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Basic TESL/TEFL Certificate

The Basic Certificate in Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (TESL/TEFL) is directed at individuals in the following groups with an interest in ESL teaching:

  • Undergraduate students from any major
  • Community members
  • In-service ESL/EFL teachers wishing to update their teaching methodologies
  • Subject-matter teachers of students who speak languages other than English
  • ESL/EFL program administrators interested in curriculum design and teaching methodology

Individuals who hold the Certificate are prepared to teach ESL students in a variety of situations:

  • in community college ESL/EFL programs
  • in adult schools
  • in public school classrooms
  • in private ESL/EFL schools
  • in university ESL/EFL institutes
  • in business
  • in a wide range of overseas locations
  • in community college ESL/EFL programs (in conjunction with a relevant master’s degree)

The Certificate is not a public school teaching credential. (However, there is some overlap between the Basic Certificate and the CLAD (Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development) Certificate, which is applicable to public school teaching.

Since more than 60% of children entering the San Diego Unified School System speak a language other than English as their first language, the knowledge obtained in the certificate classes is essential for public school teachers to understand the issues involved in acquiring English and how these interact with content learning.

The following are learning outcomes for the Basic Certificate:

  1. Analyze patterns of language on multiple linguistic levels, from the sound to discourse structure. 
  2. Discuss the psychological and mental processes related to language acquisition, second language development, and development of language in bilinguals. 
  3. Demonstrate familiarity with key approaches to ESL and EFL teaching (such as communicative language teaching) and techniques for teaching language skills (e.g., the use of videos to teach listening comprehension). 
  4. Design second language teaching materials in light of current approaches to language teaching.

The Basic Certificate requires 15 units--five 3-unit courses--plus a minimum of 15 hours of tutoring. 

  • Introductory linguistics: Ling 420 or Ling 501.
  • Language acquisition and processing: Ling 452, Ling 454 or Ling 552
  • ESL teaching: Ling 550
  • Practical Issues/Computer Assisted Language Learning: Ling 555 or Ling 556
  • Elective: Ling 430 or Ling 530 or Ling 551
    (Choose your elective based on your assessment of your interests, strengths, or weaknesses.) 

Students must obtain a grade of C (2.0) or better in each of the certificate courses.

Tutoring requirement

The certificate requires that each student complete 15 hours of tutoring related to the certificate. Additional information about tutoring can be obtained from the certificate advisor and will also be provided when students are taking Linguistics 550. Ideally, students should have completed some of their coursework for the certificate prior to completing the tutoring requirement. 

Students need to submit the Completion of ESL tutoring form to the department to demonstrate completion of the ESL tutoring requirement. 

Transfer credit is sometimes possible for one equivalent course (or, rarely, two equivalent courses) taken elsewhere. All applications for transfer credit are evaluated individually by the Certificate Program. No academic credit for course work is granted for work experience. However, ESL teaching experience may apply to the 15 hour tutoring requirement.

(1) Fill out the Certificate Enrollment Form and and send to [email protected]

(2) Register and pay for the certificate. You can register, and pay for, courses for the certificate in any of three ways:

  1. as an undergraduate candidate for a bachelor's degree, taking the courses as electives (Note: Courses in the certificate may count toward the major in linguistics or the major in statistics but may not count toward the minor in linguistics or the minor in text analytics).  Information regarding fees can be found at https://bfa.sdsu.edu/financial/student/tuition.

  2. as a graduate candidate for a master's degree, taking the courses as electives.  Additional information is available at https://admissions.sdsu.edu/graduate.

  3. through the SDSU Global Campus ("Open University").  Additional information is available at https://ces.sdsu.edu/open-university.

For alternatives 1-2, you must have been admitted to San Diego State University through the regular application process. For alternative 3, no application or acceptance procedure is necessary; the SDSU Global Campus is the division of the university open to the general public. (Note: the course work and all Certificate requirements are the same regardless of the way you register and pay for them, and there is no difference between Certificates earned by individuals registering through Global Campus and those earned by individuals registering as admitted students.) 

After completion of the coursework and tutoring requirement for the certificate, students should contact Darlene Bych ([email protected])  and provide an unofficial transcript showing that relevant coursework has been completed. 

Does it matter in what order I take the Certificate courses?
Yes. Ling 420 or 501 must be taken first, since you need one of these courses as the prerequisite for other Certificate courses. (You may take Ling 430 and Ling 551 at the same time as Ling 420 or 501 if you have completed Ling 101 as part of the Linguistics major requirement or as a General Education course.) It is recommended, but not essential, that you take Ling 550 after your language acquisition and processing course (Ling 452, 454 or 552), since Ling 550 brings material from these courses to bear on the issues involved in teaching English to speakers of other languages.

What is the difference in Linguistics 420 and 501?
Linguistics 501 is ideally suited to students who are obtaining a B.A. or M.A. in linguistics while Linguistics 420 is appropriate for all other students. Linguistics 501 focuses more heavily on the theoretical aspects of Linguistics while Linguistics 420 contains more material which may be designed for a teaching population.

Is there a time limit for completion of Certificate coursework?

How long does the Certificate program take?
It should always be possible to complete the program in two regular semesters.

Contact Us

Ian Ruston, Program Advisor
Email: [email protected] | Office: SHW 226

Darlene Bych, Certificate Program Coordinator
Email: [email protected] | Phone: (619) 594-1915 | Office: SHW 215


Important Links

SDSU Catalog | Class Schedule