ESL Certificate Program

Temple University is an approved provider for the Pennsylvania Program Specialist: ESL Certificate. This certificate is described as an “add-on,” designed for teachers with a valid Pennsylvania Instructional I or II certification who are currently working with or plan to work with ESL students in public schools in Pennsylvania. This credential is not valid for teaching English abroad.

The ESL student population has been increasing dramatically across Pennsylvania. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education reported a 114.5% increase in the ESL population in Pennsylvania public schools over the past ten years, with a 1.4% decrease in all other student populations. This significant growth has led to an increased need for trained ESL teachers. Although the ESL Certificate is required for individuals to lead ESL classes, it is strongly recommended for ALL teachers to receive this training as Pennsylvania classrooms become increasingly diverse. ESL Certificate course credits can also be used toward Temple’s Master’s in TESOL.

In response to the significant need for well-trained ESL and mainstream teachers, Temple’s ESL Certificate Program offers a set of four challenging and practical courses that prepare teachers to work effectively with ESL students. Through this program, students develop a foundation in English usage, linguistic awareness and second language acquisition. They also learn to adapt and develop instructional materials for ESL students, to administer and interpret a variety of formative and summative assessments, to become knowledgeable about support services for English language learners, and to develop cultural awareness and sensitivity. Because each course includes fieldwork, students have frequent opportunities to teach ESL students throughout the Program, immediately applying newly-learned concepts and skills. Courses are taught by full-time Temple faculty to ensure students are guided by experts in the field and receive a high-quality education.

Prospective students should have an Instructional I or II certificate that is valid in Pennsylvania. Alternatively, students may be accepted if they are matriculated in a certification program. Successful applicants should be committed to improving educational opportunities for English language learners. Fluency in a second language is preferred but not required for ESL teaching.

Required Core Courses

Because the program is designed to serve practicing teachers and professionals, all classes meet in the evenings: 5:30pm-8:00pm. Courses are listed below in the recommended (not required) order.

  • TESOL 8631 Foundations of Language Teaching: Meeting the Instructional Needs of English Language Learners (offered each semester and each summer)
  • TESOL 8621 Contexts for Teaching & Learning Language (offered each spring semester and alternating summers)
  • TESOL 8621 Contexts for Teaching & Learning Language (offered each spring semester and alternating summers)
  • TESOL 8616 Teaching Second/Foreign Language Skills: Curriculum and Assessment in TESOL (offered each spring semester and alternating summers)

For detailed course descriptions, see the Graduate School Bulletin/Course Listings.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must submit:

  • A completed application available online at: ESL application form [PDF]*.
  • A copy of a Pennsylvania level I or level II teaching certificate or evidence that the candidate is enrolled in a certification program.
  • Two letters of recommendation, one from a professor and one from a professional supervisor.
  • Applicants who have taken some TESOL courses, have had experience as an ESL teacher, and/or have participated in ESL-related professional development activities may request a credential review. Please download and submit the
    ESL Credential Evaluation Form [PDF]*

Submit all application materials to:

Temple University ESL Certificate Program
Attn: ESL Coordinator
3rd Floor Ritter Hall
1301 Cecil B. Moore Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Admission Requirements for Current Temple Students

Temple’s ESL Certificate Program also has a strong commitment to preparing pre-service teachers to effectively work with ESL students.

Current Graduate Students

If you are currently a graduate student enrolled in a Temple University College of Education certification program, please submit the following:

Current Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students who are currently enrolled in a Temple University College of Education certification program are eligible for the ESL Certificate Program if they have done the following:

  1. Achieved candidacy
  2. Earned a grade of A- or above in either ECE 3209: Teaching English Language Learners in the Early Grades or En Ed-S 3338: Foundations of Language Teaching

To apply to the Program, undergraduates must submit the following:

  • A completed application available online at: ESL application form [PDF]*.
  • A one-two-page statement of interest in teaching ELLs
  • A recommendation letter from a professor

Contact Information

If you have additional questions about the ESL Certificate program, please contact
ESL Certificate Program Coordinator:
Jill Swavely Ed.D., Associate Professor of TESOL
phone: (215) 204-6120

*PDF documents require Adobe Acrobat Reader or other PDF viewer.