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The CAL Resources Archive was created to provide our visitors with access to older pages and content from our Web site that they may find useful. Please be aware that information within the CAL Resources Archive is historical in nature and will not be maintained or updated by CAL.
This publication was prepared with funding from the National Library of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. ED-99-CO-0008. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of NLE, OERI, or ED.
At ERIC/CLL, we receive many queries about the options available to earn teaching credentials for English as a second language (ESL). Prospective ESL teachers want to know about the kinds of certificates and endorsements available and where and how they can earn one. Those who are not currently teachers ask about undergraduate and graduate programs in TESL (teaching ESL); those who are already teaching in other fields ask about add-on certification in ESL. To answer their questions and provide additional information on ESL certification, ERIC/CLL is planning a new Resource Guide Online to be published early in 2003. In the meantime, this article is designed to give prospective ESL teachers a general overview of their certification options.
There are many acronyms used in the field of English language teaching. It may be helpful to clarify what these terms mean and how they are typically used, because several different terms – sometimes, but not always, interchangeable – may be used when describing a certification program, which can be confusing. The following is a list of common acronyms used by various programs:
ESL: English as a second language. This refers to the teaching and learning of English in English-speaking countries.
EFL: English as a foreign language. This refers to the teaching and learning of English in countries where English is not the primary language.
TESL/TEFL: Teaching English as a second/foreign language. TESL/TEFL programs prepare teachers of English as a second or foreign language.
TESOL: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Some teacher preparation programs use this term instead of TESL or TEFL. This term is also used to refer in a more general way to the field of English language teaching. (TESOL is also the abbreviation for an international professional association for teachers of ESL/EFL, but it is not used in that context in this article.)
Programs may name their certificates TESL, TEFL, TESOL, or ESL/EFL, or they may use some combination thereof. In this article, certificates are referred to by the name used by the particular program being described.
There are many different certification options for those who are interested in teaching ESL. The type of certification that is most appropriate will depend on where the prospective teachers plan to teach, the age level they wish to work with, and the level of teaching certification, if any, that they already possess. For example, an individual with a bachelor’s degree but no experience or training in education who would like to volunteer as an adult ESL teacher in a community-based program might need no formal certificate or training in order to do so. On the other hand, someone who wants to teach ESL in a U.S. K–12 public school system would, in most cases, need a teaching certificate – which typically involves an undergraduate degree in education or coursework attained through an alternative certification program – as well as endorsement to teach ESL. For those who are interested in teaching English abroad, certification requirements vary tremendously. Some EFL programs require a Master’s degree in ESL and significant teaching experience, whereas others may require no special training and little or no teaching experience.
For individuals who would like to teach ESL or EFL, the main options available to gain teaching credentials are certificate courses, undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and add-on endorsements for those who are already certified to teach another subject area. The following chart offers some general parameters for what may be considered the minimum certification requirement for various ESL teaching situations.
to teach K–12 ESL in the United States?
Undergraduate degree in education with add-on ESL endorsement
to teach ESL in higher education in the United States?
Master's in TESOL or M.A. in related field plus a TESOL certificate
to teach adults in the United States?
Bachelor's degree (Master's degree, TESOL certificate, or practical experience preferred)
to teach overseas?
Bachelor's degree and an English language teaching certificate or participation in a volunteer program
A wide variety of certificate programs are offered by universities and private organizations. These programs tend to be less time-intensive than an undergraduate or graduate degree program, and most offer some practical training as well as background instruction in ESL teaching methodology. A small sample of the many certificate programs available are described below.
The Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) is available through language institutes and British Council offices around the world. The CELTA certificate is widely recognized and accepted by employers worldwide. The CELTA program is offered at various universities and language schools throughout the United States. For example, St. Giles College in San Francisco offers a 4-week course to earn the CELTA certificate.
The School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, Vermont, offers a TESOL certificate course that includes workshops, lesson planning, and practice teaching. The course is available at a variety of U.S. and overseas locations. Students can complete this 130-hour course in as few as 4 weeks.
