Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language

Program Coordinator: Linda Houts-Smith, Ph.D
Department of History, Languages, Critical Race & Women's Studies

MacLean 279B, (218) 477-4059

The Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (MA TESL) is a degree for individuals who wish to practice teaching ESL/EFL in a classroom setting in a variety of contexts: K-12 schools, intensive English language programs, adult basic education programs, or community college programs. It is intended to prepare individuals who have previous training or experience in a related field, such as education, English, or other language study. While the master’s degree may lead to an add-on K-12 license in ESL for already certified teachers, it will not provide initial preparation for individuals who do not hold an existing license. Since licensure requirements vary from state to state, students should consult licensing boards in the states where they wish to work to determine whether the MA TESL will meet the requirements in the state of the student’s choice.

Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language

Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language - 36 credits

Admission Requirements

Information on Admission Requirements can be found on the Graduate Studies webpage.

Student Learning Outcomes

Program Goals

  • Graduates will meet the standards for teachers of ESL set by the Minnesota State Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, North Dakota Educational Standards and Practices Board, TESOL, and NCATE.
  • Graduates will achieve passing scores on the MTLE for ESL exam.
  • Graduates will be able to teach English language learners in grades k-12 in Minnesota.
  • Graduates will be able to teach English language learners in grades k-12 in North Dakota.
  • Graduates will be able to teach ESL in community colleges and universities.

Student Learning Outcomes

Language Students know, understand, and use the major theories and research related to the structure and acquisition of language to help English language learners (ELLs).

Culture Students know, understand, and use major concepts, principles, theories, and research related to the nature and role of culture and cultural groups to construct supportive learning environments for ELLs.  They demonstrate understanding of how cultural groups and individual cultural identities affect language learning and school achievement.

Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction Students know, understand, and use evidence-based practices and strategies related to planning, implementing, and managing standards-based ESL. Candidates are knowledgeable about program models and skilled in teaching strategies for developing and integrating language skills.

Assessment Students demonstrate understanding of issues and concepts of assessment and use standards-based procedures with ELLs.

Professionalism Students keep current with new instructional techniques, research results, advances in the ESL field, and education policy issues and demonstrate knowledge of the history of ESL teaching. They use such information to reflect on and improve their instruction and assessment practices. Candidates work collaboratively with school staff and the community to improve the learning environment, provide support, and advocate for ELLs and their families.

Research Students demonstrate knowledge of secondary research practices as well as qualitative and quantitative research methods through the application of these practices in a final thesis or project.

Program Delivery Mode
Land plus: face-to-face where some online courses may be available or required

Core Requirements ( 30 credits )

ED 602 Statistics in Educational Research (2)
ED 603 Methods of Research (2)
LANG 557 Second Language Acquisition & Language Teaching (3)
LANG 693 Qualitative Research Methods (2)
TESL 551 English Structures (3)
TESL 625 Social, Cultural, and Political Contexts of Language and Literacy (3)
TESL 654 Pedagogical Grammar (3)
TESL 670 Designing ESL Courses (3)
TESL 675 Assessment in TESL (3) or
LANG 575 Second Language Assessment (3)
ED 669 or TESL 669 Internship (1-10; 2 min) *was ED 694V
TESL 699 Thesis (Plan A) (4) or
TESL 696 Project/Action Research (Plan B) (4)

Related Requirements

K-12 teachers seeking licensure in ESL who have not previously studied a second or foreign language for one year at the college level or its equivalent (two years study in high school is equivalent to one year in college) are required to do so to meet the Minnesota State Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board requirements for teachers of ESL. Any non-native language may be taken, and a number of options are available at MSU Moorhead or through the Tri-college system for students who must meet the requirement while pursuing the master’s degree.  These courses are offered at the undergraduate level.  Students should consult their advisors at the time of admission to determine whether they already meet the requirement or not.

Restricted Electives ( 6 credits )

Choose from six credits:
TESL 555 Oral Discourse Structures (3)
TESL 556 Written Discourse Structures (3)
TESL 627 Cultures in the Schools (3)
TESL 672 Content-based Language Instruction (3)
TESL 690 Topics in TESL (1-4)
TESL 697 Independent Study (1-4)
TESL 698 Continuing Registration (1)