The University of Virginia TESOL Certificate

Introduction and Rationale

The College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia offers a TESOL Certificate through the Linguistics Program and the Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC). This Certificate is designed to provide candidates with the opportunity to learn essential aspects of linguistics and language education while gaining ESL classroom observation, tutoring, and teaching experiences.

As English continues to expand as a medium for global communication, the demand for qualified English language instructors increases. Likewise, as non-native English-speaking immigrant populations increase in this country, teachers of English as a Second Language are needed to provide linguistic and cultural training. These developments have raised the awareness of the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) among students at the University of Virginia.

This strong interest in English as a Second Language teaching among UVA students is evidenced by enrollment in TESOL-related courses across the University. As UVA students look into language teaching opportunities after graduation, many of them have asked whether their applied linguistics related study can be recognized by the University through conferral of a TESOL certificate. Many job opportunities and graduate-level programs are dependent on TESOL certification, and even though such students often have the necessary knowledge and skills for these opportunities, without a certificate, these UVA graduates struggle to compete with other applicants whose institutions provide this certification. The UVA TESOL Certificate will provide students with the knowledge and certification to help them meet the needs of English language learners.

Candidate Eligibility

The UVA TESOL Certificate will appeal primarily to students in linguistics, foreign language, and other humanities majors, but the Certificate is open to both undergraduate and graduate students from any program of study at UVA. By completing a prescribed set of courses that provide students with knowledge and experience in the field of language teaching, candidates for the proposed Certificate will demonstrate that they have met the academic standards required to earn the TESOL Certificate recognition on their University transcripts.

The TESOL Certificate differs from a degree program in that the Certificate is a concentration that students can take in addition to their major or minor. The Certificate provides candidates with specialized knowledge in the field of English language teaching, but is less extensive than a Master's in TESOL program. It should also be noted that the TESOL Certificate does not replace (or provide) K-12 certification or endorsement in ESL; students interested in such should contact the UVA Curry School of Education. The TESOL Certificate is designed primarily for those who wish to teach English abroad, or who wish to work with non-K-12 populations in the USA. In these contexts, candidates will benefit from a solid knowledge of language fundamentals paired with pedagogical training and teaching experience.

Components of the TESOL Certificate

Research into the quality of TESOL training highlights three important components to a successful TESOL Certificate program: applied linguistic knowledge, pedagogical training, and practical teaching experience. The UVA TESOL Certificate program includes core courses that require exposure to each of these three components: Applied Linguistic Knowledge (primarily through LING 3400 and LNGS 5000), Pedagogical Training (primarily through LING 5090), and Practical Teaching Experience (primarily through LING 5100). Students then further their training in language use with one required elective from an approved list of relevant courses.

UVA TESOL Certificate Requirements

Required courses:

Students must complete the following courses (totaling 9 credits):

  • LING 3090 - Teaching English as a Second Language (3 credits) 
  • LING 3101 - ESL Teaching Practicum: Language (1 credit)
  • LING 3102 - ESL Teaching Practicum: Culture (1 credit)
  • LING 3103 - ESL Teaching Practicum: Writing (1 credit)
  • LING 3400 - Structure of English (3 credits)

Students must also complete two additional courses (totaling a minimum of 6 credits) from the following list:

  • AMST 2460 - Language in the US (3 credits)
  • ANTH 2400 - Language and Culture (3 credits)
  • ANTH 2410 - Sociolinguistics (3 credits)
  • ANTH 5480 - Literacy and Orality (3 credits)
  • ANTH 2430 - Languages of the World (3 credits)
  • ANTH 7541 - Topics in Sociolinguistics (3 credits)
  • EDIS 5270 - Teaching Reading and Writing to ELLs (3 credits)
  • EDIS 5422 - Education Across Cultures (3 credits)
  • EDIS 5423 - English Linguistics (3 credits)
  • EDIS 5470 - ESL Assessment and Curriculum Design (3 credits)
  • EDIS 7842 - Teaching ELLs: Theory, Policy & Practice (3 credits)
  • LNGS 2220/7220 - History and Structure of Black English (3 credits) 
  • LNGS 2240/7240 - Southern American English (3 credits)
  • LNGS 5000 - Applied Linguistics for Teachers of Foreign Languages (3 credits)

Please note that an undergraduate student MUST complete one of the certificate courses with a grade of B- or higher before applying to the program.

Total credits required for TESOL Certificate program: 15

Procedure for Application and Completion

Candidates for the TESOL Certificate should:

  1. Submit the TESOL Certificate admission application form and proposed plan of study;
  2. Meet with the TESOL Certificate Advisor to receive admission into the program;
  3. Earn a passing grade in all courses listed on the student's TESOL Certificate plan of study; and
  4. Submit an application for completion of the TESOL Certificate.

Questions about the TESOL Certificate can be directed to