Like the CELTA and SIT programs, the Trinity CertTESOL program is available around the world. The certificate program is run by Trinity College in London and offers intensive courses that run full-time for 4 weeks.
Many universities offer full- and part-time programs on their own campuses through which students may earn a TESL/TEFL certificate. This type of program is designed to give students a theoretical foundation in TESOL and practical classroom experience. Most programs include courses in teaching methods and materials, curriculum design, second language acquisition theory, and linguistics. A teaching practicum course is often offered as well. Most programs are15-18 credits and generally take one year to complete. A bachelor's degree is required for admission to most university certificate programs.
TESL/TEFL certificates may also be earned through courses at private language schools. These programs are usually very short (2 to 5 weeks in duration) and intensive (full-time, Monday through Friday). Courses include teaching methodology, lesson planning, classroom observation, and teaching practice. Many progams offer part-time, evening, and online courses. Most private language schools do not require a bachelor's degree for entrance to their program.
Distance education is another option for many students.Most online programs require the same type of coursework as traditional certificate programs but can be completed at the student's own pace. For example, the TEFL certificate course offered through Open Learning International requires 120 hours of coursework and 8 hours of classroom observation and teaching practice sessions. The duration of the course depends on the student, but it generally takes 6 to 9 months to complete.
Undergraduate programs in TESOL are not very common, but they do exist. For example, Brigham Young University-Hawaii offers a B.A. in TESOL. This is a 4-year undergraduate program that requires 39 credits in courses such as linguistics, teaching reading, second language testing and research, and TESOL methods and materials. Another option to consider at the undergraduate level is a degree in education with an endorsement or specialty area in ESL. Students who are already enrolled or plan to enroll in education programs at the undergraduate level may become fully certified ESL teachers through university programs that offer this specialty.
For those who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in ESL teaching, there are many different programs from which to choose. The vast majority of these programs exist at the Master’s level, although some universities offer doctoral programs as well. Some Master’s degree programs for ESL include K–12 teaching certification, while others do not. Some may be housed in linguistics departments, others in education departments, some in foreign language departments, and still others in separate TESOL departments. The requirements for Master’s degrees in ESL vary quite a bit from program to program, but many require coursework in areas such as linguistics and language acquisition, as well as methods coursework in English language teaching.
Elementary and secondary teachers can often obtain an add-on endorsement certification to teach ESL. Certification requirements are available from state departments of education. The TESOL Web site offers a very helpful listing of contact information for state departments of education.
Volunteer programs can offer opportunities for teaching experience and further education. For those who would like to become volunteer ESL teachers, there are many opportunities available to do so both in the United States and abroad. While some volunteer programs do require previous teaching experience or ESL certification, others do not. Peace Corps offers two programs, the Fellow/USA program and the Master's International program, that provide further educational opportunities to Peace Corps volunteers both during and after their service.
In the United States, a wide variety of organizations offer opportunities to become a volunteer ESL teacher, including community-based programs, religious organizations, and adult literacy organizations. These organizations usually offer ESL classes to adults, although some also provide after-school tutoring or other special classes for younger learners. America's Literacy Directory is an online database that offers information on volunteer opportunities with literacy and education programs around the United States. Volunteer organizations can also be found on the TESOL Web site.
As evidenced in this article, there are many ways to gain certification to teach ESL/EFL. One of the best places to start research on how to enter the TESOL field is the TESOL Web site. The following resources may also be of assistance.
Garshick, E. (Ed.) (2002). Directory
of Teacher Education Programs in TESOL in the United States and Canada,
2002-2004. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers
of Other Languages.
This directory provides information about nearly 400 teacher education programs in the United States and Canada. Entries describe program length, requirements, courses, staff, tuition, fees, admission requirements, and summer sessions. State and provincial requirements for teaching ESL are also included.
