for International Education
Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Do you need to speak many other languages to
- What is the difference between ESL and TESOL?
- What is the difference between ESL and EFL?
- What is the difference between TESL and TEFL?
- Why are there so many acronyms? Do you need
to know them all?
- What is the demand for teachers with TESL/TEFL
- What credentials do you need in TESOL
to work at the K-12, adult education, and higher education levels?
- Where are the most helpful and reliable
resources for working with English language learners?
- What faculty teach TESL/TEFL courses at UW-Eau
- Who teaches ESL at UW-Eau Claire?
- Can I add-on a TESOL license after I graduate
- Can I obtain a TEFL certificate later in
- Can I get a TEFL minor with an Education major?
- Do I really have to obtain a TEFL certificate
to find a EFL teaching position overseas? Can't I just visit the
country and get an EFL job?
- Can I seek a TESOL add-on license and a TEFL
- Should I get the TEFL Minor or the TEFL Certificate?
- Where and when can I do my TEFL Practicum?
- Which majors work "best" with a
- Which majors work "best" with a
- What universities have Masters in TESOL or Applied
- Do you have online and/or night courses?
- Can I be advised over email?
- Can I obtain the TESOL add-on license and/or
Masters in Education Professional Development (MEPD)-specialization
TESOL Program simultaneously?
- What are the requirements for the TESOL
- What is the application process for the TESOL
add-on license and/or Masters in Education Professional Development
(MEPD)-specialization TESOL Program?
- Will a faculty member evaluate my transcripts
prior to application, so that I know in advance what courses I
must take to complete the TESOL add-on license?
- 1. Do you need to speak many other languages to teach ESL/EFL?
No, you do not need to speak any other languages, because
most ESL/EFL courses are taught as English immersion courses.
So, the language of the classrom is English. Teachers do anything
necessary (e.g., gestures, humor, drama, visuals, realia, etc)
to make themselves understood to the learners in the immersion
environment. However, knowledge of another language will help
you to empathize with the learners' experiences.
- 2. What is the difference between ESL and TESOL?
Generally speaking, the term "ESL" is used to describe
English language instruction of non-native speakers. Whereas,
TESOL is the term used to describe the field as a whole, the
international organization of ESL teaching professionals, or
teacher preparation programs for State licensure.
- 3. What is the difference between ESL and EFL?
The difference between these acronyms is one of location. Second
language (SL) contexts are those in which the language both
inside and outside the classroom is English. So, the
United States, Australia, and Britain are second language contexts,
In foreign language (FL) environments, the language in the
classroom is English while the language outside of the classroom
is the students' native language. Japan, China, Mexico, Turkey,
Chile, and Korea are examples of foreign language contexts.
- 4. What is the difference between TESL and TEFL?
The "T" in both these acronyms represents "teachers."
Therefore, teachers of English as a Second Language (TESL) describes
the teacher education programs for those interested in teaching
in second language environments. TEFL is the acronym that describes
the teacher education programs for those interested in teaching
in "foreign" or overseas contexts. (Please see the
previous question for more information).
- 5. Why are there so many acronyms? Do you need to know
For TESOL professionals the jargon is a way of specifying location,
interests, differing programs, and area of expertise. It is
also a way to determine who has had training/experience in the
Only professionals in the field need to know them. The Praxis
II in ESL sometimes asks questions about acronyms (for more
information about the State of Wisconsin's Praxis requirements,
please see the Educational
Testing Service). Other colleagues and administrators do
not need to be familiar with all of them, but an understanding
of the differences between the language education and the teacher
education acronyms is helpful and appreciated.
- 6. What is the demand for teachers with TESL/TEFL preparation?
Qualified ESL instructors are currently in high demand throughout
the United States. This is particularly important for content-area
teachers to have ESL qualifications.
Over the last twenty years, there has been a steady increase
in the demand for trained EFL instructors. Globalization has
increased the need for students all over the world to speak
English fluently. Even with the recent world political issues,
there are still opportunities for EFL instructors. Numerous
recruiting companies and professional organizations are available
in the field to help prepared and interested individuals to
find appropriate placements for EFL instruction.
- 7. What credentials do you need in TESOL to work at the
K-12, adult education, and higher education levels?
For K-12 schools, individuals need a TESOL license and possilby
a license ina content area, such as a foreign language, English/language
arts, math, science, history/social studies.
For adult education and higher education, a masters degree
is usually required.
Teacher trainers usually have a doctoral degree.
- 8. Where are the most helpful and reliable resources for
working with English language learners?
Please see the Professional Resouces
- 9. What faculty teach TESL/TEFL courses at UW-Eau Claire?
Currently, all core courses are taught by Dr. Kate Mastruserio
- 10. Who teaches ESL at UW-Eau Claire?
Please refer to the ESL
- 11. Can I add-on a TESOL license after I graduate from college?
Yes, you may obtain a TESOL add-on license to attach to any
initial State teaching license at any point after you have completed
your Bachelors degree. This is called a post-bac certification.
- 12. Can I obtain a TEFL certificate later in my career?
Yes, you may obtain a TEFL certificate at any time. You need
only apply through Admissions.
- 13. Can I get a TEFL minor with an Education major?
