Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)

103 Main Hall
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Dr. Moholt, Coordinator

Professors [top]

Garrett G. Molholt, Ph.D. (English)
Frederick R. Patton, Ph.D. (Languages and Cultures)

Associate Professors

Maria José Cabrera, Ph.D., (Languages and Cultures)
Charles E. Grove, Ph.D. (Languages and Cultures)
Andrea Varricchio, Ph.D. (Languages and Cultures)

Assistant Professor

Chui Kian (Esther) Smidt, Ph.D. (Languages and Cultures)

Programs of Study [top]

The master of arts in teaching English as a second language is an interdisciplinary program contributed to by the departments of English, Languages and Cultures, Anthropology and Sociology, Communication Studies, and Philosophy. The program is designed for those preparing to teach English to students whose first language is not English; graduates of this program are also prepared to design ESL/EFL curriculum and to assess the linguistic development of second language students. Students wishing to enter the program must consult the coordinator. Also offered is the certificate of preparation in ESL teaching, a graduate program that leads to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s qualification for teaching ESL PK-12 in the public schools. The certificate courses may be applied toward the M.A. in TESL. Provided that entering students are precertified in a stand-alone area, this certificate qualifies graduates for public school ESL teaching in Pennsylvania. Both the M.A. and certificate programs provide background in linguistics, sociolinguistics and culture, and teaching methodology in TESL.

Admission Requirements [top]

In addition to meeting the general requirements for admission to a graduate program at West Chester, applicants must document background in the following areas: (1) Introduction to Linguistics (subject to approval by a TESL program adviser); (2) 24 semester hours of a second language/English/linguistics/philosophy/communications; (3) six semester hours of anthropology/sociology/psychology; (4) experience in learning a second language; (5) proficiency in English. A minimum TOEFL score of 580 is required of all non-native speakers of English for admission to the TESL program. Students with a TOEFL score slightly lower than 580 may be admitted provisionally to the TESL program. Provisionally admitted students will, in consultation with their adviser, select additional English language courses in order to meet this language proficiency requirement by the time of degree candidacy (after 12-15 credits).

Students who do not meet the second language or linguistics background requirements upon application for admission may be admitted provisionally and, in consultation with their adviser, will select additional courses in order to satisfy these requirements by the time of degree candidacy (after 12-15 credits). Students must pass an oral and written comprehensive examination before graduating.

M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)

Curriculum (36 semester hours)

  1. Required courses (24 semester hours)
    ENG 575, 576, 581, 587; ENG/LAN 582 or LIN 540; ENG/LAN 583; LAN 500, 503
    Students submitting equivalent courses for any of the above may substitute, under advisement, courses from the electives below.
  2. Electives (12 semester hours)
    Selected from the electives below. At least one course must be selected from Group 1 and one from Group 2.
    Group 1: ENG 577, 579, 582*, 589 (seminar with a linguistic focus); LIN 503, 540; LIN/COM 515 (or other LIN/COM courses)
    Group 2: ENG 580, 586, 588, 589 (seminar with a methodology focus), 610, 611; ENG/LAN 612; LAN 504, 505, 580, 590, 600; LIN 504, 505, 512, and 590

*Either ENG 582 or LIN 540 required; the other course may count as a Group 1 elective; additional courses may be used as electives subject to approval by the graduate coordinator.

Certificate of Preparation in ESL Teaching

Curriculum (18 semester hours)

  1. Required courses (18 semester hours)
    ENG 569, 575, 576; LAN 500, 503; LIN 540

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.


Teaching English as a Second Language
Symbols: ENG (English), LAN (Languages and Cultures), LIN (Linguistics)

ENG 575 Structure of Modern English (3) Analysis of the details and system of English grammar. Consideration of alternate approaches in analyzing English sentences. Application of analyses to grammar instruction.

ENG 576 Curriculum and Materials for TESL (3) Application of basic second language learning principles to the analysis, development, and implementation of ESL materials, learner assessment instruments, and curriculum design.

ENG 579 History and Dialects of American English (3) Exploration of the historical, cultural, social, and linguistic conditions and processes contributing to the development of varieties of American English. Linguistic and sociolinguistic analysis of varieties of American English, including regional, social, and gender varieties, as well as register. Consideration of implications of nonstandard language varieties for education.

ENG 581 Teaching Reading and Writing to ESL/Second Language Students (3) ESL/second language reading and writing research and theory; connections to first language/literacy models; techniques, materials, and tasks that facilitate the acquisition of ESL/second language literacy.

ENG/LAN 582 Sociolinguistic Issues in ESL/Second Language Education (3) Introduction to social, historical, legal, and cultural issues influencing language use and language learning in language minority communities, schools, and homes. Introduction to issues in bilingual education and language programs for immigrants around the world.

ENG/LAN 583 Second Language Acquisition (SLA) (3) Introduction to key issues in SLA research and theory. Analysis of SLA studies and connection to second language teaching. Design of original mini-study of second language learning.

ENG 586 Field Experiences and Issues in ESL Teaching (3) Provides opportunities for students to observe ESL instruction in a variety of settings, as well as assist ESL instructors in the classroom, including elementary, secondary, university, and adult community programs. Discussion and projects allow students to connect their experiences and observations to current TESL theory and trends introduced in course readings.

ENG 587 ESL Practicum I (1-6) Assists students in developing ESL teaching skills. Encourages reflection on practice and examination of personal beliefs on practice.

ENG 588 ESL Practicum II (1-3) This course is designed for graduate students and ESL professionals who desire additional practical experience in ESL contexts. Special topics covered include some of the following: program design, teacher development and supervision, and materials writing.

ENG 610 Teaching ESL/Second Language to Elementary/Secondary Students (3) Focuses on special language-learning needs of ESL/second language students in elementary, middle, and high school, as well as on trends in teaching second language to these groups, including literature-based, theme-based, and vocationally oriented instruction.

ENG 611 Content-Based ESL/Second Language Instruction (3) Designed for teachers of content areas, as well as for ESL/second language teachers. Examines program models, curriculum design, materials adaptation, and evaluation/assessment that combine language and content. Students consider shortcomings of this second language teaching trend.

ENG/LAN 612 Assessment of ESL/Second Language Students (3) Selection, evaluation, adaptation, and creation of assessment instruments for ESL/second language students. Practice in administering tests and interpreting results. Overview of issues in assessing second language students.

LIN501 Introduction to Linguistics (3) Analysis and characterization of what humans know when they know a language, including knowledge of the sound, word formation, sentence structure, meaning, and pragmatic systems. Development of tools and skills for describing and analyzing language. Application of linguistic principles to such cross-disciplinary studies of language as sociolinguistics, language classification, and language acquisition.