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Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


The TESOL Certificate is offered by the Linguistics Department in collaboration with the ESL Program and the Department of Literature, Languages, & Cultures. The Certificate prepares students to be successful teachers of English to speakers of other languages by providing the necessary foundations in linguistics, in theories of language learning and teaching (applied linguistics), and in the practice of teaching. It does not provide certification for teaching in the K-12 system; instead it prepares students for the many other employment opportunities in TESOL in the U.S. and abroad.

Our Certificate is 15 credits (5 courses – for an Overview of the Certificate see below). All of the Certificate courses are offered online and can be completed by anyone, anywhere through University Without Walls (UWW) as well as by current UMass students. The Certificate is designed to be completed in one year. However, students can take longer or simply take individual courses without committing to the entire Certificate in order to meet their needs for continuing education (See Suggested Sequencing below).


To register for the courses, complete the following steps:

STEP 1: Fill out the following link letting us know that you are enrolling in a course:

You only need to do this once. This information allows us to keep you updated on our course offerings, workshops, etc., and to track your progress at fulfilling the Certificate requirements (only fill out this link if you are enrolling in one of our courses or plan to complete the entire the Certificate program).

If you are not ready to enroll in a course and have general questions about the Certificate or our courses, please fill out the link above and choose that you need more information.  

STEP 2: Register for Courses (follow directions based on which student group you belong to):

(New students, not currently enrolled in UMass)

Our online TESOL courses are offered through University Without Walls (UWW) and are listed under two departments, Linguistics (LINGUIST) and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (LLC). Visit https://www.umass.edu/online/enroll and read instructions carefully. If you are a UWW student, you should enroll in the UWW sections of the courses.

If you have never taken courses at UMass Amherst, you should follow the registration path for “New Students.” It takes about 2-3 days to receive your student ID and access our UMass Amherst’s course management system (SPIRE) after you fill out their forms. You also need to request a UWW enrollment appointment, which is explained on the same webpage.

If you need assistance enrolling in the program through UWW, please contact Lori Knapp (lknapp@uww.umass.edu).


To enroll in any of our online TESOL courses search or the course(s) in SPIRE. They are listed under two departments, Linguistics (LINGUIST) and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (LLC). Sign up for the university section of the course as you would for any other UMass course. Summer courses are only offered as UWW sections, so you would need to enroll in the UWW section and pay the UWW fees if you take a summer course. 


Certificate Award/Completion

To receive the Certificate in TESOL, students must have earned 15 or more credits from the list of courses indicated in the certificate overview and must pass these courses with a grade of C or higher.

Once you have completed all five courses, write to the Certificate Coordinator (Pamela Shea, pshea@umass.edu) to receive the completion form. Follow the direction on the completion form. In addition to the Certificate appearing on your transcript, a paper certificate will also be issued to those who complete the program. 

UWW International Students
International students taking our online courses from their countries of residence (whose official language is not English) need to provide evidence of English proficiency and at least high school education. We accept a wide variety of proficiency tests and can even arrange for remote testing. Please contact the program coordinator (Pamela Shea, pshea@umass.edu) for additional information.

Since this is an undergraduate certificate, the U.S. educational prerequisite is a high school diploma (or GED). If you are an international student, please make sure you forward a copy of your high school diploma (or higher degree) to certificate coordinator, Pamela Shea (pshea@umass.edu).

Tuition and Payment (for UWW students)
Each credit at UMass Amherst is $525 + fees. If you pursue the certificate, you'll take approximately 5 different classes of 3 credits each to complete it = an estimated total of $ 7,875 (information as of spring 2023). All questions regarding payment should be directed to UMass Amherst’s Office of the Bursar

Financial Aid and Payment Plans
Please check with the Office of the Bursar for payment options and plans. There is no financial aid available for short-term Certificates at the university. However, UMass Amherst offers a payment plan (monthly installments) for courses and short-term programs: https://www.umass.edu/bursar/upay-payment-plan.
UWW offers limited numbers of scholarships to help fund students’ education. For more information: https://www.umass.edu/uww/resources/scholarships 

Credit Transfers
Our Certificate courses are all credit-bearing courses for both degree and non-degree seeking students. If you are interested in transferring credits from UMass Amherst to another institution, contact the institution to where you wish to transfer credits to make sure the courses are aligned with the program of study you are pursuing there. The decision to accept the credits lies with the receiving institution and/or program.

