FAQ | TESOL Certificate Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Certification | Arts and Humanities

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TESOL Certificate Program

Teachers College, Columbia University

Choosing the Teachers College TESOL Certificate Program

The TESOL Certificate Program at Teachers College, Columbia University is one of the most in-depth certificate programs offered today. With a close affiliation with the TESOL & Applied Linguistics Program at Teachers College, Columbia University and real teaching practice opportunities in a real language program, we offer a strong theoretical foundation and a hands-on practical teaching component. Further, to help you bridge the gap between theory and practice, you will be guided by senior mentor teachers. The instructors all have a wealth of experience teaching English to speakers of other languages and training teachers here in the US and internationally. In addition, they all hold an MA in TESOL and are either doctoral students or professors in the TESOL & Applied Linguistics Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. The senior mentor teachers all have MAs and have extensive experience teaching a variety of non-native speakers in different contexts.

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an umbrella term used to describe the art of teaching English to anyone who is not a native speaker of English. TESOL may take place in an English-speaking country, or in a country where English is not an official language and considered a foreign language, in which case it may be called TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).

ESL (English as a Second Language) is used to refer to English instruction to non-native speakers in a country where English is the dominant language. These learners may be acquiring English as a third, fourth, or fifth language. EFL (English as a Foreign Language) is taught in a country where English is not an official language and considered a foreign language. ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) is another acronym commonly used to refer to the study of English by non-native speakers.

Yes, the TESOL Certificate Program at Teachers College, Columbia University aligns with, and exceeds, the standards recommended by TESOL International Association for short-term certificate programs. It also meets and exceeds the 120-hour instruction standard often required for teaching abroad. 

To receive a Certificate, students must have at least a B average in their coursework. Our alumni describe the program as exhilarating and intense. For the full time program students should plan to spend 30-40 hours on coursework per week and for the part-time program 15-20 hours per week. Please note that the vast majority of participants complete the program successfully and receive certificates. If you keep yourself organized, you will too.

Yes! During the program, you will work with your teaching mentor and your teaching team planning for and then teaching your own class in our Community Language Program. Participants repeatedly tell us that they find the student teaching component of our program very rewarding, saying they enjoy the relationships they build with their students. They also say they appreciate the opportunity to put everything they are learning about TESOL into practice in a sheltered, supportive environment where they themselves can learn and grow. For more information about the student-teaching experience, visit our Student Teaching page.

Applying to the program

No teaching experience is necessary to apply to the TESOL Certificate Program. Students will participate in supervised team student teaching as part of the program.

You must have a B.A., B.S., or an equivalent undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university to apply to the program. The only exception is graduating seniors, who receive provisional acceptance. In order to receive final acceptance, graduating seniors must submit a copy of their diploma before the program.

Yes. Upon written request, you may defer enrollment for one year. Please contact our office for more information about this process.

Tuition is $6,800, plus a $50 application fee. You should plan on spending approximately $250 on books and supplies. Housing costs vary, depending upon whether you live in TC housing or not. For the summer program, students may apply for Summer Conference Housing through the Office of Residential Services website. Summer Conference Housing is offered on a rolling basis. If you choose to apply for on-campus housing, remember to apply early, since these options fill up fast.

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer scholarships and it is not possible to pay for the program with federally-funded student loans at this time. However, if you are interested in applying for a personal continuing education loan, please contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information.

Finding a job

Our graduates go on to find work as varied as their backgrounds. Some travel and teach overseas, while others find work in non-profit English programs and for-profit language schools here in the United States. Most of our graduates work with adult learners, but some (particularly those who teach abroad) also teach children. Graduates with a background in another professional field often combine their newly acquired teaching skills with their prior professional experience. For instance, alumni with a business background might go on to teach English to executives. Graduates with Master's degrees in related areas (language, education, etc.) and prior teaching experience often find work in community colleges in the U.S. and in universities abroad.

The TESOL Certificate Program is a non-credit, non-degree program. It does not provide K-12 certification or an ESL endorsement on a public school teaching license. It is primarily for those who wish to teach adults in continuing education programs in the U.S. and abroad. For information on the TC TESOL MA program offering K-12 TESOL certification, please contact the TESOL Graduate Advisor at tesolal@tc.edu. For information on how to obtain an ESL endorsement on an existing teaching license, please contact your local or state department of education.

All participants who have graduated from our program and looked for work have found work. During the program itself, we offer a workshop on how to find a job. We also place you on a special Teachers College TESOL & Applied Linguistics jobs list-serve where you receive regular news of openings in the U.S. and abroad. As a TC TESOL Certificate Program student, you are also eligible to use the Teachers College Career Services. Your fellow students are often one of the best sources for job referrals. These students become an important component of your professional network throughout your teaching career.

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