Open doors of opportunity by teaching English to speakers of other languages.

I served on the mission field teaching English in indonesia for four years before coming to Cook. When I was teaching, I felt like I could do a better job serving my students, which made me want to seek further training.

Jeremy Beal, M.A. in TESOL ('13)


English has become the most widely used language in the world today, particularly in the areas of science, commerce and education. Tens of thousands of students in developing countries are required to learn English in school. Thousands more study English in order to pursue careers or educational programs demanding English language skills. Refugees and immigrants to the United States desire English to survive and to establish themselves in their new homeland. There is thus a considerable demand for qualified teachers of English both here and abroad.

Why TESOL at Biola?

To help meet the need for trained Christian teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL), the Department of TESOL and Applied Linguistics offers two regular programs in TESOL on campus: a Graduate Certificate in TESOL and an M.A. in TESOL. The programs are academically rigorous, yet focus on the practical aspects of teaching in a variety of settings. The department also seeks to serve teachers desiring to continue their professional advancement or upgrade their qualifications, and non-degree students interested in gaining basic teaching or tutoring skills, by offering a variety of separate courses, from introductory to advanced.

The M.A. in TESOL encompasses the goal of the certificate program plus the additional goal of broader academic training. Teachers are equipped for work in and beyond the classroom in administration, training, course design, etc.

The focus of the TESOL programs is post secondary and adult education. Those interested in K-12 ESL in U.S. schools should consult with the School of Education.

Program Highlights

  • Receive biblically centered training in TESOL from top-notch faculty who are active practitioners and researchers in both the TESOL and Christian English Language Teaching fields.

  • Be challenged, mentored, and nurtured by faculty and peers with extensive experience in cross-cultural service around the world.

  • Develop expertise in language teaching marked with professional preparation, contextual sensitivity, cultural appropriateness, and ethical service in the name of Jesus.

  • Practice your TESOL skills in many venues in Southern California and Los Angeles, one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world.

  • Benefit from the resources of Biola University — an evangelical university with a 109-year history of biblically centered education, including the Talbot School of Theology.


More Questions:

  • Is this the right degree for me?

    Biola offers several ways to get TESOL training. Here’s a summary to help ensure that you’re enrolling in the best one:

    • M.A. in Applied Linguistics + Concentration/Certificate in TESOL
      • You prefer a broader applied linguistics perspective than the M.A. TESOL offers and want to be prepared both to teach ESL/EFL and to do other applied linguistics work, such as language planning, lexicography, literacy, orthography, or translation. (You recognize that this means sacrificing some of the in-depth TESOL courses you would get by doing the M.A. TESOL.)
    • M.A. in Intercultural Studies + Certificate in TESOL
      • You want a strong foundation in cultural and missiological principles and you want to teach ESL/EFL.
    • M.A. in TESOL
      • You want to teach ESL/EFL. You are interested in working in the U.S. with college or university students or immigrants or refugee adults, or you are interested in working internationally with any age group. You want to be prepared to not only teach any skill at any level, but also design courses, materials, and tests; train teachers; and administer programs.
    • M.A.T. or M.A. Education Personalized (TESOL concentration)
      • You want to work in a K-12 school. These programs offered by the School of Education allow you to take three to five TESOL classes as part of your degree.

    If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email Dr. Kitty Purgason.

  • Will I be able to get a job when I finish an M.A. TESOL?

    It depends on where you want to work. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities as well as jobs for qualified grads with an MA TESOL in many parts of the world and in some parts of the U.S. However, it may be hard to find full-time paid work in a particular area, if you are unable to relocate. Employment opportunities can also come and go as local economies and world events intervene. It’s always a good idea to do a “job search” before investing in further education. Such a job search will not only let you know what kinds of jobs are available, but also what additional qualifications they have, such as “three years’ experience.” Biola faculty have an extensive network of mission agencies, NGOs, schools of all types, professional associations, and alumni and are happy to give graduates advice. We also correspond with prospective students, so if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email Dr. Kitty Purgason. 

  • What is a certificate in TESOL and what does it qualify me to do?

    There is no governing body regulating “certificates” in TEFL, TESL, TESOL, or ELT. Thus, you may find online businesses, schools, or universities offering certificates that range from 60 “hours” of work to a full year of graduate study. In choosing a certificate, ask yourself these questions:

    • Am I getting this certificate in order to have piece of paper that is necessary for a job or visa? Am I getting this in order to be confident and qualified in my teaching?
    • What kind of certificate does my potential employer require?

    One of the original entry-level certificates is a CELTA. It requires 120 hours including six hours of supervised practice teaching. This can be considered a good standard against which to measure other certificates.

    The kind of jobs that require a certificate are usually language institutes in the U.S. (such as Kaplan, EF, ELS, etc) which have entry-level jobs (that is, they don’t require an M.A. and they have more part-time than full-time openings) as well as a variety of institutions around the world. In the U.S. a K-12 job will probably require a credential issued by the state (not a certificate); a university ESL position is likely to require an M.A.; qualifications for jobs teaching immigrant or refugee adults vary depending on the state. Internationally, the more developed a nation’s educational system is, the more likely they are to have more stringent requirements for teachers. To sum up, you must first look at the job in order to know whether a given certificate will suffice.

    Biola offers three kinds of certificates:

    • Graduate Certificate in TESOL – 25 units for someone with a bachelor’s degree. This is the first year of the M.A. TESOL and can be done on its own or in conjunction with another M.A., such as M.A. ICS or M.A. Applied Linguistics.
    • Undergraduate Certificate in TESOL – 18 units as part of an undergraduate degree.
    • Departmental Entry-Level Certificates – Students who have done one or more classes, but not enough for the above listed certificates, can be given a certificate that specifies the number of contact hours. One three-unit class is 45 contact hours or 180 hours total (assuming three hours of homework per in-class contact hour).
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