An aspiring ESL teacher works online to obtain their ESL certification online

How to Obtain Your ESL Certification Online

Teaching is undeniably one of the most important and impactful professions a person can undertake, and understanding how to effectively use language is undeniably one of the most important skills a person can possess.

Subsequently, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) or English as a second language (ESL) can be a rewarding way to make a world of difference to students. In a primarily English-speaking country, any non-native citizen who doesn’t have a decent grasp of the language is sure to experience countless struggles – at work, in school, and even in building new relationships.

So how can you become an ESL teacher? Public schools and many government-literacy programs require these teachers to have a postsecondary degree – usually a bachelor’s degree in education or English (though some will require a master’s degree) – and for them to have received ESL certification. But how do you become ESL certified? There are two ways: through tradition ESL courses or through online ESL courses.

Traditional professional-level certification courses will typically be daily classes (Monday through Friday) over the period of four to five weeks. They can often be taken through a university, though institutions do exist specifically for the purpose of ESL certification. Keep in mind that different courses will have slightly different course requirements as they vary by state.

Many of these classes will be comprised of 10 or more students and typically contain a practicum (student teaching) portion to conduct hands-on work with those who are learning ESL. Courses will commonly incorporate up to 100 hours of coursework and at least six hours of student teaching observed by an instructor or administrator. An application will need to be completed, college transcripts will need to be submitted, and drug tests and criminal background checks must be passed before a student may complete a state licensing exam.

ESL Certification Online

In English classes online and ESL online classes, there will also be slight variation in the requirements, but you won’t be as limited by location. This means that you can find and choose the online language courses that best suit your needs in terms of time and money.

Though these online classes won’t always incorporate the same level of hands-on experience with ESL students, that experience can be gained through the use of several online resources dedicated to helping users learn a language. Many sites are looking for dedicated contributors that can serve as tutors.

Neither in-person nor online courses will be free, but education rarely is. If you’re interested in becoming an ESL instructor, contact your state’s Department of Education to learn about what’s required.

Last Updated: July 07, 2017