A graduate certificate in ESL prepares one to teach English as a second language to adult learners or public-school students, assuming the graduate student is already a licensed K-12 teacher. The program may include official TESOL, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, certification. Many schools offer fully online programs.
Courses Common to ESL Graduate Certificate Programs
The length of the program and course content will vary depending on the school, but programs typically range between 12 and 18 credit hours. Online certificates may focus on teaching ESL for adult learners, K-12 students or both. Course topics like those described below remain consistent with most programs.
Fundamentals of Language Minority Education
This type of course covers the background and basics. Topics may include the history, theories, philosophies, and pedagogy of teaching language to minority students. Students may also study beginning language learning theory and learn how to analyze the needs of ESL students.
Introduction to Language and Linguistics
These types of courses will provide a basic introduction to general language and linguistics as it relates to all learning. This course may not be ESL specific but rather reinforce knowledge about how people learn to understand language in general. The course covers the field of linguistics and may include topics such as semantics, phonology, and morphology.
ESL for Children
This course will cover second-language acquisition and methods for teaching English as a second language to children. Other topics may cover ways to engage young ESL students in learning and parent communication. The course may also review current research in childhood language acquisition.
Characteristics and Principles of Adult Learners
The special considerations necessary for success when teaching adult learners are the focus of courses such as these. The course will cover adult learning theory and best practices when teaching adults. Other topics may include strengths and weaknesses of different instructional techniques and characteristics of adulthood that impact adult learning.
Language Assessment and Evaluation of ESL Students
Evaluation methods and assessment best practices are studied in this course. The curriculum will focus on assessment as it pertains to ESL students, taking their special needs into consideration. The course may cover topics like testing theories, considerations of culture in assessments, and ways of scoring different types of assessments.
Parental Involvement in Language Minority Education
This course focuses on situations with parents that teachers may face when teaching ESL children. Studies include the ways culture and family dynamics impact student learning and communication. The course may also include characteristics of language interactions and different cultures.
Entrance Requirements for ESL Graduate Certificate Programs
Those seeking admittance to a college or university's graduate school for an online certificate are generally required to have a bachelor's degree, although some programs may also look for a master's degree. A prior GPA of 3.0 and transcripts from previous schools are also needed. Prerequisite courses may apply in some programs, depending on the student's educational background. Some schools require the student to submit a statement or letter describing why they want to pursue the ESL certificate as part of the application process as well as a resume and letters of recommendation. Second-language learners must also submit proof of English proficiency.
An online ESL graduate program offers students a convenient way to gain a career-enhancing certification from home with just 12 to 18 credit hours. The coursework involved can include topics such as linguistics, parental involvement and language assessment.