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Teaching ESL

Teaching English has become an enormous global industry. Many legitimate work sites now require a master’s degree in ESL, a certificate from a reputable institution, or course work in this or related fields such as applied linguistics or language education. The courses offered by the Department of English can serve to enhance a student’s chance of securing an appropriate position teaching English abroad, or of being admitted to a graduate program in Applied Linguistics or ESL.

While our department does not offer a degree in teaching ESL, we do offer several courses to help prepare students interested in this field, which also fulfill some degree requirements in the College of Education’s program in Foreign Language or ESL teacher training. Most of these 400-level courses are offered on a two-year rotation. For more information, view ourĀ Undergraduate Course Descriptions.

English Department Courses:

English 474: Teaching English as a Second Language I
Introduces issues in teaching ESL such as the political dimensions of the enterprise; theory and research into how adults learn second languages; the effect of variable attributes of learners (for example, age, motivation, individual cognitive style) on language learning; and varieties of methodologies in teaching ESL. It assumes no background in ESL, but does assume experience with language learning.

English 476: Second Language Acquisition
Explores, in detail, research on and theories of how languages are learned, beginning with infants learning their first languages, and moving to adults learning second languages.

English 477: Pedagogical Grammar for ESL Teachers
Focuses on features of the structure of English that create problems for English learners. It is intended to help (prospective and current) ESL teachers understand English structure well enough to be able to answer learners’ questions with accuracy and confidence.

English 575: Issues in L2 Rhetoric and Composition
Examines rhetorical, political, linguistic, and pedagogical issues in teaching writing at English language institutes or at the college or university level (particularly freshman composition) to learners whose first or strongest language is not English.

Related Courses
The English Department and the Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics also offer several other courses that might be helpful for those interested in teaching ESL. These courses include English 371 (Foundations of the English Language), 372 (The Structure of Modern English), 471 (Sociolinguistics), and Linguistics 200 (Language, Linguistics, and Society).

For additional information about teaching ESL , contact Tanita Saenkhum at tsaenkhum@utk.edu


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