What is TESOL?

The certification for teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) is a useful credential for those who wish to teach both domestically and abroad. TEFL and TESL are also a part of this broader course of study, but more specifically focused on teaching English in regions where it is not commonly spoken. In the article below, we explore the requirements and attributes of TESOL certifications for those who wish to pursue this course of study.

The Basics of TESOL Programs

Many programs fall between TEFL and TESOL requirements, but these are commonly a part of education degrees at the bachelor’s or master’s levels. They are not complete or stand-alone certification programs but offer a broad sampling of the skills and bases of knowledge needed for teaching English to non-English speakers in various contexts.

Independent programs in TESOL typically run 130 to 140 credit hours and provide a foundation in pedagogy as well as the theory and practice of English language teaching. Individuals enroll in these programs as the next step in their educational journey and already possess sufficient degrees for teaching or administrative positions.

Core programs of this variety are offered by the official TESOL institution and incorporate both virtual and real world lessons. Those who enroll in this type of certification process are advised that the entire course offering can be completed in six to eleven months with a weekly devotion of about ten hours per week. They are required to check in with their virtual classrooms at least every other day and are graded on a pass or fail basis.

Why TESOL Programs Matter

It’s estimated that two out of five teachers in the United States will leave the profession within the first five years. This means school children are regularly exposed to novice teachers. Because new teachers are immersed in a dynamic and cosmopolitan classroom environment, TESOL programs are vital. They provide a greater breadth and depth of understanding when it comes to instructing English language learners (ELL).

Teaching English to speakers of other languages certification also offers both established teachers and those seriously approaching the profession a critical empathy for the particular struggles of ELL. Pedagogy is often tied to developmental milestones in elementary and secondary educational contexts. TESOL programs incorporate these considerations into their courses, so teachers are prepared to set manageable goals for ELL classrooms at any level.

Language capabilities and needs vary from one age to the next and are dependent upon neurological complexity and development. TOEFL courses prepare teachers for the social and emotional stressors that assail their students during their educational experience, which may vary depending on their home cultures and the cultural context of the educational environment. These factors each impact student proficiency in multiple ways. New teachers and experienced educators alike must stay abreast of ways in which they can successfully inculcate their ELL students.

Because there are some programs, additional certificates, and degrees that offer some aspects of TOEFL education, individuals should be clear about their needs and goals before selecting one. While those who wish to embark upon a career of teaching abroad will benefit from these certifications, it even enriches teachers who plan to remain in the domestic educational sphere. Teaching English to speakers of other languages offers pedagogical training, cultural insight, and understanding of developmental milestones in language learning that are beneficial to any teacher.