TESL/TEFL Basic Certificate

The Basic Certificate in Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (TESL/TEFL) is directed at individuals in the following groups with an interest in ESL teaching:

  • Undergraduate students from any major
  • Community members
  • In-service ESL/EFL teachers wishing to update their teaching methodologies
  • Subject-matter teachers of students who speak languages other than English
  • ESL/EFL program administrators interested in curriculum design and teaching methodology

Individuals who hold the Certificate are prepared to teach ESL students in a variety of situations:

  • in community college ESL/EFL programs
  • in adult schools
  • in public school classrooms
  • in private ESL/EFL schools
  • in university ESL/EFL institutes
  • in business
  • in a wide range of overseas locations
  • in community college ESL/EFL programs (in conjunction with a relevant master’s degree)

The Certificate is not a public school teaching credential. (However, there is some overlap between the Basic Certificate and the CLAD (Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development) Certificate, which is applicable to public school teaching.

Since more than 60% of children entering the San Diego Unified School System speak a language other than English as their first language, the knowledge obtained in the certificate classes is essential for public school teachers to understand the issues involved in acquiring English and how these interact with content learning.

Learn more about the program by visiting our Program Requirements page or our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.


How do I apply for the Certificate program?

Fill out a Certificate Enrollment Form and return it to Certificate in TESL/TEFL, Department of Linguistics, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-7727.

You can register, and pay for, courses for the Basic Certificate in any of three ways:

  1. as an undergraduate candidate for a bachelor's degree, taking the courses as electives (Note: Linguistics, Liberal Studies and English majors may count all Certificate course work toward their major requirements, but other majors may count no more than six units toward both an undergraduate major or minor (other than a Linguistics minor) and the Certificate, unless otherwise stated).  Information regarding fees can be found at the following web site: http://bfa.sdsu.edu/fm/co/sfs/studentfees.html

  2. as a graduate candidate for a master's degree, taking the courses as electives.  Additional information is available at: http://arweb.sdsu.edu/es/admissions/grad/index.html   

  3. through the College of Extended Studies ("Open University").  Additional information is available at: http://www.ces.sdsu.edu/Pages/Engine.aspx?id=539

For alternatives 1-2, you must have been admitted to San Diego State University through the regular application process. For alternative 3, no application or acceptance procedure is necessary; the College of Extended Studies is the division of the university open to the general public. (Note: the course work and all Certificate requirements are the same regardless of the way you register and pay for them, and there is no difference between Certificates earned by individuals registering through Extended Studies and those earned by individuals registering as admitted students.)


How do I obtain the completion of certificate document?

After completion of the coursework and tutoring requirement for the certificate, students should contact the department office and provide an unofficial transcript showing that relevant coursework has been completed. Students need to submit the Completion of ESL tutoring form to the department to demonstrate completion of the ESL tutoring requirement.