and ESL assessment and linguistics for classroom teachers.

What Will I Learn in a Bachelor's Degree Program?

Aspiring TESL teachers who haven't earned their undergraduate degree might consider a bachelor's degree program specifically in TESL. This program prepares you with a good grasp of English, as well as training in assessing the culture and educational levels of your students. You'll be prepared to teach the basics of the English language, as well as the rules of communications. Although speaking a second language is not a requirement to become a TESL teacher, it makes working with students much easier, so you may also pursue some foreign language studies. A Bachelor of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language program may include the following coursework:

  • English grammar
  • Linguistics
  • Computers in second language teaching
  • Writing
  • Intercultural communication
  • Multicultural psychology

What About a Graduate Degree?

A graduate degree program in TESL might offer students a greater opportunity for intensive study in the field of teaching to prepare them for professional work. A Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language is one program option. The degree is typically offered as a full-time program with a teaching practicum requirement. Teacher certification may also be possible through this program, and some endorsement coursework may be completed in tandem with the degree. Research projects and the development of a portfolio might be additional requirements for degree completion. Course topics may include:

  • Applied human development
  • Diversity in ESL classrooms
  • Second language testing
  • Advanced methods in teaching ESL
  • Literacy instruction for English language learners

What is the Certification Process?

All of the states have different requirements to become a TESL teacher. Each state specifies the number of credit hours and teaching experience you need. The experience can be gained through a college-supervised student-training program. Each state independently administers the exam, either at a state certification testing facility or through the Board of Education. Continuing education and adult education departments may also offer programs for TESL certification.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • George Mason University

    George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at George Mason University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint John's University

    Saint John's University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint John's University:

    • Doctoral

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  • Purdue University

    Purdue University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Joseph's University

    Saint Joseph's University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Joseph's University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

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