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Registration for the Winter 2020 semester begins soon.  Watch your email for more details.
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Teaching English as a Second Language

Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Credits: 15.0
Length: One semester
Campuses: New Westminster
Credential: Certificate
Learning Format: Full-time
Offered: Summer, Winter
program overview
The Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Certificate Program is for students who want a concentrated study of teaching and tutoring English as a second or foreign language. Classes are offered in one intensive semester of study. Students gain theoretical and practical knowledge in teaching language, designing and delivering courses and managing a classroom. The program includes a 30-hour practicum.

curriculum framework

Graduation Requirements:

  • Successful completion of 15 credits
  • Minimum Grade Requirement: “C” or higher in all courses
  • 25% (4 credits) of all coursework must be completed at Douglas College *

*Effective for Summer 2017 graduation, a minimum of 50% of the required program courses must be taken at Douglas College.

Course Requirements:

Course Number Course Title Credits

TESL 4201

Overview of Teaching English as a Second Language to Adult Learners


TESL 4202

Teaching Conversation, Listening and Pronunciation to Adult Students of English as a Second Language


TESL 4203

Teaching Reading, Writing, and Grammar to Adult Students of English as a Second Language


TESL 4204

Tutoring Students of English as a Second Language


TESL 4205

Classroom Skills


TESL 4206

TESL Practicum


Total Credits



career transfer pathways
The TESL Certificate is an intensive introduction to both the theory and practice of teaching and tutoring ESL/EFL. This is a rapidly growing field both in Canada and abroad. Locally, graduates who have Bachelor’s degrees are eligible for the TESL Canada Standard Level 2 Certificate, a qualification for some private and non-profit language institutes. In addition, the demand for tutoring in English language is high in Metro Vancouver. Farther afield, global opportunities for native English speakers to teach or tutor the English language are readily available for instructors and tutors at all levels of training.  Those with a Douglas College TESL Certificate have many employment opportunities.
admission requirements

Applicants must meet the admission requirements listed below:

  • General College Admission Requirements (excluding Language Proficiency Requirement)
  • English 12 with a minimum grade of "B" or approved substitution. Please go to the link and then click on Limited Enrolment Programs to see the list of approved substitutions.
  • One reference from a former/current instructor, employer or volunteer coordinator who can attest to good character, temperament, willingness to learn, oral communication skills, ability to cooperate with others and appropriateness for undertaking TESL studies
  • An interview may be required
program cost

You can get an average cost for your program - tuition and student fees, books, uniforms, lab fees etc - on the Program Cost page. 

Only programs approved for student loan funding are listed on the Program Cost page. For all other programs, refer to the Tuition Fee page.

curriculum guidelines

Program Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this program and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the program, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

TEFL/TESL/TESOL/TEAL - What's the difference?

Basically, there's no difference. Different colleges/universities may choose to name their ESL teacher education program by any of these names.

  • TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This designation is often preferred in the United Kingdom.
  • TESL = Teaching English as a Second Language. This is the name we chose simply because it is most commonly used when people are referring to the field.
  • TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This now seems to be the industry standard for ESL teacher education programs in BC, although it is also the name of the U.S.-based professional organization for teachers of ESL.
  • TEAL = Teaching English as an Additional Language. Both this one and TESOL recognize that for many of our students, English is not their second language - it is often their third, fourth, or more. TEAL is also the acronym used by the BC-based professional organization for teachers of ESL.

How long is the program and what are the start dates?

  • The program is one semester (13.5) weeks long.
  • There are 250 hours of coursework and 30 hours of practicum.
  • The program is offered:
    • Winter Semester (beginning of January - mid-April)
    • Summer Semester (beginning of May - mid-August)
    • For exact start dates, please click here
  • In some cases, when students are willing, practicums may go past the end date of the program.
  • If you are hoping for a LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) practicum placement, you may need to wait until the following month for your practicum placement, as LINC programs have long spring and summer breaks.. This means that LINC placements for Winter semester would probably have to begin in April, and those for Summer semester would need to begin in September.
  • There are some rare cases when a practicum may begin early in order to accommodate the needs of the placement site and the TESL student teacher.

What is the weekly schedule?

Below is a typical class schedule. TESL 4201 is nine weeks long, and practicum assignments are on weekday mornings after that.

TESL schedule

Where is the program located?

Coursework and tutoring practicum at New Westminster Campus

Both semesters, the teaching practicum placements are at various locations around the Metro Vancouver area including LINC (government-sponsored) programs, private language schools and Douglas College.

Can I work while taking the program?

Working during this intensive program is not recommended. The program involves 20 hours per week of class time and 30 hours over the semester of practicum time. Students will also have plenty of reading and many assignments and projects. A typical student spends 30 to 40 hours per week on reading, assignments, and projects.

The coursework will be practical and emphasize bridging of theory and practice.

Is this program eligible for financial aid?

Yes, it is. You can obtain further information at Douglas College Financial Aid

Also, students in this program may be eligible for a bursary.  Please check the information about these on the Bursary page.  TESL students should check the General bursaries.

If I need special accommodation because of a disability, do I need to do anything special before I start the program?

Yes. If you will require services from Accessibility Services, start planning early! You should complete the steps to request services as soon as possible before the semester start date, in some cases several months ahead of the start date. For more information, please see the Accessibility Services website.

Can I take the program part time?

A limited number of seats are offered each year, first come, first served, for students who would like to take the program spread over two semesters. Students who are accepted on a part-time basis would take the program as follows:

1st semester:

TESL 4201
TESL 4202
TESL 4205

2nd semester:

TESL 4203
TESL 4204
TESL 4206

These courses would be taken with the students who are taking the program full time. In each semester, the part-time students would have two free days/week (either Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday).