Yes, you need only register for the TEFL minor with the appropriate
minor code. Please see the TESOL/TEFL advisor for the code and
- 14. Do I really have to obtain a TEFL certificate to find
a EFL teaching position overseas? Can't I just visit the country
and get an EFL job?
Unfortunately, you may be able to find a poorly paid position,
but there are no guarantees that you will be well treated. Additionally,
how would you feel if you were the student in a class with an
untrained teacher? How would you feel on the first day of class
when there are dozens of eyes staring at you and you do not
have any idea what to do? Learning through hard knocks is a
tremendous disservice to the EFL students, to the trained professionals
in the field (it undercuts our pay and the respect of our discipline),
"Each year, thousands of men and women from English-speaking
nations go abroad as English teachers through agencies such
as the Peace Corps or Voluntary Service Overseas, or through
myriad other government, church, business, and academic organizations.
For these novice English teachers, the challenge of learning
what to do in the classroom is compounded by the difficult process
of adjusting to life in a foreign culture. Teaching English
as a novice teacher in a foreign country is very different from
teaching as a trained professional in an English-speaking country,
and knowing how to speak English is not the same as knowing
how to teach English. Learning the craft of language teaching
by trial and error is a process that can take a long time and
involve considerable wear and tear on teachers and on students"
(Don Snow http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/snow0001.html).
- 15. Can I seek a TESOL add-on license and a TEFL certificate
Yes, individuals wishing to teach ESL in the U.S. and EFL overseas
may gain a TESOL add-on license if they are working on an initial
license in the College of Education. Some classes are similar
in the TESOL Minor and the TEFL certificate, so students need
to only take two additional courses (CI 409-TEFL Methods, 3crs.
and the TEFL Practicum, 3-6 crs.) to obtain the TEFL certificate.
- 16. Should I get the TEFL Minor or the TEFL Certificate?
The difference is simply that the TEFL Minor with 24 credits is
a more thorough preparation for teaching EFL than the 14-credit
TEFL Certificate. If you do the minor, you would automatically
obtain the certificate along the way (you would just have to complete
You can find jobs with the certificate; this would be the
minimum credential that one would want to go teach overseas.
If you need a minor with your major, you may want to do the
TEFL Minor. If you do not, but you have time in your academic
schedule to do the TEFL Minor, you may opt for that. If you
do not need a minor, and you do not have much time, then do
the TEFL Certificate.
- 17. Where and when can I do my TEFL Practicum?
The TEFL Practicum is course number Flg 375—Internship Experience.
You may do your TEFL Practicum anytime after you complete CI 409.
It is important to note that the TEFL Practicum should be completed
in a non-English speaking country and YOU will need to identify
your own practicum site; therefore, it is necessary to plan in
Some options for the TEFL Practicum are tutoring or working with
K-adult learners while you are:
- On a study abroad trip
- Working with non-native speakers online
- Working in a summer language camp overseas
- Serving as a paid instructor for a k-12 or language school
- Participating in a paid internship
- Doing a Fulbright award
- Volunteering overseas, etc
Visit the Center
for International Education and Career
Services to discuss your possibilities, but remember you
make the arrangements.
Prior to your practicum experience, let you TEFL Practicum supervisor
know when and where you are going. Discuss the TEFL Practicum
syllabus and expectations in advance. Conduct the TEFL Practicum
experience, and submit your papers or projects for grades.
- 18. Which majors work "best" with a TESOL minor?
The education majors that work well with TESOL are: foreign
languages, elementary education, English/language arts, math,
science(s), history/social studies.
- 19. Which majors work "best" with a TEFL minor?
Many diverse majors work well with TEFL. Some examples are:
foreign languages, business, art, religious studies, global
studies, linguistics, and numerous other liberal arts degrees.
- 20. What universities have Masters in TESOL or Applied Linguistics
There are many good Masters programs in TESOL throughout the
U.S. Some are the University of Hawaii, Georgia State University,
Boston University, Northern Arizona State University, and Penn
State. These programs have reputations for excellence because
they have outstanding researchers.
When seeking a graduate program in TESOL, it is best to determine
whether the program focuses on teacher preparation or research.
Then compare your goals and the program's, to verify a solid
- 21. Do you have online and/or night courses?
The UW-Eau Claire currently does not have online TESOL or TEFL
courses, but most courses are offered in the evenings from 4:30-7:30 or 5-8pm one evening a week. Courses which are always in the evenings are: FLG 378, FLG 778, CI 403/603, CI 405/605, CI 400/600. For more information about these courses, please see Dr. Reynolds homepage.
- 24. What are the requirements for the TESOL add-on license?
The requirements for an add-on license in TESOL are the same
as those for the TESOL Minor.
- 25. What is the application process for the TESOL add-on
license and/or Masters in Education Professional Development (MEPD)-specialization
Please see the application
process, and then visit the Admissions Office for undergraduate
- 26. Will a faculty member evaluate my transcripts prior
to application, so that I know in advance what courses I must
take to complete the TESOL add-on license?
This is not the standard application
process. If a faculty member could evaluate your transcripts
in advance, there would be no guarantees that certain courses
would be waived.