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Earn a Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

English is one of the most widely used languages in the world. The fields of science, commerce, aviation, and education (among others) all require a strong knowledge of the English language. If you have ever struggled learning a second language, you can understand what non-native English speakers go through on their quest to learn, understand, and use English on a daily basis.
An education in TESOL enables individuals to work with second language learners in the United States or work internationally teaching English. Both industrialized and developing countries often require their students to learn English as a second language in school. Refugees and immigrants to English speaking countries will need to learn and refine their English language skills as they establish themselves in their new homeland. There is thus a considerable demand for qualified teachers of English, both in the United States and abroad. The majority of TESOL jobs will be offered in educational settings including primary, secondary, and postsecondary schools. Yet, there are also a wide variety of jobs in nontraditional educational settings such as corporate trainings, nonprofit organizations, and government-sponsored programs.

TESOL Certification

A TESOL certification can be earned independently or in conjunction with a degree seeking program. Earning a certificate independently from a degree seeking program can typically be accomplished in one year or less. Earning a degree in TESOL will open up a wide range of teaching and employment opportunities above and beyond what is available with a standalone certification. Pay also significantly increases with the addition of a degree and increases even further with an advanced degree.

TESOL degrees are offered at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. Online only programs are common. TESOL degrees offered in conjunction with state teacher preparation programs are also readily available.

Associate Degree in TESOL

Often offered as an Associate of Arts degree, an Associate Degree in TESOL prepares students for teaching communicative English language. This introductory degree in TESOL explores linguistic, grammatical, and pedagogical studies of language development and teaching English to non-native speakers.

Please note that programs may refer to their TESOL degree by a variety of acronyms such as:
  • TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • ELL: English Language Learners
  • SLA: Second Language Acquisition
  • TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language
  • ENL: English as a ​New ​Language
  • ESL: English as a Second Language
  • ESOL: English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • ELA: English Language Acquisition

Bachelor’s Degree in TESOL

While earning an undergraduate degree in TESOL, students will learn to proficiently teach grammar, pronunciation, and context to English language learners. Students will explore ways to adapt English language instruction to a variety of institutional, situational, cultural, and student-specific contexts.

Jobs with a Bachelor’s in TESOL

  • Adult TESOL teacher - Instructs adults in basic skills, such as reading and speaking English. Adult TESOL teachers also help students earn their high school equivalent diploma. Instructing adults in TESOL usually does not require a state teacher certification. Median Annual Salary: $54,000.
  • Elementary TESOL teacher - Instructs young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling. Most public school districts will require a state teacher certification (provisional or otherwise) in addition to a TESOL degree or certification. Median Annual Salary: $59,000.

Master’s Degree in TESOL

Take your education to the next level by earning a graduate degree in TESOL! Students will delve in depth into the linguistic, grammatical, and pedagogical studies of language development and teaching English to non-native speakers. Master’s degree programs often have a specialty focus such as a particular native language population or teaching specific student populations (such as primary, secondary, or post-secondary students).

Jobs with a Master’s in TESOL

  • Training specialist - Plans and administers programs that improve the language skills and general knowledge of their employees. Median Annual Salary: $61,000.
  • Postsecondary teacher - Instructs college students in TESOL classes. Median Annual Salary: $80,000.

GI Bill Approved Colleges with Degrees in TESOL

Ready to get started on a degree Teaching English to Speakers to Other Languages? Check out these great programs, some of which may available at our partner schools.