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Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Department of Literature and Language

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

English is in increasing demand worldwide. Moreover, given that the area covering the NE corner of Tennessee and parts of North Carolina and Virginia has one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the US, the need for English as a second language (ESL) is also very real locally.

Our program prepares graduate students to teach ESL overseas and in US settings such as adult education programs. Students who wish to teach ESL in community colleges can simultaneously pursue the TESOL certificate and an M.A. in English if they meet the admission requirements for both programs. Note that admission to the M.A. program normally requires a B.A. in English, while the certificate program accepts bachelor's degrees in other fields.

The certificate course has the following specific objectives:

  • The students will understand the process of learning a second language.
  • The students will be able to design and implement English courses that meet the needs of English learners in adult education programs and institutes of higher learning.
  • The students will develop a view of themselves as professionals in the specialized field of teaching English as a second language and will understand the basis of continuing professional development in this field.

The course is not appropriate for students wishing to teach K-12 ESL in US public schools. (It is appropriate for students wishing to teach adult and tertiary-level ESL, including in US public institutions.)

For an explanation of the difference between the certificate and the ESL endorsement, click here.


Students must complete a total of 18 credit hours, of which 15 will result from required courses (listed below) and three from one or more elective courses. A minimum grade of C is required in each course.

Required Courses

ENGL 4117/5117 Grammar and Usage (3)
ENGL 5150 Sound Systems of English (3)
ENGL 5170 Teaching English as a Second Language (3)
ENGL 5180 Internship in Teaching ESL (3)
ENGL 5190 Second Language Acquisition (3)

Elective Courses

Students must complete three credit hours from the list of courses below; other courses are acceptable if approved by the student's advisor.

ENGL 5950 Methods of Research (3)
ENGL 5680 Seminar in Linguistics (3)
HDAL 5200 Advanced Educational Psychology (3)
HDAL 5356 Language Development in Early Childhood (3)
MEDA 5696 Application of Instructional Technology (3)
CUAI 4437/5437 ESL Assessment and Testing (2)
CUAI 4447-5447 ESL Reading and Instruction (2)
CUAI 4467-5467 ESL Methods and Techniques (K-12) (2)
READ 5190 Linguistics of Reading (3)

(ENGL 5680 and ENGL 5950 may also be applied toward the M. A.)

Program Admission Requirements

A student applying to the TESOL certificate program should have the following:

1. a bachelor's degree with at least 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale)

2. two years of coursework or basic proficiency in a foreign language

3. two letters of recommendation

A student who wishes to pursue an M. A. in addition to the certificate also needs to meet the requirements for admission to that program; admission into the certificate program does not entail admission into the M. A. program, even though many of the certificate courses can be applied to the M. A.

Geoff in Illuminated

See an interview with Geoff Adebonojo, a recent graduate of the TESOL program who is now teaching in Japan, in Illuminated.

To apply


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