For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Teaching Certification

Drexel University School of Education - Online

A significant demand for well-trained English as a second language (ESL) teachers exists throughout the United States. In areas such as education, business, hospitality and many more, the opportunities to teach English as a Second Language abound.

Drexel’s accelerated 10 week summer certification in Teaching English as a Second Language* (also referred to as a TESL or ESL Certification), approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, provides a strong foundation for second language acquisition.

ESL Certification Courses & Curriculum

The 13.5-credit English as a Second Language (ESL)​ teaching certification program is taught by expert faculty who integrate readings, discussion, practicum, and case study experience throughout the program.

Curriculum covers the theory and practice of second language education, the structure and sound of English, the design and assessment of ESL course materials, as well as broader issues in intercultural learning. It does not require that the instructor speak another language.

Courses include:

  • EDUC 602 - Language Learning & Teaching (3 credits)
  • EDUC 604 - Structure and Sound System of English (3 credits)
  • EDUC 606 - Design and Assessment (3 credits)
  • EDUC 608 - The Intercultural Leader (4.5 credits)

Approximately 30 hours of field experiences are required over the summer and must take place in an approved setting with ELLs whose first language is not English. Drexel University School of Education’s Field Placement Office coordinates all student placements requests. All students are required to submit the appropriate field experience application and all required clearances after acceptance into the TESL program.

C​redits earned through this online TESL certification program may be applied toward the MS in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum and MS in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum: Advanced Teaching Track​.

Course descriptions may be found in the Drexel University Course Catalog​.

How Long Does It Take to Complete ESL Teaching Certification?

The program coursework and field experiences can be completed in as little as 10 weeks during the summer term. Students typically take all four courses together; however custom plans of study can be created to spread out the coursework over two summer terms. Drexel University utilizes a quarter system with each academic term lasting 10 weeks plus an additional week for final exams.

ESL Teaching Certification Program Requirements

Teaching English as a second language in Pennsylvania requires the Program Specialist: ESL certificate.

This online ESL program satisfies PA Department State of Education’s requirements for the PA ESL Specialist endorsement for certification in Teaching English as a Second Language to any candidate who holds a PA Instructional I or II certification. Upon completion of the course and fieldwork required of the program, the student may then apply for PA ESL Specialist certification on Pennsylvania 's TIMS system.

Teaching English as a Second Language requirements vary state by state; applicants from outside PA should consult with their state Department of Education prior to enrolling in our program for specific interstate agreement requirements.

How to Apply to the ESL Teaching Certification Program at Drexel University

The Teaching English as a Second Language Certification program is taught 100% online. You can get started by filling out the Drexel Online application. To review additional program information, visit Drexel Online, or request information.​ Students must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

To complete you application to the program, you will need to provide a following materials:

  • A completed application
  • Official transcripts from all universities or colleges and other post-secondary educational institutions (including trade schools) attended
  • Two letters of recommendation (professional or academic)
  • Resume
  • Essay (1000 to 1500 words) describing why you're interested in pursuing the program

ESL Certification Frequently Asked Questions

What is an ESL Specialist Certification?

English as a Second Language (ESL) Specialist certification is an add-on certification for licensed teachers that allow them to help non-English speakers to learn, speak, read, and write in English. Certified ESL teachers apply best practices in helping students understand the complexities of the English language and communicate effectively in English.

What is the difference between ESL and TEFL?

The main difference between ESL and TEFL is location. Teachers who are teaching English to non-native speakers in countries where English is the primary language spoken are known as English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers. An English teacher who is teaching English to non-native speakers in a country where English is not the primary language spoken would be referred to as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) educator.

Do you need a degree to be an ESL teacher?

Most states require ESL teachers to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, preferably in education, English or a field related to teaching English to non-native speakers. In Pennsylvania, ESL Specialist is an add-on certification for licensed teachers, meaning you must first obtain teaching certification before you can add ESL certification.

Are ESL teachers in demand?

With more and more children speaking languages other than English in the home, the need for ESL teachers has risen. Currently, there is a national shortage of ESL teachers.

What can I do with an ESL Certification?

ESL certified teachers can teach English to non-native speakers in grades K-12. They may teach classes in public, private and parochial schools or in organization/government settings.

*NOTE: The Drexel TESL credential is designed as an add-on credential for certified teachers working in U.S. elementary and secondary schools. It is not designed for teaching English outside the United States and may not be modified to do so.

While some of the theory and pedagogical approaches for teaching English language learners is the same, the school contexts and the experience of students and their families is very different in an immigrant context such as the U.S. as opposed to an international setting where English is a foreign language.

Further, the course curricula, readings, and assignments in the Drexel TESL credential assume the U.S. school context, including current standards, testing mandates and curricular approaches.