TESL and Bilingual/Bicultural Online Certification
The growing number of English learners in our public schools nationwide makes ESL a useful addition to primary certification in elementary education or any secondary education major. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s mission is to provide a top quality program for students preparing to teach ESL in the public schools of Wisconsin.
The ESL program consists of 11-28 credits which can be applied toward progress on one of UWSP’s existing master’s of science in education degree programs. Completion of a bilingual/bicultural license requires the completion of an ESL license first.
1: I hear people talking about ESL, ELL, EFL, TESL, TEFL, and TESOL? Do these things have anything to do with one another?
What do these letters stand for? These acronyms can be confusing. Here are the translations:
ESL= English as a Second Language
ELL=English Language Learner
EFL= English as a Foreign Language
TESL=Teaching English as a Second Language
TEFL=Teaching English as a Foreign Language
TESOL= Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (The name of the international professional organization for teachers. While ESL/TESL often get used in the United States,
EFL/TEFL are more frequently used in overseas, e.g. She teaches ESL in Des Moines vs. She teaches EFL in Romania).
2: What is required to receive a teaching license for ESL in the state of Wisconsin?
The state of Wisconsin requires students to master content specific to the field of teaching ESL. These content requirements are covered through the required courses at UWSP. UWSP requires a minimum of 22 credit hours in ESL. Before students receive a student teaching assignment, they need to display mastery of the content areas by passing the Praxis II exam. For a complete list of required courses, see
Minor in Teaching of English as a Second Language (with teaching intent).
3: I only want to teach ESL. Can I get certified to teach ESL without getting certified in something else?
While this may be possible elsewhere, it is not the case at UW-Stevens Point. We treat ESL as an add-on endorsement, which means that students add the ESL endorsement to certification. They may have certification at either the elementary or the secondary level and certification at the secondary level may be in any number of areas. Spanish or English are the most popular choices at the secondary level. When students complete our program they leave with credentials that give them maximum flexibility and this is very appealing to school districts.
4: I’m interested in teaching in the US, but I’ll probably leave Wisconsin. Will my ESL endorsement in Wisconsin transfer to other states?
Many states enthusiastically accept Wisconsin's certification. Still, it’s best to check with the state or the local school system where you are considering employment. Frequently states require minimal additional coursework to accept a Wisconsin teaching license.
5: Are there opportunities to teach ESL in Wisconsin?
Currently the demand for ESL teachers in Wisconsin is greater than the supply and projections indicate that opportunities in ESL are likely to grow. Because our population is not growing rapidly, if we want to stay economically sound we are going to need to encourage newcomers to our state. These are likely to include many immigrants whose first language is not English.
6: I want to go overseas. I hear there are lots of ESL jobs. Should I still get an ESL endorsement?
While it is true that it is possible for a native-speaker of English to teach English in some countries with a minimum of preparation, better positions usually require a minor in TESL.
7: Do I need to know a foreign language?
Yes, you need to complete at least 2 courses (8 credits) of college level language classes. Alternatively, you can take the placement exam offered by the Department of Foreign Languages in order to test out of this requirement. We highly recommend studying, if not learning a foreign language because this experience will make you a better ESL teacher. Proficiency in Spanish is also a very valuable skill both in today's public schools and in many other areas.
8: How are the age levels of my ESL certification determined in Wisconsin?
Since you may only receive certification to teach ESL in conjunction with a teaching major, the age levels of your ESL certification will match the age levels of your initial teaching certification.
9: How do I know when classes will be held; how can I plan ahead?
TESL Curriculum page contains information on when classes are typically held.
10: Is there a student teaching requirement for ESL? If so, what is it like?
Yes, there is. Student-teaching is completed during the last semester of a student's course work. The course is Foreign Language Education 398. Students always combine this placement with their major student-teaching experience. The
Office of Field Experiences works with us to enable you to have such an experience. Students who are pursuing TESL without teaching intent or those who are adding an ESL certification to an existing license are required to complete FLED 397, a practicum of at least 1 credit (1 credit = 40 contact hours).
11: Where do I begin?
Apply Now page to learn more.
12: Can I get graduate credit or even a Master’s degree relevant to teaching ESL and fulfill the state requirements for an endorsement?
Yes, UWSP offers both programs and they can be done simultaneously. Because of the overlap in the programs, it is often possible to do a Master's degree and an ESL endorsement without taking more than three additional courses. If a student is not currently certified to teach in the state of Wisconsin, additional courses will be necessary.
13: How do I find out more about the graduate program at UWSP?
Visit the School of Education
14: I’m working full-time and can’t always come to UWSP when the classes I need meet. Any suggestions?
All the classes necessary for ESL add-on certification are available online. Please contact
Molly Wolensky for information about the Continuing Education Program and current course offerings.
Department of World Languages and Literatures