Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate

The graduate Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate Program is designed to prepare currently-licensed teachers to effectively, purposefully, and passionately teach English learners (EL). Teachers who complete this certificate program will be endorsed for a Wisconsin ESL license. They will also be well-qualified to teach English learners in a way that is knowledgeable and respectful of language and cultural difference, which seeks to add to rather than replace cultural and linguistic knowledge, and which ensures the learning of language and content for each EL they encounter.


Applicants to these programs must

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in education and provide an official transcript
  • Provide a resume that documents at least one year of full-time regular teaching experience in a K-12 classroom and current teaching position in a K-12 classroom 
  • Provide copies of teaching license or certificate
  • Have one of the following:
    • An overall undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.85 on a 4.00 scale, or
    • An average of at least 3.00 in the last half of all undergraduate work, or
    • An average of at least 3.00 for no fewer than 12 semester credits of graduate study at another accredited graduate institution
  • Provide documentation of prior learning in a world language other than English
  • Complete a successful criminal background check (initiated by UWL)

Criminal background check

The WI Department of Public Instruction (DPI) requires that candidates for admission to a teacher education, administration, or pupil services program successfully pass a criminal background check (CBC) as one criterion for admission. By applying for admission to one of these programs, candidates agree to provide the necessary personal information to UWL in order to initiate their CBC and to complete their portion of the process prior to the deadline specified in their admission letter. Teacher candidates are responsible for all costs associated with their criminal background check(s).


The graduate TESOL Certificate Program is aligned with InTASC Teacher Standards, Wisconsin DPI TESOL Standards, and CAEP/TESOL (ESL) Standards.

(18 credits) 

ENG 534Introduction to Linguistics: Theory and Application3
EDU 610Second Language Acquisition: Research and Applications3
EDU 645Teaching with(in) Culture3
EDU 680TESOL Methods I: Language Learning through Content3
EDU 681TESOL Methods II: Teaching and Assessing Language3
EDU 780TESOL Practicum3
Total Credits18

Program completion and eligibility for certification

Eligibility for ESL-English as a Second Language (1395) certification is contingent upon:

  • Completion of all graduate program requirements
  • Cumulative graduate grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.01
  • Meeting all Wisconsin statutory requirements for a teaching license2
  • Completed DPI employment verification form indicating at least 3 years of employment as the teacher of record in K-12 schools

Students who do not meet the 3.0 GPA requirement and are seeking readmission through appeal must demonstrate content knowledge by earning a passing score on the English to Speakers of Other Languages Praxis II test (test code 5362).


Out of state license holders may contact the School of Education Certification Officer for assistance with applying for an equivalent WI teaching license.