Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language Linguistics (CESL)

Interested in helping others learn English?

The Certificate in Teaching ESL Linguistics (CESL) is a program directed at undergraduate students with little or no teaching experience. The program introduces students to foundational topics in English grammar, second language acquisition, and classroom practices. Successful completion of a 30-hour practicum in an adult ESL program is required.

The CESL alone does not allow the holder to teach in the K-12 system. The certificate program prepares students for advanced study in applied linguistics and TESL Canada certified programs. When combined with further professional certification, this program provides the specialized linguistic knowledge necessary to teach English language skills to ESL learners. 

Courses are primarily offered at the Burnaby campus but a few introductory courses are also offered at SFU Surrey. Students should consult with the Department of Linguistics regarding availability of courses at each location.

How does the application process work?    

Admission to the CESL program is not automatic. In fact, each semester, some applications are not successful. We are interested in candidates whose goals and interests suit the program, and who are likely to succeed in the required courses. Once received, your application will be screened and then you may be invited for an interview.

Applications are evaluated on the basis of merit. The Department will consider applicants' academic records, communication skills as assessed during the required interview, interests and motivations as identified in the statement of purpose, and personal qualities as identified during the interview. Priority will be given to students who are pursuing a first-degree program at SFU at the time of application.

Application Form

Submission Instructions

Submit your completed application by email to the Linguistics Department at lingdept@sfu.ca

Application Deadlines

Applications to the CESL program are accepted three times per year and deadlines are as follows (subject to change if date falls on a weekend): 

Apply by September 30

Apply by January 31

Apply by May 31

Admission Requirements

Before applying to the Certificate Program in Teaching ESL Linguistics, students must have completed:

  • LING 200-3 Foundations of English Grammar
  • LING 220-3 Introduction to Linguistics

Additional requirements: 

  • Completed application form 
  • Other documents as stated in the application form 
  • Must have excellent command of spoken and written English
  • An interview with a designated linguistics department member in order to determine if their goals and interests are suited to the program and if they are likely to succeed in the required courses

If you are a prospective Certificate student and not a current SFU student, please see SFU Undergraduate Admissions for SFU admissions requirements and application.

English language proficiency requirements for this program

4.1.  If English is your native language, you are not required to submit language test scores. Nevertheless, you must attend the required interview.

4.2.  If you are not a native speaker of English, but have completed at least six years of your secondary schooling (i.e., grades 7 to 12) in a school in which the language of instruction is English, you are not required to submit language test scores with your application. However, your language skills will be assessed during the interview. If the interviewer has concerns about your communication skills, you may still be asked to submit the test scores described in section 4.3 below.

4.3.  All applicants not covered under sections 4.1 and 4.2 above are required to achieve a satisfactory score in the following test:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) with a minimum band score of 8 on the speaking test and an overall score of not less than 7.5.

Tests should be completed before your application is submitted and, scores should be sent as early as possible to: Certificate in Teaching ESL Linguistics Program, Department of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive Burnaby, BC CANADA V5A 1S6.

Program Curriculum

The program requires successful completion of 27 units as below. Students must also complete a supervised practicum (LING 363) which includes 25 to 30 hours of experience in an adult ESL classroom.

Lower Division Requirements

Students complete the following 4 courses (12 units):

  • LING 111-3 The Wonder of Words
  • LING 200-3 Foundations of English Grammar
  • LING 220-3 Introduction to Linguistics
  • LING 282W-3 Writing for Linguistics

Plus 2 of the following (6 units):

  • EDUC 220-3 Introduction to Educational Psychology
  • LING 100-3 Communication and Language
  • LING 160-3 Language, Culture and Society
  • LING 301W-3 Linguistics Argumentation
  • LING 309W-3 Sociolinguistics

Upper Division Requirements

Students complete all of:

  • LING 360-3 Introduction to Applied Linguistics
  • LING 362-3 Introduction to Teaching English as a Second Language to Adults
  • LING 363-3 Practicum in Teaching English as a Second Language to Adults

Recommended courses:

  • EDUC 468-4 Sociocultural Perspectives on Language, Cognitive Development and EAL Instruction
  • LING 350-3 First Language Acquisition

NOTE: Credits applied to this certificate may also be applied to major, extended minor, or minor programs, or to a Bachelor degree under the normal regulations governing those programs, but may NOT be applied to another SFU certificate or diploma. Duplicate courses are counted only once.

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Visit our FAQ page for more information on language requirements, the application process, and more.