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UTK Department of English

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages — TESOL Certificate

  • Are you interested in teaching English abroad or in the U.S. outside public schools? 
  • Do you want to expand your teaching skills? 
  • Want to be more competitive for a Fulbright scholarship? 

The TESOL certificate might be right for you.


The TESOL certificate prepares undergrads to teach English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL) abroad or in non-public school contexts in the U.S. Students are trained to teach English to learners of all ages and proficiency levels at different instructional settings (e.g., primary, secondary, and post-secondary) around the world. This certificate emphasizes pedagogical components of teaching, including how to develop lessons and materials suitable for diverse learners of English. Students also gain hands-on experience in the ESL classroom. 

This undergraduate certificate program does NOT certify students to teach in public schools (K-12) in Tennessee or elsewhere in the U.S. 

Program requirements

Five courses (13 credit hours) must be completed at the University of Tennessee, each with a grade of C or better. At least three credit hours must be unique to this certificate and not overlap with another major, minor, or certificate. At least four credit hours must be taken in the English Department. The other nine can be taken as either Linguistics or English.

Foundation course (3 credit hours; choose one)

  • ENGL/LING 371: Foundations of the English Language
  • ENGL/LING 372: The Structure of Modern English 

Two core courses (6 credit hours; complete both) 

  • ENGL/LING 474: Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language
  • ENGL/LING 476: Second Language Acquisition

Elective (3 credit hours; choose one)

  • ENGL/LING 471: Sociolinguistics
  • ENGL/LING 477: Pedagogical Grammar for ESL Teachers   
  • ENGL/LING 575: Teaching Second Language Writing (with instructor permission) 

Practicum (1 credit hour) 

  • ENGL 493: Independent study 

Students work in an ESL/L2 classroom, with ESL/L2 students outside of class, and/or with the instructor on class preparations for 3 hours a week and submit a portfolio to the certificate coordinator overseeing the independent study at the end of the semester. Students must contact the TESOL Certificate Coordinator (see below) in advance of the semester to set up this independent study.


Students may declare the certificate by filling out this Google Form. Certificate seekers must be enrolled as degree-seeking students at the University of Tennessee. Full details on the TESOL certificate can be found in the university catalog.

Contact information 

Office of Undergraduate Studies, Department of English, McClung 311

Dennis A. McGlothin, Associate Director of Undergraduate Education

Prof. Tanita Saenkhum, TESOL Certificate Coordinator