The streamlined PSU TESL certificate program is an effective way to get your teaching credentials with just 28-credits (7 classes). The program focuses on the essentials of teaching ESL/EFL for beginning and experienced teachers alike. The program is designed to give you strong fundamentals in the workings of the English language together with practical skills and experience for teaching in a variety of settings. Coursework falls into two main areas:

Language Structure and Use coursework provides a deep understanding of language as a foundation for teaching. Our focus on cultural connections provides the skills and sensitivities to teach and work effectively with people from other cultures.

Language Teaching and Learning focuses on pedagogy and teaching methodology. Coursework provides grounding in second language learning theory and practice. The supervised practicum brings it all together with real-world teaching opportunities in Portland-area ESOL programs. 

TESL Certificate courses include:

  •  7 courses
  •  Language requirement

Advising and grading requirements: Follow the instructions below for enrolling in the TESL Certificate program. By the end of their first term of study, students must consult with the Applied Linguistics faculty advisor about their plans for completing the Certificate. All courses used to satisfy satisfy the Certificate requirements must be graded C or above. Courses taken for a "pass" grade during the Covid pandemic are also acceptable for fulfilling requirements. At least twelve of the 28 credits must be completed at PSU. 


Required courses

Course Description

1) LING 390 Introduction to Linguistics (4 credits). Start here. LING 390 is a prerequisite for many other courses. A general introduction to the study of linguistics and the tools for conducting linguistic analysis. This course includes a basic survey of phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, and a brief overview of other topics such as language in social contexts. This course is a prerequisite for many 400 level-courses in the department.
2) LING 392 Structure of the English Language (4 credits) A study of basic English grammar with an emphasis on describing grammatical forms and their functions in communication. 
3) LING 438 Second Language Acquisition (4 credits) An introduction to main aspects of second language acquisition from sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic perspectives. Content includes theories of second language acquisition from sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic perspectives. Content includes theories of second language acquisition, cognitive processes, the effects of linguistic environment, individual variables affecting SLA, and the relationship between first and second language. The course provides practice with observing and analyzing learner language. Recommended: LING 390, 392
4) LING 471 Understanding the International Experience (4 credits)  Examination of communication-based dimensions of an international or intercultural experience, including teaching English to speakers of other Languages. Development of strategies and activities required to meet the challenges of teaching, working, or doing research in an international/intercultural setting. All linguistics and TESL certificate students must register for LING 471/571; however, this course is also offered as INTL 471. Course may be taken only once for credit. 
5) LING 477 TESOL Methods (4 credits) The first in a two-course sequence on classroom teaching. Theoretical and practical perspectives on classroom teaching and learning. Topics include lesson planning, learning through reflection, scaffolding, and teaching specific language skills. Some out-of-class time is required for English language classroom observations and projects. 
6) LING 478 TESOL Methods II (4 credits)  The second in a two-course sequence on classroom teaching. Topics include advanced lesson planning, materials development, and teaching specific language skills not covered in Methods I. Some out-of-class time is required for English language classroom observations and group projects. Prerequisite: LING 477/577. 
7) LING 409 Language Teaching Practicum (4 credits) 

Design and implement lessons at an assigned location that address the needs of language learners. Examine strategies and create materials related to teaching this specific population at weekly meetings with an experienced educator and your peers. Be observed teaching your class and receive feedback from the instructor. 

TESL Certificate Language Requirement
for Native Speakers of English

Native speakers of English must have at least one year of coursework in a second language. If you have not fulfilled this requirement at the time of admission, it can be fulfilled by taking language courses concurrently with the certificate courses. 

TESL Certificate Language Requirement
for Non-Native Speakers of English

Students who are non-native speakers of English can satisfy the TESL Certificate's second language requirement by having a TOEFL PBT score of 550, IELTS 6.5, or TOEFL iBT score of 80. 


Already a PSU student? 

If you're already a PSU student, you do not need to apply or be accepted into the Certificate program. Simply:

1) After logging into Banweb, under the student tab, select "change academic program". 

2) Select "Applied Linguistics" as the major 

3) Select "Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Certificate" as the secondary major.

4) Make an appointment with the Applied Linguistics faculty advisor by emailing:

Costs and finance options

Detailed cost information can be found here. Financing may be available through grants, scholarships, loans (federal and private) and institutional financing plans. Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to learn more.


If you are not yet a PSU student: 

1) Apply to PSU as an undergraduate or as a post-baccalaureate using the online admissions application:

2) Select the TESL Certificate in Banweb:

3) Make an appointment with the Applied Linguistics Faculty Advisor by emailing:

When it comes to choosing between doing an online program versus choosing a place like Portland State, it's a totally different experience. I don't think you're going to get the same sort of quality of education if you try to complete the TESL certificate online versus coming to our program. There's so much in-depth information that you get, and there's so much practical experience that you get - you're not going to get that just learning about it online.

-- Sasha Reinwald-Albrecht, TESOL Methods Courses Teaching Assistant 2018-19