Snow, D. (1997). More
Than A Native Speaker: An Introduction for Volunteers Teaching Abroad. Alexandria,
VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
This book offers a nontechnical intoduction to English teaching geared toward English-speaking volunteer teachers working outside their home countries. More Than a Native Speaker covers classroom survival skills, lesson planning, and adaptation to life in a new country, with detailed discussions of how to teach listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, and culture.
Ward, B. (Ed.). (2001). Careers
in English Language Teaching. Los Angeles: American
This book, also know as The CELT Guide, is an excellent resource for people who want to find a job teaching ESL/EFL and for experienced teachers who want to further enhance their careers. The CELT Guide includes practical information on ESL/EFL teacher training programs, career development, and working in the U.S., Canada, and around the world.
The TESOL Web site offers a listing of universities that offer graduate certificates in TESOL and private language school certificate programs.
In each issue of ERIC/CLL Language Link, we feature one or more of the journals that we abstract and index for Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE), the ERIC database's index to education-related journals. In this issue, we profile Language Magazine.
Language Magazine (formerly American Language Review) is a journal of language, education, and communication. Published 12 times a year, Language Magazine offers articles about bilingualism, heritage languages, dialects, foreign language and ESL education, instructional technology, multicultural issues, and practical teaching issues.
These are some recent articles that appeared in Language Magazine.
"Online Teaching Training: Is It For You?" (October 2002)
"Helping Teachers Teach Reading" (June 2002)
"Teacher Training: Accentuating the Positive" (April 2002)
"Teaching Overseas: Wave of the Future" (February 2002)
You can search online for articles from this and other journals indexed in Current Index to Journals in Education.
You can recognize journal abstracts in the ERIC database by their "EJ" prefix followed by a six-digit number. ERIC abstracts can be read at ERIC centers in libraries in the United States and overseas, as well as on the Web.
Subscriptions to the journals indexed in ERIC can be obtained from the publishers. Individual articles from many journals are available from the article reproduction service ingenta: 800-296-2221; www.ingenta.com; email@example.com
Thematic Literature and Curriculum for English Language Learners in Early Childhood Education, by Betty Ansin Smallwood, provides early childhood educators with book selection criteria, literature-based teaching strategies, curricular topics, and book lists for representative topics appropriate for use with ELLs in early childhood settings.
English Language Learners and High-Stakes Tests: An Overview of the Issues, by Bronwyn Coltrane, explores the recent legislation and education initiatives in the United States that have emphasized the role of high-stakes testing. This digest discusses the factors to consider in order to include English language learners in high-stakes tests in ways that are fair and that address their needs.
Heritage Spanish Speakers' Language Learning Strategies, by Zennia Hancock, explores some of the issues involved in the Spanish language learning experiences of heritage Spanish speakers. This digest also describes ways in which educators can facilitate these students’ language development through a better understanding of their language learning strategies and suggests areas in which further research is needed.
Using Cognitive Strategies to Develop English Language and Literacy, by JoAnn Crandall, Ann Jaramillo, Laurie Olsen, and Joy Kreeft Peyton, describes ways to develop students' English language and literacy skills and to make academic content challenging, interesting, and accessible using a variety of cognitive strategies.
ERIC/CLL News Bulletin
The Fall issue of the ERIC/CLL News Bulletin features an article by Lorraine Valdez Pierce on performance based assessment for English language learners. Also, Bronwyn Coltrane explores the new standards for foreign language teaching. Every issue of the News Bulletin includes the latest news from ERIC/CLL, CAL, and our ERIC Partners.
ERIC/CLL has recently compiled an assortment of SNS resources on the Web. This site includes links to projects, books, articles, digests, and resource guides on Spanish for Spanish speakers.
New Book from NCLE
How can instructors working with adult English language learners respond to the demands of funders, employers, and the learners themselves? Read Preparing for Success: A Guide for Teaching Adult English Language Learners to find the answer to this question and ideas for classroom activities and instructional resources that help to ensure that all students will have the language and skills necessary to thrive in employment and in the community.
