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Studying Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) at UW-Stevens Point

Are you a teacher interested in ESL add-on certification / Bilingual-Bicultural add-on certification? Read below, but click here to read what you will need from Continuing Education.

Our mission is to provide a top quality program for students preparing to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) in the public schools of Wisconsin. At UW-Stevens Point, TESL is only offered as a minor, which means that students need to pursue certification in another area as well (i.e., students have to have a major in another area). Even though this minor is housed in the Department of World Languages and Literatures, courses for this minor are offered in many departments across campus such as Anthropology, Communicative Disorders, Education, and English. The growing number of English learners in our public schools nationwide makes ESL a useful addition to primary certification in elementary education, secondary English, or secondary Spanish (see Minor Option 1). However, this program is also suitable for students who are not seeking teaching certification but wish to teach English abroad in programs such as the Peace Corps (see Minor Option 2).

Courses, in accord with state requirements and the professional standards of TESOL, are designed to give students a framework in linguistics applied to second language education with appropriate methods and practice teaching. For further information, contact Dr. Tobias Barske, Professor and ESL Coordinator.

For answers to some of the most common questions, go to Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Minor in Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL)

1. Minor in Teaching of English as a Second Language (with teaching intent)


This track of the minor is intended for students interested in teaching in public schools. Upon completion of the following requirements, students may apply for ESL teaching certification which mirrors the developmental ranges/ age level of the initial license/ license in the teaching major:

  • Fulfillment of all graduation requirements on the level of UW-Stevens Point, your respective college, the School of Education, and your chosen major
  • Demonstrated proficiency in English
  • Two semesters of college level foreign language or equivalent high school experience (8 credits)
    (you can test out by taking the placement exam offered by appointment)
  • English 342 – English Grammars (offered in Spring semesters)
    English 344 – History of the English Language (offered in Fall semesters)
    English 345 – English Language for Teachers (offered in Spring semesters)
  • English 240 – Introduction to Linguistics (recommended as a better preparation for Praxis II exam!) (offered in Fall semesters)
    Communication Science and Disorders 266 – Normal Language Development 
  • Anthropology 110 – Cultural Anthropology
    Anthropology 325 – Culture and Language
    History 288 – Racial and Ethnic Groups in the US (offered in Spring semesters)
    Political Science 315 – Minority Group Politics
  • Psychology 322 – Psychology and Culture
  • Sociology 270 – Race and Ethnicity
    Sociology 327 – Social Inequality (offered in Fall semesters)
  • English
    1. Early Childhood (ages 0-8)/ Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence (ages 6-13) (depending on license in teaching major)
      1. English 274 – Literature for Early Childhood (offered in Fall semesters)
        English 275 – Children's Literature
      2. b. Education 309 – Methods/Materials for Teaching Reading II
        Education 310 – Materials/Methods for Teaching Lang. Arts
    2. English majors/ Early Adolescence-Adolescence (10-21)
      1. English 375 – Literature for Adolescents (offered in Spring semesters)
      2. English 355 – Methods of Teaching Composition (Middle and Secondary)
        English 356 – Methods of Teaching Literature (Middle and Secondary)
      3. English 381 – Reading for the English Teacher (offered in Spring semesters)
    3. Non-English majors/ Early Adolescence-Adolescence (10-21)
      1. English 200 – Introduction to the Study of Literature
      2. English 394 – Methods of Teaching Composition and Literature for Non-English Majors (offered in Spring semesters)
      3. Education 386 – Literacy in the Secondary School
  • Foreign Language Education 344 – Teaching English as a Second Language
  • Foreign Language Education 398 – Student Teaching in Foreign Language
  • Foreign Language Education 498 – Intern Teaching
  • Students have to pass the Praxis II exam (test code: 20360) before they are allowed to student teach in the area of ESL. Click here to register for this test.

NOTE: TESL is one of the areas on campus that requires a student teaching assignment. If you are pursuing an ESL teaching license, please contact an advisor in the School of Education or the ESL Coordinator, Dr. Tobias Barske, to discuss the timeline of your program. Failure to do so may result in a delay of placement for the supervised practice teaching (FLED 398). Typically, students are placed in a school that has a free-standing ESL program where they complete either the first or the second half of their student teaching experience working with ESL supervising and cooperating teachers. Preparation for student teaching in ESL at UW-Stevens Point consists of a minimum of 30 hours during which students

  • observe classes
  • develop and submit lesson plans
  • develop a unit
  • reflect upon and journal teaching experience
  • participate in testing and assessment
  • participate in relevant outside activities, including parent conferences
  • work with and get feedback from a practicum teacher
  • videotape and critique their own teaching

2. Minor in Teaching English as a Second Language (for students who are not pursuing teacher certification)


The minor in TESL offers students a background in teaching English as a Second Language through an introduction to linguistics, an introduction to theories of second language acquisition, and knowledge of how to teach effectively at all age levels. See information below for specific requirements, and/ or contact Dr. Tobias Barske for more information.

