Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Degree Options:

Master of Arts
Master of Arts with Initial Teaching Licensure

Other Options:

Additional ESL Licensure
Graduate Certificate for Professional Development

There are growing numbers of English language learners in west central Wisconsin, the Twin Cities, and the world. More and more, teachers and others who work with students or employees with limited proficiency in English feel that their own training and education is inadequate to meet this challenge.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls offers courses and degree plans that can prepare you to teach English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). The courses we offer are approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to meet licensure for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). In addition, teachers in Minnesota may also pursue certification upon completion of this program.

Who Should Enroll

  • Practicing teachers who want to earn a master's degree and improve their skills in working with limited English proficiency (LEP) students.
  • Certified teachers who want to add licensure in ESL.
  • Individuals with a baccalaureate degree who are seeking an initial teaching license in ESL.
  • International students who are seeking a master's degree in TESOL and an opportunity to improve their English skills while studying in the United States.
  • ESL or bilingual education professionals who want to teach in countries around the world or in Adult Basic Education (ABE) positions in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Key Features

  • Meets requirements for certification to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Wisconsin. May meet requirements in other states.
  • Learn ways to adapt current teaching practices and techniques to suit ESL learners from different cultural backgrounds, age groups, and language backgrounds.
  • Increase sensitivity and respect for non-native cultural and language groups.
  • Interact with non-native speakers in an instructional setting.

Program Curriculum of Master of Arts Degree

The Master of Arts degree in TESOL is designed for ESL licensed or bilingual education professionals and for those who want to teach in foreign countries or in Adult Basic Education (ABE) positions in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Students will complete 36 credits and may choose a degree plan with or without a thesis.

See Degree Requirements

Program Curriculum for Master of Arts Degree and Initial Teaching Licensure

Those who would like to earn their initial teaching certification and then continue with their program of study to earn a master's degree in TESOL may do so. Completing both the teaching certification requirements and the degree requires 37 credits, 19 of which are at the 700 level.

See Degree Requirements

Program Curriculum for ESL Certification

See Degree Requirements

Program Curriculum for Graduate Certificate

See Degree Requirements

Language Requirements

Students must demonstrate proficiency in a single foreign language before completion of the program. Foreign language proficiency is determined by having  two years of high school study, four semesters of university study, or another equivalent means.

Admission Requirements

Students must meet the general admissions requirements for graduate study at UWRF.  International students must have a minimum score of 550 on the paper-based version of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or 80 on the Internet-based version of the TOEFL. See additional requirements for international students.

For More Information  

Linda Jacobson
Program Manager


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