Transfer Credits to our Certificate
With permission from the Certificate Coordinator, our Certificate in TESOL accepts up to 3 transfer credits for courses with comparable content & scope. If you would like to pursue this option, please visit or email program the coordinator first and, after acceptance, follow instructions on https://www.umass.edu/registrar/students/transfer-information/transferring-credit 


Total Number of Credits: 15

Core Courses (REQUIRED): 12 credits (each course is 3 credits)
LINGUIST 201    How Language Works: Introduction to Linguistic Theory    
LINGUIST 330    The Structure of English Language Teaching    
LLC 320    Foundations of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages    
LLC 321    The Practice of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages  (includes a teaching practicum, which can be completed online)    

Other courses (ELECTIVES) - 3 credits: students select a course according to their needs and interests availability).
LLC 322    Teaching ESL Writing    
LLC 323    Technology for TESOL  
Any linguistics course 300-level or above (LINGUIST 370 - The Sound of Englishes is a good option) 
Any transfer credits (3) approved by certificate coordinator (a required course could also be transferred if a similar course is offered at another institution)

Course Descriptions 

LINGUIST 201 – Introduction to Linguistic Theory

This course teaches analytic reasoning through an examination of linguistic data. We will first see how the grammars of languages can be treated as formal systems. Then we will learn some of the principles responsible for the behavior of these systems and learn how to apply them to new linguistic data. By the end of the course, you will be able to do basic linguistic analysis.

LINGUIST 330 – The Structure of English for Language Teaching 

This course presents an overview of the linguistic structure of English for the purposes of teaching English as an additional language (EAL). Participants will learn the basic elements that every language teacher should know about English grammar and pronunciation. The emphasis throughout the course will be on implications and techniques for teaching English grammar to EAL learners.

LLC 320 – Foundations of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages 

The course is designed to present an overview of the field of how additional languages, with an emphasis on English, are learned after a first language has already been acquired. In this course, core concepts of language learning will be explored along with a historical perspective of teaching approaches based on those core concepts. The development of learner language will also be examined from the perspective of the four modalities: reading, writing, listening, speaking, as will the influences of culture and individual differences on language learning.

LLC 321– The Practice of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

This course provides an introduction to the practice of teaching English as an additional language. The focus throughout the course will be on how aspects of language teaching can be realized in practice, in a range of contexts or educational settings, and for learners of various proficiency levels and backgrounds. Students will gain experience creating lesson plans, classroom materials, and assessments. A significant component of the course consists of practicum-related tasks, such as classroom observations, teaching evaluations, tutoring and teaching demonstrations/practice.

LLC 322 – Teaching ESL Writing 

This course explores the theory and practice of teaching writing to adult learners of English as a second language (ESL). The course will focus on teaching English for academic writing, but will also address the teaching of ESL writing to various levels of proficiency and native language backgrounds. Within this exploration, an emphasis will be placed on the classroom implications and practices based on research, concepts and theories concerning the teaching and learning of ESL writing. Historical and social issues will also be discussed.

LLC 323 – Technology for TESOL 

This course familiarizes students with the use of instructional technology in TESOL to improve language learning in a variety of educational contexts. The course will explore the theory, practice and pedagogical implications for using the latest internet and computer technologies to enhance student learning. The course is composed of lectures, discussion of selected readings, group work, and hands-on practice.  

Suggested Certificate Course Sequencing

Below is a suggested course sequencing to help students plan their academic coursework. Our certificate is very flexible in that students can start it in any sequence they desire. However, the sequence below reflects the semester in which each course is offered. 

Semester 1  
LINGUIST 201 (offered every semester)    
LLC 320 (Fall)    

Semester 2
LINGUIST 330 (Spring)    
LLC 321 (Spring)    

Semester 3      
LLC 322    (Summer)    
LLC 323    (Summer)