ESL Curriculum Design Degree Program Information

A bachelor's degree, graduate certificate, or graduate degree in English as a Second Language (ESL) Education provides career opportunities in ESL curriculum design. Teaching certification is normally a prerequisite to most of these opportunities.

Essential Information

There are no English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum design degrees as such. Rather, there are teaching programs that incorporate a course in ESL curriculum design. These include post-baccalaureate certificate programs and master's programs in teaching ESL or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Not all certificate programs focus on ESL curriculum design, but master's programs usually do. While Ph.D. programs exist, they are rare.

Students who want to become ESL curriculum designers should consider related programs. Although most certificate and certification (or licensing) ESL programs are at the graduate level, a few schools include the training as part of a bachelor's degree program in education. With those exceptions, licensing and certificate programs are designed for experienced teachers who wish to become licensed--or endorsed--as an ESL teacher.

Certificate and Licensing Programs in ESL Curriculum Design

Certificate or licensing programs in ESL require 15-24 semester hours of study. Only one course is generally offered in ESL curriculum design and it is usually a required course. Other courses may include:

  • Cross-cultural education
  • Developing and promoting an ESL program
  • ESL theories
  • ESL and bilingual education models
  • Linguistics for ESL teachers
  • Teaching methods for ESL

Master's Degrees in ESL and TESOL

Programs generally include an optional or required course in either ESL curriculum design or ESL materials and methods design. Other coursework, in addition to that required for licensing, might include:

  • Quantitative and qualitative research
  • English language history
  • Language testing
  • Computational linguistics
  • Diagnosis and intervention in reading
  • Foundations in grammar

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Although many states require teachers to have a license or certification in ESL or TESOL, there are no statistics available for employment outlook specifically for ESL teachers of grades K-12. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that kindergarten and elementary school teachers could expect to see 6% job growth from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. High school teachers were also expected to see average growth of 6% during the same decade. The BLS reported adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers in general, including those who teach ESL, could see a 7% job growth from 2014 to 2024.

As of May 2015, the BLS reported the median annual pay rate for kindergarten teachers was $51,640. Elementary school educators earned a median salary of $54,890 per year. Middle school teachers reportedly earned a median annual salary of $55,860, while secondary school educators earned $57,200 per year. As of May 2015, the median annual wage for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers was $50,280 (

Continuing Education

Continuing education is required to maintain ESL licensing or certification. Every state has its own requirements and public colleges offer continuing education courses to fulfill those requirements. Professional associations, such as Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., can also recommend education programs for continuing education.

Since there are no ESL specific curriculum design degrees, most people choose to pursue a bachelor's degree, post-graduate certificate, or graduate degree to enter a career in ESL curriculum design. Upon completion of the program, and receiving the appropriate licensure, program graduates may decide to teach at a level anywhere from elementary to secondary. Others may choose instead to work with adults to assist them in earning their GED or equivalency awards.

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