We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I get ESL Certification?

By S.R. Morris-Gray
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

English as a second language (ESL) certification is determined by the teaching location and the grade level of the students involved in the instruction. General ESL certification requires training in courses designed specifically for teaching English to non-native speakers. A preparation program, training practicum, and a prescribed list of education courses are mandated as part of the ESL certification for an officially recognized ESL teaching credential. Teaching certificates for student levels kindergarten through grade 12 are issued in the United States (US) by individual state departments of education. Each state department determines the specific requirements for credentialing.

An additional requirement for most teaching credential holders includes a co-certification to teach either English or a foreign language. ESL teaching degrees are earned at colleges, universities, and online schools accredited by language and teaching professional organizations. Program accreditation involves an examination by other ESL teachers and school administrators to evaluate the quality of the program before approval is given to issue credentials or certificates.

Online schools offer second-language courses and training but care must be taken to match the degree requirements with the prospective employment requirements. Certification is offered by training organizations such as Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Teaching of English as an Acquired or Additional Language (TEAL), International Accreditation of TESOL Qualifying Organisations (IATQuO), and Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Each group has unique standards and training requirements.

Meeting the online standards does not automatically mean the ESL certification meets state department of education standards in the US. California and Texas are pioneers in mandating ESL instruction in public schools. ESL certification in these two states is among the most stringent in coursework, testing, and field work requirements.

ESL courses for certification include linguistic fundamentals, teaching methods and materials, cross-cultural communication, and second-language acquisition. Coursework in teaching pronunciation, grammar fundamentals, and a practicum that requires the teaching candidate to go into the field to practice the ESL teaching principles is also mandated. ESL courses and ESL teaching credentials are available from accredited colleges and universities at traditional brick-and-mortar schools, as well as Internet education programs.

Most states require passing a standardized exam demonstrating competence in ESL theory, teaching methods related to English teacher certification, and a proficiency in second language curriculum development. State education departments frequently use the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) — a commercially prepared exam offered by the New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service — to evaluate competency. Computer-based exams in reading, speaking, listening, and writing are also given by international organizations and universities, including programs at schools in the University of California higher-education system. A minimum score is required to pass any of the standardized ESL exams, including the TOEFL. Some programs offer course credit for passing these exams, while other education programs require passage but do not release the teaching candidate from any mandated coursework.

In countries outside the US, an international English teacher certification and English as a second language certification are earned by taking ESL courses in general language acquisition. These English and ESL courses leading to an ESL certification are offered at commercial schools and through online study. Instructors holding either of these certifications from an international school may apply for K-12 or community college teaching certification in the United States using the certificate.

Approval of the certification is the responsibility of the state where the teaching application is filed. The department of education determines whether the ESL courses, training, exam, and prep match the state guidelines. A state may issue conditional approval and require additional coursework or a practicum before full certification is granted. Partial certification in the US occurs frequently in geographic regions with emergency requirements for certified ESL teachers.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.