English is now the international language of the world, indispensable for those working in business and the professions, science and technology, and virtually all fields of education. The demand for learning English continues to be high in almost every region of the world; in addition, there continues to be a large number of immigrants in the United States who require instruction in English as a second language. The need for qualified teachers of English to speakers of other languages, both for adults and for school-age children, remains urgent. Since 1968, the Department of English, through its Programs in English Linguistics, has offered a certificate in TESOL designed to provide academic and pedagogical preparation for prospective ESL/EFL teachers.

A Certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is offered as a graduate version and undergraduate version (including University Special students who have completed an undergraduate degree) for those who wish to teach English as a foreign or second language, normally in positions abroad.

Admission Requirements

Graduate students must utilize the Graduate Student Portal in MyUW to add, change, or discontinue any doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate. To apply to this certificate, log in to MyUW, click on Graduate Student Portal, and then click on Add/Change Programs. Select the information for the graduate/professional certificate for which you are applying.

  • Student Status. Enrollment in any one of the required certificate courses along with enrollment in a graduate degree program at UW–Madison.
  • Foreign Language. Satisfactorily complete at least four college-level terms (or the equivalent, such as four years in high school) of a modern foreign language, including its spoken form. For nonnative English speakers, English is considered the foreign language.  
  • Demonstrate English proficiency of spoken and written English commensurate with the role of language model. Nonnative English speakers must have a score of at least: 
    • 50 on the SPEAK test or
    • 26 on the iBt speaking section, with an overall score of 100 on the iBt or
    • 600 on the paper version of TOEFL or
    • 7 on IELTS.

Certificate Requirements

  • 9 credits of required graduate-level courses listed below along with all prerequisites and language requirements.
  • A grade point average of 3.0 in all required courses except ENGL 613ENGL 618, which are graded as Credit/No Credit.
  • Teaching practice. This requirement is normally fulfilled by completion of ENGL 515.
  • All requirements for the certificate in TESOL must be satisfied within three successive academic years.
  • Nonnative English speakers must take the SPEAK test and receive a score of 50 or higher (or take a comparable test as mentioned in "admissions requirements" above.  

Prerequisite Courses (can be taken at any time)

Foundational Courses
ENGL 314 Structure of English3
ENGL 315 English Phonology3
ENGL 318 Second Language Acquisition3
Courses on Social Perspectives on English
Select one of the following:3
English Language Variation in the U.S.
Global Spread of English
English in Society
Total Credits12

Required TESOL Graduate Certificate Courses

Must be taken for graduate credit
TESOL Foundation Course
ENGL 415 Introduction to TESOL Methods3
Courses on Second Language Teaching
ENGL 515 Techniques and Materials for TESOL3
Select three of the following:3
TESOL: Pedagogical Grammar I
TESOL: Pedagogical Grammar II
TESOL: Teaching Listening and Speaking
TESOL: Teaching of Reading
TESOL: Teaching of Writing
TESOL: Teaching Pronunciation
Total Credits9
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the historical trends in English language teaching, its theoretical underpinnings, and the role of English in society and as an international language.
  2. Gain mastery of the sound and grammatical systems of English.
  3. Understand and apply fundamental principles in the teaching of reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  4. Understand and appreciate the importance of the principles of second language acquisition as related to the teaching of English to speakers of other languages.
  5. Construct and execute well-crafted lesson plans including a week-long teaching unit