Are you looking for great ESL or TESOL graduate programs? Do you have a passion for teaching, and want to help speakers of other languages develop their skills speaking and writing English comfortably? If you want to help English language learners (or ELL) develop sufficient fluency to be successful in English-speaking settings, a TESOL program might be a great option for you. Whether you’re already teaching English to ELLs, or whether you want to pursue a new career, great graduate programs may be out there for you.
Choosing Great TESOL and ESL Graduate Programs
So you’ve decided you want to pursue TESOL or ESL graduate programs. With all the options out there, how do you know which may be a good fit for you? TESOL, which stands for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, encompasses a wide variety of areas, from early childhood to adult learners, both domestic and abroad. Depending on your level of education and professional goals, you might be able to find great programs that meet your needs.
ESL and TESOL Graduate Programs Basics
Several different types of programs and focuses might be available within the larger scope of TESOL programs. Understanding the differences between each of these might help you to narrow down the programs you consider. Here are some common terms and focus areas you might encounter:
- TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. This generally refers to people who may live in an English-speaking community, such as the majority of the United States, but whose primary language is not English. This frequently refers to students in the K-12 age group.
- TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This refers to teaching students living in non-English speaking communities or foreign countries to speak English. This might be in an international school setting, with an organization, in an international university setting, or even within corporations.
- ESOL stands for English to Speakers of Other Languages. While this has a lot in common with TESL, this often refers to programs outside the K-12 setting, such as classes for adult students either in a college or night school setting or otherwise.
While these definitions are a great starting point, it is important to note that they may vary when applied in different communities, such as using ESOL and TESL interchangeably. It is important to follow up with your program to be sure of all the relevant details.
Other important considerations when choosing the focus of your preferred TESOL graduate programs is the age group you may want to work with. While not all programs may focus on specific age groups, if you are particularly interested in working with a certain population or group, such as early childhood education, secondary education, urban education, or some other relevant category, you may be able to find TESOL graduate programsthat allows you to pursue that interest.
Types of TESOL and ESL Graduate Programs
Identifying the particular focus of your ideal TESOL graduate programs isn’t the only part of the decision. You may still have to choose your preferred degree type. Whether you’re looking for master’s programs, doctoral programs, or at earning a graduate certificate, your preferred schools may award different types of degrees upon completion of their programs.
Earn your Masters in TESOL and ESL
If you’re looking for TESOL master’s programs or ESL master’s programs, you might already have professional experience, or you may be pursuing a new career. Whatever the situation, there are a few things you may want to consider. For example, you may prefer to choose a program that includes some kind of practical experience element, such as an internship or student teaching opportunity, allowing you to practice your skills in the real world under the guidance of a cooperating teacher. Many such programs may also want you to complete a capstone project or portfolio, which might include classroom materials, lesson plans, assignments, and other useful elements. On the other hand, if you want to teach in a university setting, want to attend a doctoral program, or if you are more interested in pursuing research into linguistics and language acquisition, you may want to choose a program to earn your master’s in TESOL that requires a thesis or other research requirement.
Several different types of TESOL master’s programs might be available for you to consider:
- M.A. and M.S. programs might be offered by a variety of different schools and in a variety of settings. These programs are likely to vary on an individual basis, so if you have specific preferences, it’s important to follow up with your preferred institutions.
- M.A.T. programs, or Master of Arts in Teaching, may vary by program, but might focus on elements like pedagogy and effective classroom teaching strategies. Often, these programs are oriented toward either those pursuing a career as a classroom teacher, or those who already work in the classroom and are looking to broaden their skill set with a graduate degree.
- M.Ed. programs may have a lot in common with M.A.T. programs. Both focus on studying education in particular. However, some M.Ed. programs may instead focus on studying education from a slightly different perspective, such as on an administrative level within a school or district, or other applications outside the classroom.
Remember, once you have identified your preferred TESOL and ESL master’s programs, it is important to follow up regarding the specific details, focuses, and qualities of each program, as the specifics might vary on a case by case basis.