  • Demonstrated proficiency in English
  • Two semesters of college level foreign language or equivalent high school experience (8 credits) (you can test out by taking the placement exam offered by appointment)
  • Click here for list of requirements.

Where recent graduates are working


Kimberly Beckman ('10): Peace Corps

Beaver Dam Unified School District
Heather Gedamke ('09): Jefferson Elementary Schools

Erin Carney ('10): Brent International School, Subic Bay Freeport

South Korea
Katie Adams ('08): Uijeongbu

Stevens Point Public Schools
Amy Lawton ('06): McKinley Center
Amanda Ruzicka ('06): Jefferson School for the Arts
Lee Vang (B.S. in '05, M.S. in '08): Madison ES

Unified School District of De Pere
Teresa Collier ('08): De Pere School District

Wausau School District
Melissa Bolanda ('10): Franklin Elementary School
Kelly Brandt ('09): Hewitt-Texas Elementary School
Jessica Buhr ('09): South Mountain Elementary School
Thomas Dziadosz ('09): Stettin Elementary School
Mackenzie Maas ('10): Rib Mountain Elementary School
Shannon Mergen ('07): Stettin Elementary School
Laurie Rappa ('06): G.D. Jones Elementary School
Melissa Swanson ('07): Maine Elementary School
Heather Trollop ('07): Franklin Elementary School
BreAnne Wais ('08): Hewitt-Texas Elementary School
Julie Zinda ('08): Riverview Elementary School

Portage Community School District
Nadine Baumhardt ('08): District

West Africa
Kyle von Rueden ('09)

Wisconsin Rapids School District
Gary Kostuchowski ('97), Wisconsin East Junior High School

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


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 World Languages and Literatures 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?


You may obtain a copy of our TESL brochure which indicates when classes are typically offered. The brochure is available both in the Department of World Languages and Literatures (488 CCC) and in the School of Education.


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: Are there opportunities for me to gain additional ESL experiences at UWSP, beyond simply taking courses?


Yes, UWSP has approximately 250 international students from 34 countries on campus and many of them still need assistance and/ or conversational practice in English. If you are interested in helping some of these students learn English, you should contact the International Students & Scholars Program on campus. There are also opportunities to observe or assist teachers or tutor children as part of summer programs at UWSP. You can also get involved with the International Club to make our international students feel at home at UWSP. Off campus you can reach out to non-native speakers in the community by volunteering at the Portage County Literacy Council, a wonderful non-profit organization instrumental to the integration of new arrivals to the area of Stevens Point. Students are encouraged to take advantage of one or more of these opportunities. Finally, the International Program.

12: Where do I begin?


First, students should officially declare the TESL minor by visiting the main office in the Department of World Languages and Literatures. Students should also inform the School of Education if they want to add teaching intent for ESL. Once teaching intent is declared, you should meet with a SOE advisor to discuss a course of studies. In terms of courses, if a student has not had any coursework related to ESL, English 240 - Introduction to Linguistics is the best place to begin. Completing this course prepares you for the more advanced courses that follow and provides a great basis for the Praxis II test.

The next five questions apply to those who already have a Bachelor's degree:

13: I have a Bachelor's degree and I am certified to teach in an area other than ESL. How long will it take to add an ESL certification?


Since everyone's transcript is different, it is impossible to answer this question. For a detailed evaluation of your transcript(s), send the following in one packet: a request for a transcript evaluation for ESL, unofficial/ official copies of transcripts from every college or technical school attended, an unofficial copy of your current teaching license to:


Tobias Barske
489c CCC, UWSP
1801 Fourth Avenue
Stevens Point, WI 54481

14: 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.

15: How do I find out more about the graduate program at UWSP?


Visit the School of Education website. If you have additional questions or if you would like to apply to this program, please contact Kristy Roth.

16: 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. 

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