Frequently Asked Questions
Are you considering a TESOL career? We have compiled a series of FAQs to answer many of your questions.
Training requirements vary between programs and agencies. Here are some of the most common. Of course the more training you have, the easier it is to find work in your desired setting. The following charts explain the training types and what agencies typically require.
- K-12 Certification in ESOL: Offered through universities and state departments of education in preparation for teaching kids. May include a graduate degree. In Maryland, bachelor’s level courses may be used to meet the requirements, although this is less common for ESOL teachers. A bachelor’s degree is always required and a master’s degree is strongly preferred. K-12 teachers certified in another area may re-certify for ESOL by taking the Praxis exam.
- Master’s degree in TESOL or Applied Linguistics: Offered by universities. Often most of the courses meet K-12 certification requirements and many people who are seeking to teach in K-12 opt for this route.
- Graduate Certificate Program: Offered by universities. A shorter graduate level program, many people choose this route who are not interested in a full Master’s degree but are interested in working in the field.
- Certificate programs: There is no universally accepted TESOL certificate for teaching adults. There is only one local program offered by a private language training school. Cambridge has a program (called the CELTA) that is more widely recognized overseas. The professional organization TESOL does not endorse any of these programs in particular. These programs are typically very practical in nature and emphasize the practice of teaching over the theory. Private certificate programs of this sort are not accepted for K-12 certification.
- In-house training: Some programs have their own in-house training programs that may be required for work in that setting.
- School Systems:
- K-12, usually require K-12 certification in ESOL + MA. Full-time.
- Adult ESOL/ESL, usually requires BA with training and experience, Part-time. Many adult ESOL programs have moved to Community Colleges.
- Community/Faith Bases Organizations:
- Adult ESOL/ESL, BA preferred. Training and experience preferred, but may not be required. HS diploma may be fine for volunteers. Part-time.
- Community Colleges:
- Noncredit adult ESOL/ESL life skills, literacy, and vocational programs. BA with significant training (certificate). MA preferred. Part-time
- Noncredit pre-academic ESL, MA required, Part-time
- Credit academic ESL, MA required, Full-time. These programs focus on preparing students to enter degree programs.
- Credit academic ESL, MA required, Full time. University programs are typically for students who come to the U.S. only to study.
- Private Schools (e.g. Berlitz, Lado):
- ESL for travelers, business people, and sometimes immigrants. BA with training and experience. May require in-house training. MA preferred. Part-time. Curriculum can vary greatly from program to program.
- Workplace ESL, training requirements vary, and a significant amount of curriculum development may be required. Part-time.
TESOL Training Institute
Nancy NewtonSpecial Programs Director