New Brief on Integrating Workforce and Civic Life Skills
English that Works: Preparing Adult English Language Learners for Success in the Workforce and Community discusses how adult ESL educators can integrate workforce and civic life skills into their curricula and convey these skills to their students through learner-centered instructional strategies and classroom management techniques.
Secretary of Education Rod Paige Visits Mexico City to Sign Binational Agreement, Tour Elementary School
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige traveled to Mexico City on his first foreign trip as secretary to meet with Mexican education officials, tour an elementary school, and formally renew U.S.-Mexico bilateral cooperation in the field of education. Paige was in Mexico City November 24-26 to participate in the United States-Mexico Binational Commission Meeting, which includes a working group on education. This working group is co-chaired by Secretary Paige and his Mexican counterpart, Secretary of Education Reyes Tamez Guerra.
While in Mexico, Paige addressed representatives of the Mexican Congressional Education Committees, members of the higher education community, teachers, and university students. Read more.
Education Secretary Rod Paige Signs Bilateral Agreement with China
to Jointly Build E-Language Project
U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige and Zhou Ji, Vice Minister of Education of The People's Republic of China, signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly build an E-Language Project that will use Web-based technology to help students and educators learn a second language, initially English and Chinese, free of charge on the Internet.
The E-Language Project will address problems faced by many American schools that want to offer foreign language instruction but lack teachers with the requisite language skills. This system will also help schools with large immigrant populations needing English as a second language instruction, a major area of concern in the new No Child Left Behind Act. The E-Language Project will be especially useful for teaching English to Chinese students in the remote and rural areas of China.
The Education Department will contribute a total of $3 million to the U.S.-China E-Language Project through the Star Schools program, which is designed to encourage improved instruction in foreign languages and other subjects and to serve underserved populations, including the disadvantaged, illiterate, and limited English proficient through the use of telecommunications.
Newly Funded Native American Program Grants
The Office of English Language Acquisition recently announced four awards for new grants under the Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program (NAP). NAP grants are awarded to educational institutions that support language instruction for English language learners from Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Native American Pacific Islander backgrounds. The purpose of the NAP grants is to ensure that Native American children master English and meet the same rigorous standards for academic achievement as their peers, and to support, to the extent possible, the native language skills of these children.
Newly Funded National Professional Development Program Grants
The Office of English Language Acquisition recently announced 130 awards for new grants under the National Professional Development Program (NPD). NPD grants are awarded to institutions of higher education in consortia with state or local education agencies. The purpose of NPD grants is to assist educational personnel preparing to serve English language learners in meeting high professional standards and to improve classroom instruction for English language learners.
Department Awards Grants for Research on Reading Comprehension
Department of Education has awarded six grants under the Program for
Research on Reading Comprehension (PRRC) to support studies designed to
provide a scientific foundation for improving reading instruction. Funding
for the six grants will total $6 million over 3 years. Read more.
The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)
Joseph Lo Bianco Named 2002 Ferguson Fellow
Joseph Lo Bianco is the director of Language Australia and professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne. He is a leading expert in matters of language policy and multilingualism and the author of the 1987 study, Australia’s National Policy on Languages. CAL wecomes Joe Lo Bianco as this year's recipient of the Ferguson Fellowship.
Professional Development for Bilingual and ESL Paraprofessionals:
The Aspire Curriculum Trainer's Manual
This trainer's manual provides a professional development curriculum that is designed to teach paraprofessionals (also known as teacher aides or assistants) how to help English language learners succeed in school, meet high standards, and perform well on rigorous state assessments. The manual contains everything needed for the program: workshop agendas, presentation notes, and overhead transparency and handout masters. The program is flexible and may be scheduled in several different ways depending on school and district needs. Order from the CALStore.
New Professional Development Videos
CREDE, the Center for Applied Linguistics, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) have produced two videos for professional development. Both videos are drawn from a 6-year research project conducted by CREDE in conjunction with practicing teachers.
