ESL/TESOL Curriculum

If you’re wondering “What do you need to pursue a career as an ESL teacher?” we can help answer that question. When you’re considering enrolling in and ESL/TESOL program it’s a good idea to take a look at general requirements and the content of the curriculum that you will likely study. To help give you a sense of what to expect if you decide to move forward with pursuing your ESL education, we’ll cover some general program descriptions and course topics below.

ESL/TESOL Graduate Program Curriculum Requirements

So, what might you expect when entering a graduate TESOL program? ESL master’s programs typically require you to complete at least one of more of the following: a thesis, an internship or practicum, or a capstone project/portfolio.

Since the goal of graduate ESL/TESOL programs is to prepare you to teach English as a second language, ideally you will have mastered the following types of competencies upon graduation:

  1. Understanding of the English language as a system and the ability to apply this knowledge to instruction
  2. Understanding of the processes of first and second language development and the ability to apply it to effective curriculum design
  3. Ability to find, analyze and synthesize relevant research and incorporate it into your instruction
  4. Ability to apply research-based practices and strategies to plan and manage stands-based ESL and content lessons
  5. Ability to conduct needs assessment in a variety of teaching settings and to adapt instruction to students’ age, linguistic background, native language and literacy development
  6. Ability to identify and select appropriate teaching resources including computer technology
  7. Understanding of linguistic  and cultural diversity to support effective student learning

ESL Masters Degree Program CurriculumESL/TESOL Graduate Program Courswork

The exact courses that you will take will vary depending on the program and on the school that you enroll in.  You will also likely have the option to choose certain electives based on your personal interests and career goals. However—in general—most schools may require you to complete courses that are similar in nature to those outlined below:

ESL Foundations:

Gives students a general overview of what teaching ESL involves.

Learning Theory:

Focuses on different learning theories and the pros and cons of different teaching methods.

Second Language Acquisition:

Focuses on how students learn language and strategies to assist the process.

English Grammar:

Helps prospective teachers better answer grammar-related questions that arise in class.


Explains how to ensure tests are valid, reliable and effective means of assessment.

Language and Culture:

Focuses on how to address a class in a culturally sensitive way that takes into account different political or educational philosophies.

Curriculum and Materials Design:

Teaches grad students how to develop their own course materials, benchmarks and assessment tools.

Research Methods:

Explains qualitative or quantitative research methods as they related to the field of TESOL.

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