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Online Degree Programs in ESL Teaching with Training Summary

Research online ESL teaching courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

Online English as a second language (ESL) teaching degree programs usually culminate in a master's degree or graduate certificate. Students learn to appreciate diverse cultures and gain skills in instructing and assessing non-native English speakers.

With the exception of practicums, these ESL teaching programs can often be completed totally online. The on-site teaching practicum or internship gives students supervised experience applying ESL instructional methods in the classroom. These can be arranged in the distance learner's area and usually last one semester, which is around four months long.

To be eligible for admission to an online graduate program, prospective students must have a bachelor's degree, which may need to be in an education-related field. Some schools, particularly those who offer additional teaching endorsements in ESL, require applicants to already have initial teaching certification. Other schools may admit students without certification, but they'll have to complete additional coursework or pursue other avenues to gain that initial credential.

Master of Education in ESL

Students enrolled in this online degree program in ESL teaching take classes in developing cultural awareness and sensitivity, language proficiency assessment and methods of research. Taking around two years to complete, master's programs usually contain core courses and then give distance learners a bit of flexibility by offering several elective options. A thesis or a research project is usually the culminating experience.

Course Topics

Examples of online classes in an ESL master's degree program include the following:

  • Literacy instruction
  • Second language acquisition
  • Multilingual education
  • ESL methods and materials
  • ESL assessment methods
  • Linguistics
  • Instructional technology

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ESL-EFL Teaching Certificate

Online ESL and English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching graduate certificate programs are designed for mainstream teachers, teachers already working in adult education and teachers who plan to work abroad. These programs usually take around one to two years. Coursework is similar to that found in master's programs in this field, but there are fewer credit requirements and a thesis or major project may not be required.

Course Topics

Online classes could include the following:

  • Development of literacy skills
  • Language and society
  • Course design for adult ESL
  • Assessment of ESL learners

How Distance Learning Works

Most online ESL teaching degree programs use message boards, e-mail and websites to communicate with professors and provide lessons. Some training programs also have students work together in online groups. Course content is delivered via a school's virtual classroom and may be accessed at a student's convenience.


Career Info

Successful completion of an online master's degree or graduate certificate ESL teaching program prepares students for work in both public and private school settings. Certified ESL teachers may choose careers in the following fields:

  • Remedial education
  • Missionary work
  • Adult literacy
  • Secondary education

For those who wish to teach non-English speakers, a master's degree or graduate certificate in English as a second language (ESL) is an option available online, typically with a semester-long practicum at the conclusion of the program. The program emphasizes literacy instruction, ESL assessment methods, multilingual education and teaching methodology.

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