The SIOP Model: Sheltered Instruction for Academic Achievement, a 77-minute video, illustrates the eight components of the SIOP model in detail using extended classroom footage and interviews with six outstanding teachers. It is designed especially for staff development and teacher education. ($75) Order from the CALstore.
The facilitators’ manual for this video, Using the SIOP Model: Professional Development Manual for Sheltered Instruction (Short, Hudec, Echevarria), is now available. ($50) Order from the CALstore.
Helping English Learners Succeed: An Overview of the SIOP Model, a 26-minute video, is an introduction to sheltered instruction that concisely presents the eight SIOP components. Helping English Learners Succeed will be useful to administrators, policy makers, and teachers and will also serve as a fitting supplement in teacher methodology courses. ($50) Order from the CALstore.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-362-0700 for shipping and handling rates and for sales tax in DC and Florida.
Diversity in the 21st Century Conference . . . A Dialogue
Co-sponsored by The Georgia Project and The Georgia Association of Educators
Nov. 18-20, 2002
Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center
This conference focused on creative collaborations that have been and can be forged by sectors of education, government, and business to address challenges in newly diverse communities. Organized to provoke thought and discussion, the conference explored current and future efforts to enhance the many opportunities made available by changing demographics. Speakers included high-level policy makers, educational administrators, researchers, social service providers, and numerous members of the business community.
For more information please visit: www.mcraeco.com/gaproject.html.
Fourth SIOP Institute
December 9-11, 2003
Double Tree Lincoln Center
This dynamic 3-day institute will provide intensive training in a research-based model of sheltered instruction. Participants will learn how to improve the academic achievement of English language learners in elementary, middle, and high schools through the use of the SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) model for teaching content and language. The institute will be led by Dr. Jana Echevarria (Professor, California State University, Long Beach), Dr. MaryEllen Vogt (Professor, California State University, Long Beach), and Dr. Deborah Short (Center for Applied Linguistics).
The National Capital Language Resource Center (NCLRC)
NCLRC's Language Resource
The November issue of NCLRC's newsletter, the Language Resource, is now online.
Summer Course in Iraqi Colloquial Arabic
The National Capital Language Resource Center invites students of intermediate-level Modern Standard Arabic to participate in a summer course in Iraqi Colloquial Arabic at Georgetown University. This intensive 3-week course will be taught by Dr. Margaret Nydell and will run from May 19 through June 6, 2003. The cost is $1,800. For further information, contact Dr. Nydell at 202-687-5650 or email@example.com; Karin Ryding at firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Georgetown Registrar at 202-687-4020.
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
ESL Standards for P-12 Teacher Education Programs
The ESL Standards for P-12 Teacher Education Programs were approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the TESOL Board of Directors in October, 2002. They are now available at TESOL's Web site. They are are also posted on the NCATE Web site for institutes of higher education to use.
Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL)
Summer Study Abroad Scholarships
NECTFL is offering summer study abroad scholarships for French, German, and Spanish teachers. Scholarship applications can be downloaded online.
International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT)
Graduate Student Conference Grants
IALLT is offering three $500 graduate student conference grants to assist students in attending the IALLT biennial conference to take place June 17-21, 2003. All graduate students sufficiently advanced in their postgraduate work to have a demonstrated commitment to supporting, researching, or practicing the use of technology in second language acquisition are eligible to apply. Applicants should complete the online application form and arrange for two letters of support from persons with permanent university or equivalent positions who are qualified to evaluate the applicant’s suitability for the award. Find more information at the IALLT Web site.
Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)
New Web Site on Speech Acts for Teachers and Researchers
A new Web site, Improving
Language Learning through the Teaching of Speech Acts, has been added
as a component of the CARLA Web site. It provides a collection of descriptions
of speech acts as revealed through empirical research. It is designed to
help language teachers and advanced learners to be more aware of the sociocultural
use of the language they are teaching or learning. It also provides an
empirical resource for materials developers on which to base their future
materials development for second language learners.
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