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What Is an MS in Education – TESOL?

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESOL, encompasses what used to be called TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) which emphasized teaching English in countries where the language is not widely used in daily life, and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), for learners who need to use English in their daily lives.

In addition to preparing teachers in the U.S. as K-12 English Language Learner (ELL) or ESL (English as a Second Language) instructors, TESOL is widely used around the world, and many TESOL-certified teachers choose to work overseas as a teacher or administrator, or work with the Peace Corps or other international educational programs.

Classrooms Are Becoming Increasingly Diverse

For educators in the United States, the multicultural nature of classrooms with students who are not native English speakers presents a challenge. This increasing diversity has resulted in an increased need for teachers who have specialized training in working with ELL and ESL students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the percentage of public school students in the United States who were ELLs in fall 2016 was 9.6%, or 4.9 million students, the majority of whom were native Spanish speakers at over 76%. “Arabic, Chinese, and Vietnamese were the next most commonly reported home languages,” according to NCES.

University of Southern Maine’s Online MS in Education – TESOL Program

University of Southern Maine offers a Master of Science in Education in TESOL online program for a wide range of ESL professionals. For educators who have a current or prior teacher certification, the USM program meets Maine’s requirements for ESL teacher endorsement.

Graduates of USM’s MS in Education – TESOL program will be equipped to teach multilevel classrooms with learners from diverse backgrounds. In addition, they will learn about the nature and role of culture and cultural groups. Graduates will be able to demonstrate an understanding of language as a system, and will become familiar with a wide range of standards-based teaching resources and how to use them effectively.

The courses in USM’s TESOL master’s degree program include Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom, which examines second language and cross-cultural communication. Students also study aspects of the English language within the second language classroom context. Another course focuses on developing and implementing relevant content learning for second language students of all ages and proficiency levels.

The curriculum includes a course on research methods and techniques, and a course examining the role of literacy for learners of linguistic and cultural diversity. One course is devoted to teaching writing to multilingual learners where students will draw on current research, theory and classroom practice. Students will also learn about a variety of assessments and ESL testing and evaluation.

The program curriculum covers the history and current policies of responsible conduct of research in literacy and includes a seminar in second language literacy. The curriculum concludes with a TESOL practicum. This practicum is designed for ESL teachers, mainstream teachers working on getting an ESL endorsement, international students, adult educators, and other students matriculated into the MSEd TESOL program.

Learn more about USM’s Master of Science in Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) online program.


English First: What Is TESOL? What Do TESOL Teachers Do?National Center for Education Statistics: English Language Learners

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