What Will I Learn in a TESOL Certificate Program?

Find out prerequisites and required courses for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate programs. Learn about licensing requirements for working as a public school TESOL teacher. Schools offering Teaching ESL degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a TESOL Certificate Program?

A TESOL credential verifies your ability to provide English language instruction to students who are native speakers of another language. A TESOL certificate program is considered the basic level of instruction you can receive for this purpose. However, it likely will not fulfill licensing requirements for public school instruction in the state where you plan to work.

You also can apply your TESOL certificate outside the field of education. For example, you might earn a TESOL certificate to acquire the language skills required to work with the Peace Corps, Red Cross or other volunteer organizations focused on disaster relief. You also could apply the knowledge and skills acquired in a TESOL certificate program as a missionary or international business professional.

Possible Careers Missionary, disaster relief worker, international business professional
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree (some programs allow for simultaneous bachelor's/certificate completion); linguistics, language studies, and education coursework; foreign language courses in the language of your students may be required
Common Courses Class management, language learning theory, cultural barriers in language instruction, English in conversation
Licensure Information All states require that public school teachers be licensed; typically, licensure requires a bachelor's degree and student teaching; secondary certification is also available

Do I Need to Fulfill Prerequisites?

TESOL certificate programs usually admit students who've earned a bachelor's degree, although some schools allow undergraduate students to simultaneously pursue a TESOL certificate. You might also need to complete courses in linguistics, education or language studies before you enroll.

Other prerequisites may include foreign language courses tailored to the students you'll be instructing. If you're a non-native speaker of English, you might have to pass a test to demonstrate your English proficiency.

What Will I Learn?

In a TESOL certificate program, you can expect to complete coursework that explores theories of how students learn a new language. You're also likely to learn about language instruction, class management strategies and cultural barriers in language instruction. Other courses might cover how to partner students for the purpose of learning English through conversation. Additionally, some programs will allow you to practice TESOL instruction with students who are native speakers of a foreign language.

Coursework in a TESOL certificate program often can be applied toward a master's degree. Some schools also offer programs that award both a master's degree and a TESOL certificate.

What Do I Need to Use My Certificate as a Teacher?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public school teachers must be licensed in all 50 states. In most states, you'll need at least a 4-year degree in education before you can be licensed. You'll also need to complete a student-teaching experience under the supervision of a licensed teacher in a public school. Completing a TESOL certificate program can prepare you to earn a secondary certification, also known as a credential or an endorsement, to your license that will allow you to work with students who are native speakers of a foreign language.

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:

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