Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language

(TESL Cert. & ESL Program Specialist Certificate)

The Certificate in TESL provides an introduction into teaching English to speakers of other languages. The Certificate is primarily designed to qualify pre-certified teachers to teach ESL in Pennsylvania public schools, in cases where a primary teaching certification is already in place at the time of application to the program and is approved by Pennsylvania Department of Education. The course sequence may also be geared to prepare graduates for EFL or ESL teaching outside of PK-12 public school contexts in the U.S. and abroad. 

The Certificate in TESL applicants planning to teach ESL in PA public schools (that is applying for PDE ESL Program Specialist (PDEEPS) Certificate) should have previously student taught and earned formal (stand-alone) certification from the PDE in another area before entering this program. Applicants to PDEEPS are required to first earn Instructional I certification in an alternate subject area (e.g., K-12 Spanish or French, Secondary English, Social Studies) recognized by the PDE in order to apply for the necessary qualification for teaching ESL in the public schools in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Department of Education

CAEP Accredited Provider - Excellence in Educator Preparation Accreditation

TESOL International Association

Admission Requirements and Curriculum

Admission Requirements

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.    Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited in the United States or its equivalent from a school in another country. A minimum 2.80/4.0 undergraduate GPA is required. 

2.    Prior "Introduction to Linguistics" coursework (subject to approval by a TESOL program adviser). Applicants who do not meet this criterion will be offered provisional admission to the program and be required to take LIN 501 during the fall semester in order to gain full admission status;

3.    Proficiency in English. Applicants whose native language is not English must submit an official report from one of the following organizations:

o    TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) - applicants must score a minimum of 92 for the internet-based exam (237 for the computer-based exam, 580 for the paper-based exam); or

o    IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) - applicants must receive an overall IELTS score at band 6.5 or above, and minimum scores of 6.5 for speaking, listening, reading and writing are preferred.

o    In addition, for students in the ESL Program Specialist Certificate Program (PDEEPS), applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English via the ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) test called the "English Language Oral Proficiency Interview" (OPI). 

4.    GRE scores are not required for application or admission to TESOL Programs at WCU.

5.    Teaching Certification (if planning to teach ESL in PA public schools)


Further information is provided in the Program Handbook.

Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) (18 semester hours)
Required courses (18 semester hours)
    • LIN 501 (Introduction to Linguistics) 
    • *LAN 504 (Techniques of Teaching English as a Second Language)
    • LAN 584 (Teaching Reading and Writing to ESL students)
    • *LAN 569 (Teaching English Language Learners PK-12)
    • LAN 575 (Structure of Modern English)
    • *LAN 576 (Curriculum and Materials for TESOL)

[* Denotes courses with field experience. Clearances must be completed before starting any courses which involve field experiences in public schools in Pennsylvania]

Application Materials

Application Materials

A complete application to the Certificate in TESL program consists of the following: 

1.    Completed application - Applicants may apply online with a rolling deadline at: www.wcupa.edu/applynow

2.    Official transcripts from every college and university attended 

3.    A written statement of professional goals 

4.    Two letters of recommendation 

5.    Resume 

6.    Documented background in the following areas:

o    Minimum 2.80/4.0 undergraduate GPA 

o     “Introduction to Linguistics” coursework (subject to approval). Applicants who do not meet this criterion will be offered provisional admission. 

o     Proficiency in English. Non-native speakers of English must submit a TOEFL score of 92 or IELTS score of 6.5 

7.    Teaching Certification (if planning to teach ESL in PA public schools)

Course Descriptions

Symbols: ENG (English), LAN (Languages and Cultures), LIN (Linguistics)

  • ·         LAN 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.

    ·         LAN 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.

    ·         LAN 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.

    ·         LAN 500 Methods and Materials of Research in Second Language Education (3) Techniques of research in language education, including sources, design, interpretation, evaluation, and reporting of data.

    ·         LAN 504 Techniques of Teaching English as a Second Language (3) Advanced course in recent theoretical bases, methods for teaching beginning and advanced levels, curriculum design, and evaluation. PREREQ: LIN 501 or permission of equivalent. PREREQ: LIN 501 or permission of instructor.”

    ·         LAN 505 Introduction to Bilingual/Bicultural Education (3) Introduction to history, philosophy, current status, and future directions of bilingual/ bicultural education. Survey of materials, tests, techniques, instructional processes, and instructional patterns. Overview of testing, placement, and student evaluation.

  • ·         LAN 550 Classroom Discourse (3) A general introduction to the study of classroom discourse. Through critical reading analyses of a body of classic and current work, students will become familiar with how systematic analyses of classroom interaction are conducted in a variety of classroom contexts that include but are not limited to ESL (English as a Second Language) settings. 

    ·         LAN 555 Computer Applications for Language Learning (3) Examination of theory and practice in using and designing computer-based learning content for language learning. Application of various technological tools to language teaching. 

    ·         LAN 557 Online Language Teacher Education (3) Introduction to theory and practice in online language teacher education: current practices in designing, implementing, and assessing online language teaching. 

    ·         LAN 569 Teaching English Language Learners PK-12 (3) Examination of issues and the application of techniques, strategies, materials for meeting the needs of English Language learners (ELLs) in inclusive classrooms. Includes a field component.

    ·         LAN 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.

    ·         LAN 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.

    ·         LAN 578 Teaching Listening and Speaking to ESL/Second Language Learners (3) Survey of theory and practice in the teaching of listening and speaking to second/foreign language learners. Examination of skills critical to academic success for English language learners: clarity of pronunciation, effective participation in conversations, and fluency. 

    ·         LAN 579 Teaching Pronunciation to English Language Learners (3) Overview of the phonetic features of North American English (NAE), which relate to teaching of English as a second/foreign language. Focuses on the segmental and suprasegmental elements of NAE. Examines current approaches to teaching pronunciation. PREREQ: LIN 501 or permission of equivalent.     

    ·         LAN 580 Seminar in Second Language (3) Specialized workshop seminar devoted to a particular area of foreign language education.

    ·         LAN 581 Implicit/Explicit Instruction and Corrective Feedback (3) Examination of knowledge of implicit and explicit learning systems which are used in second and foreign language learning. Discusses corrective feedback in relation to the linguistic domains of syntax, semantics, morphology, phonology, and pragmatics. PREREQ: LIN 501 or permission of equivalent.

    ·         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.

    ·         LAN 584 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.

    ·         LAN 588 Second Language (L2) Vocabulary Learning and Teaching (3) Examination of second-language vocabulary acquisition and use through published reports and corpus analysis. Focuses on learning and practicing current methods of teaching vocabulary as well as assessing vocabulary knowledge.

    ·         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.

    ·         LIN 540 Sociolinguistics (3) The study of language in its social context: the ethnography of communication; language and society, social classes, ethnic groups, politics, sex, and education. PREREQ: LIN 501 or permission of instructor.