Certification Programs for Teaching English As a Second Language (TESL)

Oct 14, 2019

Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certificate programs are designed to train individuals in the art and science of language pedagogy in a year or less. Admission requirements vary, depending on the type of program.

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Essential Information

Some TESL certificate programs are aimed at trained, licensed teachers, while others are for volunteers who work in tutoring and with adult immigrants. These are usually short programs, consisting of no more than seven courses.

Generally, the curriculum is divided between the theoretical and practical, with emphasis placed on the principles and methodology of language acquisition along with the skills required for effective cross-cultural communication. Certificate candidates also learn the skills needed for curriculum and syllabus design. Some programs feature a practicum, in which the individual spends part of a semester student teaching. Online courses and programs are available.


Certification Programs in Teaching English as a Second Language

Programs vary in length, but generally consist of 4-7 courses. Below are some generic course titles that are likely to be encountered in a TESL certificate program.

  • Second language acquisition assessment
  • Cultural dimensions of language
  • Teaching English grammar
  • Linguistics
  • Language analysis

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Most certificate-holders seek employment in the teaching profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors was $53,630, as of May 2018. There are also (potentially stipend) volunteering opportunities for individuals with TESL skills. Contact your local adult literacy center for more information.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

For those who want to continue their education beyond the certificate level, there are TESL bachelor's and graduate degree programs available. Many certificate programs offer transferable credit for coursework successfully completed. With at least a bachelor's degree, candidates may pursue certification from the American TESOL (or Americans Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Institute, which offers some of the most popular TESL certification programs. It also offers job placement and career information for members. Certification platforms include TESOL Advanced, TESOL Expert and TESOL for Children.

Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certification enables a professional to be able to assist students to whom the English language is not their native language achieve academic success. Certification programs are normally fairly short, typically lasting no more than a year to complete. Necessary skills include second language assessment, linguistics, and language analysis.

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