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Teaching English as a Second Language

Breiseth • 800-WILKES U, x4671 (T) • 570-408-4905 (F) • Email

Teaching English as a Second Language

The 30-credit Master of Science degree in Teaching English as a Second Language will qualify individuals to instruct populations whose first language is not English. Graduates will be prepared to teach in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, private language schools and business-sponsored English programs, both in the United States and internationally. Beginning in Fall 2012, those seeking ESL certification in the State of Pennsylvania will need to take 15 credits and complete 60 hours of field work.

Students in this program will learn:

  • various approaches to second language teaching and how to apply it to the learners individual needs;
  • linguistic terminology (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse) and its application;
  • the role of intercultural communication and pragmatic theory in the second language classroom;
  • to evaluate the latest theoretical constructs and research findings in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing;
  • to examine and apply theories of second language acquisition to lesson planning, classroom instruction, curricular development, program development and assessment;
  • second language syllabus design, needs analysis, curriculum design, and assessment techniques;
  • to incorporate technology and computer assisted language learning to lesson planning;
  • to formulate, design, teach and assess lesson plans on reading, writing, listening, speaking, and other essential language skills.


Students will select one of two concentrations:

  • Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): This track trains instructors from anywhere in the world to work domestically or internationally and with international learners of all ages. Students in this major need not possess a background in education or a teaching certificate, but must have a bachelor's degree.
  • English as a Second Language (ESL). This track trains certified teachers for U.S. public schools focusing on pre-K through grade 12 learners.

Both concentrations contain similar coursework.

Certificate Only option

Pennsylvania teachers with an instructional certificate may obtain the ESL specialist designation by completing the first five courses of the master’s program, and 60 hours of field experience. Field experiences are structured by the course instructor and allow full time working teachers to easily meet the necessary requirments. All field experiences take place live. ESL is a program specialist designation and not a stand-alone instructional certificate in Pennsylvania, therefore you must have a Bachelor’s degree in Education and be a fully certified teacher in the State of PA to obtain this certification. Upon successful completion of those first five courses, whether or not you continue to pursue the master’s degree, you may request the specialist designation from the PDE by applying through the TIMS system.

Students, including those from other countries who want to return to their home countries to teach English, will receive a letter of endorsement after successful completion of the first four courses.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must select a major at the time of admission. Requirements are as follows:

  • TESOL: Requires a bachelor’s degree; education degree not needed
  • ESL: Requires a bachelor’s degree, preferably in education, and a current Pennsylvania teacher’s Instructional I or II certificate

All degree-seeking students are required to submit:

Applicants must follow the admissions process as outlined under same link at left. F1 visa holders are not eligible for this program.

Teachers interested in only obtaining the ESL endorsement (completion of the five identified courses) may apply as “non-degree only.” These applicants must supply only a copy of the undergraduate transcript and teaching certificate at the time of application.

Students must apply in order to register for their first course. Online application is preferred unless you are a returning Wilkes graduate student. Returning students please download and complete a paper application.

Schedule for Online Courses

See the latest semester schedule for the hybrid format under “Related Links” at the top right of this page for details. Registration procedures are outlined under the "Registration" link at left.

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