TESOL Doctoral Programs
If you already have your ESL master’s degree or TESOL master’s degree, you might be interested in pursuing your doctorate. TESOL or ESL doctoral programs might be a great fit for you, both if you want to expand your expertise within your current career area, or if you are considering a new direction. While in general, doctoral programs may involve participation in research activity from students, the specifics of the programs may vary, both by program type and by individual school. The two main TESOL doctoral programs you might find yourself choosing between are Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs.
While individual differences are likely to vary between program, institution, and course of study, in general, education-related Ph.D. programs may be oriented toward performing research regarding education, and as such, might focus, in addition to the practical side of TESOL, on the body of research behind it as well as on performing said research. Ph.D. programs might have a variety of real world applications, whether you want to continue working in the classroom, engage in research, teach in a university setting, or something else entirely.
On the other hand, Ed.D. programs (or Doctor of Education) might focus more strongly on the understand of and practical application of that research in an education setting. These programs might help to prepare you to use data to make decisions to help a classroom or school become a more effective learning environment for ELLs.
ESL and TESOL Graduate Certificates
If you’re not looking for a full graduate degree program, but still want to increase your TESOL expertise at the graduate level, you might want to consider earning a TESOL graduate certificate. Graduate certificate programs in TESOL might be available at the master’s and post-master’s levels, meaning that you may be able to find a graduate certificate program to meet your needs.
Graduate certificate programs might allow you to focus on a specific topic of study more narrowly. Within TESOL, this might include examples like assessment, pedagogy, language acquisition, specific populations, and other areas of interest. As such, it’s important to follow up with your preferred programs for specific details, as these may vary accordingly between institutions.
ESL and TESOL Graduate Program Formats
Depending on your learning style and particular needs, finding a program in the right format might be an important aspect of choosing a graduate school to pursue your TESOL degree or certificate. Whether you need a program with ultimate flexibility to fit into your work and home life, or you want something more structure, a great program might be out there for you.
On Campus ESL Graduate Programs
If you learn best in a structured, traditional classroom environment, choosing an on-campus TESOL graduate program may be a good decision for you. Studying on campus may offer you a variety of benefits to help you be successful. For example, learning in the traditional classroom may allow you to interact directly with your professor and fellow students, and to participate in classroom debates, collaborate with your peers, and more. You may also be able to take advantage of campus resources, like the library and technology labs, career and academic counseling, and even networking opportunities.
Online TESOL Graduate Programs
If you’re looking for a more flexible option for to earn your TESOL graduate degree, online options might be a good choice for you. Increasingly available, online graduate programs bring together many of the advantages of the traditional classroom with the flexibility of the online space. Two different types of online programs may be available.
- Synchronous online programs may require students to log into online course modules on an established schedule, similar to campus courses, to participate in activities like live streamed lectures, discussions, and other activities and requirements. If you are looking for an online program that more closely emulates the campus experience, this might be a good choice for you.
- Asynchronous programs, on the other hand, emphasize flexibility. These programs might allow students to access their courses on their own schedule, completing course requirements and assignments at their convenience (per course and assignment guidelines).
Additionally, some online programs may combine the above, listing synchronous and asynchronous course options together, and allowing you to choose the type of course that works for you at that time.
Hybrid ESL and TESOL Graduate Programs
Increasingly, some programs may aim to combine the benefits of both online and on campus programs by offering hybrid programs. Hybrid or low residency programs typically offer both on-campus and online course options. In some cases, these might be typical semester-long courses offered side by side. In a low residency program, the majority of coursework might be completed online, with required on-campus residencies several times a year.
Find Great ESL and TESOL Graduate Programs Today!
If you’re ready to find great TESOL graduate programs, GradSchools.com is here to help. If you need to narrow down your options, you can add filters by selecting your preferred program level or format, or by selecting your preferred location. Once you’re happy with your selections, you can begin reading up on programs, and reach out to your favorite prospects for more information or to get the process started. Don’t wait any longer. Take the first step toward completing an ELL or TESOL graduate program today!