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Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), K-12


As classrooms continue to diversify, teacher candidates must be prepared to meet the needs of all their students. To help meet this need, SMSU offers the TESL program. Although the name varies across the nation and internationally, the focus of the program is the same, ultimately to help prepare teachers to support English learners learn English. SMSU has adopted the TESL abbreviation and course prefix to match the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board language, ESL, and to distinguish between programs for ELs and programs for teachers of ELs. This K-12 Teaching ESL degree and licensure program at the undergraduate level provides the foundations in teaching with the Standards of Effective Practice and the core content courses and methods for teaching K-12 English as a Second Language. Graduates will be able to obtain a Tier 3 licensure in K-12 Teaching English as a Second Language. The TESL program is offered in a hybrid format with a combination of online collaboration and on-campus community building.

Since licensure to teach is a professional program, formal application for admission to the Teacher Education Program is required during the sophomore year. Application information is available at the School of Education website. There is a minimum GPA requirement of 2.8 from all colleges and universities attended, plus other requirements, such as taking the Minnesota NES Essential Academic Skills tests in Reading, Writing, and Math. Persons with previous degrees and/or current licensure interested in adding a licensure field or endorsement may apply to SMSU and have their transcripts sent (if not from a Minnesota State System College or University) to have a transcript review of what courses they would still need. Teacher candidates may choose to take TESL courses before formally being accepted into the Teacher Education Program. Teacher candidates wishing to pursue licensure must have two years of studying foreign language at the high school level or one year of foreign language at the collegiate level to meet the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board requirements. TESL 431 Foundations of TESL & Lab is the prerequisite course for the other TESL courses.


Graduates with the K-12 TESL licensure may pursue teaching in an ESL classroom, working with English learners. Teachers of ESL collaborate with content area teachers to deliver content to English learners with specific, research-based teaching strategies to enhance the understanding and performance of ELs. Graduates with an emphasis or minor in the field of TESL may apply their knowledge of ELs and appropriate teaching strategies in the general classroom and aim to build rapport with the EL community, building partnerships to enrich the learning experience.

Required Courses

The profession originally known as ESL (English as a Second Language) has gone through many changes in name. TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language) became TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) because English might not literally be the student's second language. Though the names differ from one certification program to the next, TESL techniques are well established and all amin to support teachers and their K-12 English Learners. -- Retrieved from:

As the MN Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board continues to use "ESL" language, SMSU offers licensure and studies in the area of K-12 Teachers of English as a Second Language (TESL).

Last Modified: 4/8/21 3:11 PM | Website Feedback