Program: M.A., Teaching English as a Second Language

Program Description

TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) also is termed Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and is closely related to TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). TESL deals with teaching methods, principles, ways to teach different kinds of students, curriculum design, lesson planning, attention to the four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and assessment. Along with its own focus, the field draws from research and methods in linguistics, education and other fields. This degree is for candidates who are preparing to teach ESL in the United States to adult school and community college students, as well as to adults overseas.

Program Requirements

A. General Admission Requirements for the M.A. Degree in TESL

Students should consult the Graduate Studies section of this Catalog for the University requirements.

Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 2.85 in the last 60 units of their B.A. degree work and satisfy the University requirements for graduate admission. Speakers of languages other than English who hold postsecondary degrees from non-English-speaking institutions must have a minimum score on one of the following:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT): 85
  • International English Language Test System (IELTS) Academic: 7
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced English Exam (formerly CAE): 185
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic: 64
  • International Test of English Proficiency (iTEP) Academic: 4.5
  • Duolingo English Test (DET): 115
  • Jitsuyo Eigo Gino Kentei [Test in Practical English Proficiency] Common Scale for English (EIKEN CSE): 2630 (1)
  • Global Test of English Communication Computer-Based Test (GTEC CBT): 1275

Meeting the minimum GPA and English proficiency test score does not guarantee admission into the program.

B. Academic Standards

1. University Regulations

Graduate students will be placed on academic notice (formerly academic probation) whenever their GPA falls below 3.0 in all units attempted. To be removed from academic notice, students must earn sufficient grades in the following semester of enrollment to raise their GPA to 3.0 or above. Failure to do so will result in disqualification from the University. University regulations allow graduate students to repeat up to 6 units of credit in which a grade of “B-” or below has been received. (See the Graduate Studies section of this Catalog.)

2. Additional Regulations for the M.A. Degree in TESL

  1. Students will be disqualified from the TESL M.A. program if they do not pass the graduate project on their second attempt.
  2. No grade below “B-” can be counted in the formal program. Any grade of “C+” or lower must be repeated. If the student does not receive a grade of “B-” or better on the second attempt, the student will be disqualified from the M.A. in TESL program. University regulations allow graduate students to repeat only up to 6 units. The repeat grade will appear on the transcript. Students must request departmental approval to repeat a course and file a Course Repeat Request Form with Graduate Studies in order to count the repeat grade for their degree.
  3. Course substitutions: Taking courses outside the department to count toward the required core courses, whether in another department or at another institution, is normally not allowed and may be done only under extenuating circumstances after consultation and prior approval. Courses must be equivalent in content and quality to the relevant courses in the Linguistics/TESL program curriculum. Students must earn a grade of “B” or higher in all courses to be used as replacements for required core courses in the program.
  4. Foreign Language Component: Students must earn a grade of “B” or higher in all foreign language component courses.

C. Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in TESL

Candidates completing the program leading to an M.A. degree in TESL will have a fundamental understanding of the core areas in TESL at an advanced level.

1. Required Core Courses (30 units)

LING 502 Seminar in Research on Second Language Acquisition (3)
LING 506 Foundational Concepts of Phonetics and Phonology (3)
LING 510 Foundational Concepts in Linguistics (3)
LING 517 Foundational Concepts of Language Development and Acquisition (3)
LING 520 Issues in ESL Reading and Writing (3)
LING 521 Issues in ESL Listening and Speaking (3)
LING 525 English Structures for ESL/EFL Teaching (3)
LING 530 Introduction to TESL (3)
LING 555 TESL Practicum (3)
LING 568 TESL Testing and Assessment (3)

2. Electives (6 units)

In consultation with the chair/advisor, candidates will select 6 units of electives at the 400-, 500- or 600-level, as long as the total number of 400-level courses does not exceed 9 units in their program. Coursework may include LING courses or courses in other departments in consultation with the chair/advisor.

Preapproved Electives for the M.A. in TESL

EED 577 Language Arts Instruction and English Language Development (3)
EED 626/SED 626 Literacy Instruction for English Learners K-12 (3)
LING 403 Introduction to Morphology (3)
LING 404 Syntax (3)
LING 406 Language and Social Interaction (3)
LING 408 Semantics and Pragmatics (3)
LING 411 Introduction to Historical Linguistics (3)
LING 427 Languages in Contact (3)
LING 447 Bilingualism in the U.S. (3)
LING 455 Computational Linguistics (3)
LING 495A-Z Selected Topics in Linguistics (3-3-3)
LING 500 Seminar in Phonetics (3)
LING 501 Seminar in Phonology (3)
LING 503 Seminar in Cognitive Linguistics (3)
LING 505 Seminar in Discourse Analysis (3)
LING 515 Survey of Applied Linguistics (3)
LING 541 Seminar in Sociolinguistics (3)
LING 566 Research Methods for Linguistics (3)
LING 578 English for Specific Purposes (3)
LING 590A-Z Selected Topics in Linguistics/TESL (3-3)
LING 604 Acoustic and Instrumental Phonetics (3)
SED 514 Computers in Instruction (3)
SED 625ESL Theory and Research in Teaching ESL in Multilingual Classrooms (3)
SPAN 400 Structure of the Spanish Language (3)
SPAN 401 Language and Culture (3)
SPAN 425 Spanish Phonetics (3)
SPAN 497 Comparative Structure of Spanish and English (3)
SPAN 530 Spanish Dialectology (3)
SPAN 600 History of the Spanish Language (3)
SPAN 603 Seminar in Romance Linguistics (3)

3. Foreign Language Component

Graduate students are required to complete two 3-unit progressive semesters (or the equivalent) of coursework in one language foreign to them. Students whose native language is not English and who received a substantial part of their education in a language of instruction other than English can pass all or part of the language requirement with evidence at the discretion of the department. If prior coursework is used to satisfy this requirement, only courses completed within five years of admission to the program will be accepted.

Students should fulfill this requirement within the first two semesters of enrollment in the program.

4. Culminating Experience (3 units)

In order to complete the M.A. degree in TESL, graduate students submit a graduate project, which is comprehensive in nature. Graduate students work on the different components of this project throughout the program; the final project is publicly presented during their last/graduating semester. These 3 units of culminating experience are part of the degree count.

Graduate Project

Students during their last semester will enroll in LING 698D. Students on academic notice or who have remaining incompletes, or who have not completed the foreign language component, will not be permitted to enroll in LING 698D until these issues are all resolved. Students who fail the graduate project a second time are disqualified from the M.A. in TESL degree program.

Total Units Required for the M.A. Degree: 39


Department of Linguistics/TESL
Chair: Anna Joaquin
Associate Chair: Stephanie Kim
Sierra Tower (ST) 805
(818) 677-3453

Graduate Coordinator: Stephanie Kim
(818) 677-0907

Program Learning Outcomes

Students receiving a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of linguistic theory in phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax.
  2. Demonstrate a solid knowledge of TESL theory and methodology.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of how theories of language structure and theories of language in context and pedagogy can be applied in teaching language.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to read, analyze and critically evaluate research and demonstrate a high level of critical thinking and problem solving.
  5. Demonstrate skills in the design of TESL testing and assessment, as well as TESL curriculum development.