What Are the Different Types of ESL Degree Programs?

G. Wiesen

Different types of English as a Second Language (ESL) degrees are often based on the level of qualification such programs offer to students. Some of the most common curricula in this field result in a bachelor's degree being awarded to a student. There are also postgraduate ESL degree programs that can provide individuals with certification after the completion of a college curriculum, or that allow students to continue on toward a higher level. Some of these programs are designed for those interested in ESL education, which allows them to instruct others to then teach students.

Vocabulary cards for learning English.
Vocabulary cards for learning English.

There are many ESL degree programs that culminate in a bachelor's degree for someone interested in teaching ESL students. Teachers with this type of education can work in countries where English is predominantly spoken, providing instruction for students who learned a different primary language. They can also travel and teach students in other countries that wish to learn English even though a different language is their primary one.

Numerous ESL degree programs have also been established to provide different levels of certification for students. Courses can be attended while students are still in their undergraduate education that provides a special focus on ESL instruction. These classes can certify students to teach in some areas, though additional training may be required in certain regions. There are also postgraduate certification courses available for students who already have a degree and who want additional training in ESL instruction.

Some ESL degree programs are established for students that wish to pursue postgraduate coursework in this field. These classes can ultimately culminate in a master's degree or doctorate and allow someone to more fully explore the theory and practice behind second-language acquisition. Such programs are typically not required for someone interested in teaching at a secondary level, such as a high school. Individuals interested in teaching at a college or university, or overseas in other countries, may find higher levels of education to be advantageous.

Students interested in teaching ESL pedagogy and methods to others can also benefit from certain specific ESL degree programs. These courses are usually aimed at instructing teachers in "ESL education," rather than just the actual process of teaching ESL in the classroom. Students who complete these programs and receive a degree are typically those interested in teaching at a college or university, with a focus on education instruction. Such ESL degree programs usually lead to a doctorate and require a great deal of research and additional study.

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