If you are interested in this option, please contact the program coordinator at

Who are the TESL instructors?

Our instructors are members or our ELLA faculty. All instructors have Masters degrees and extensive experience teaching English as a Second Language in Canada and abroad as well as facilitating teacher training. They are also currently teaching ESL academic preparation classes.

You can read more about them on the TESL Faculty page.

What is the practicum like?

  • For your tutoring practicum, you will be supervised and mentored as you tutor an ESL student at Douglas College for 10 hours.
  • For your teaching practicum, you will observe ESL classrooms for a total of 10 hours. At first you will observe several teachers teaching at a range of levels. Then you will be placed in a classroom either at Douglas or in other ESL programs. You will be observed and mentored by the classroom teacher as you teach their class for 10 hours.

Do I have to find my own practicum placement?

No. We will place you in a practicum that we feel fits you, your other qualifications, and your personality.

Do I need a criminal record check for this program?

A criminal record check is not required for this program. However, if you are hoping to do your practicum in a LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) program, you may be required to get one at the beginning of your practicum. This will be arranged via your practicum placement site.

How can I get more information about the program?

  • Come to an information session.
  • By email, ask the Coordinator specific questions about the program or make an appointment to meet with the Coordinator.
  • For students new to Douglas College, sign up for a campus tour.

Can international students apply?

Yes. However, Canadian residents get priority access to this program. For more information, contact Douglas College International.

How will I be graded?

Grades will follow the standard Douglas College Credit Grading System. See the Douglas College grading and other educational policies such as appeals.

What qualifications will the program give me?

Upon successful completion of the program, you will receive a Douglas College TESL Certificate. It is recognized as a TESL Canada Teacher Training Standard Two program. If you already have a Bachelor's degree, and you successfully complete the program, you will be qualified to apply for TESL Canada Professional Certificate: Standard Two [Interim]. If you complete a Bachelor's degree after successfully completing the TESL program, you can apply for your TESL Canada Professional Certificate: Standard Two [Interim] then.

For more information on TESL Canada Professional Certification Standards, go to:

Note: If you do not have a four-year (Bachelor’s) degree, you will not be eligible for any level of TESL Canada Federation National Professional Certification.  However, you will still receive a Douglas College TESL certificate if you complete our program.

What is the difference between a level 1 and level 2 certificate?

These are TESL Canada’s designations (  A Level 1 certificate means a minimum of 100 instructional hours and a 20-hour practicum, whereas a level 2 certificate is the higher-level certificate, with a minimum of 250 instructional hours.  The length of the practicum required for a level 2 certificate used to be 20 hours, but it has now been raised (by TESL Canada) to 50 hours.  Because we have not raised the number of hours for our practicum (30 hours, including a 10-hour tutoring practicum), our certificate, which used to be a level 2, will become a level 1 after 2018.

That said, because Douglas College TESL has a very good reputation, employers in the Lower Mainland know that our graduates are well trained.  No employer in the Lower Mainland requires a level 2 certificate.  Level 1 is the normal requirement.  For teaching abroad, this is also the case.

Note that it is also possible that a graduate of our program who has been working as an English-language teacher for a while may be able to have that teaching experience recognized in lieu of the longer practicum (by TESL Canada).

How do I apply for TESL Canada certification?

Follow the instructions on the TESL Canada Website

Will you help me to find employment as an ESL teacher?

Yes. We will provide you with the knowledge you need to prepare an ESL teaching resume and apply for the kind of jobs you are looking for, whether here or abroad.

Where can I teach in Canada after this program?

Private schools: All recognized private ESL schools in the Lower Mainland require their teachers to have or be qualified for a TESL Canada Professional Certificate [Interim or Permanent].  With a Bachelor’s degree and our certificate, you will meet this requirement.
Public programs: Federally-funded programs (LINC) for immigrants also require TESL Canada certification.
Other programs: Other opportunities include professional tutoring and volunteer ESL teaching in, for example, community centres, faith-based settings and libraries. For these types of programs, a Bachelor’s degree is generally not required.

What percentage of your graduates find employment in the field?

76% of graduates from our TESL program were employed in a position related to their training when they were surveyed in 2013, nine to twenty months after they had completed the program.

Can I teach abroad after this program?

Yes. Success in this thorough program will give you confidence in facing a teaching/tutoring situation abroad. Most reputable schools require a Bachelor's degree and at least a TESL certificate. Nonetheless, each country (and even each city) has a wide variety of teaching positions and requirements. It's best to do your own research into the requirements of the country where you are interested in teaching, although your instructors will also help you with this during the TESL program.

Can I teach ESL in a BC elementary or high school after this program?

No. This program focuses on teaching English to adult learners. For information on getting certified to  teach in an elementary or secondary school, please see the BC Government’s page regarding training and professional development for K-12 teachers.

When will our graduation ceremony be?

Students who successfully complete all 6 courses, including the practicum, can apply to graduate.

  • For the Winter Semester program, the graduation ceremony will be in June.
  • For the Summer Semester program, the graduation ceremony will be in February.

Who do I contact for more information?

Nathan Hall, TESL Coordinator, can be reached by email or by phone at 604 777 6634.

That's me! Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Where can I get the reference form?

The reference form is available here. Please note that the reference form is to be submitted AFTER you have applied for admission to the program.

tuition deposit

When offered a full-time seat in this program a non-refundable, non-transferable $350 tuition deposit is required. 

upcoming info sessions
Thursday 5:00 PM January 30, 2020 NWC room: #Concourse register»
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