Accredited TESOL Certification Via Distance Learning

Learn about online programs with TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) training is available entirely online through graduate certificate and master's degree programs. Certificate programs typically focus on practical training for classroom education abroad, while master's degree programs are more theory-based and focus on curriculum development, linguistics, methodology and research.

TESOL endorsement programs also exist for certified teachers who want to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) in a public school system. Certificate, endorsement and degree requirements vary from state-to-state and are dependent upon the desired employment setting.

To apply to a bachelor's degree program, prospective students must pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), or Business Language Testing Service (BULATS).

TESOL Degree

While there is no one organization that offers TESOL certification, a variety of accredited schools offer certificate and degree programs online for those interested in teaching English to adults in the United States and other countries.

Learning Components

Online learning programs are accessed using online course management platforms. Viewing learning modules requires a computer and Internet connection. Communication on assignments, lectures and exams is completed using discussion forums and e-mail.

TESOL Certificate

These programs are designed to provide the education needed for a job overseas. Schools that offer online TESOL programs often aid their graduates with a certificate that they can show potential employers. Some also provide job assistance and contacts.

In order to be admitted into a TESOL program, candidates must possess a bachelor's degree and often must hold a certain grade point average from prior schooling. Many programs also require minimum scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) or the Business Language Testing Service (BULATS).


The curriculum for Web-based TESOL certificate programs differs between schools. However, most include a minimum of 18 credit hours in major-specific coursework, such as language, culture and linguistics. Many also require practical training through observation, instructional assistance, tutoring and teaching. Many schools allow students to transfer their credits to the school's graduate program. Coursework typically includes:

  • Culture and diversity
  • Second language acquisition
  • Teaching methods
  • Evaluation and assessment for ESL
  • Linguistics

Students who want to teach English to speakers of other languages may consider a distance learning degree or certificate program. In certificate programs, students develop the instructional skills and cultural sensitivity needed to successfully teach English overseas.

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