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Teaching ESL – TESOL Certificate

Teaching ESL – TESOL Certificate

NOVA's Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate Program prepares you to teach English as a Second Language to adults by combining language acquisition theory with guided teaching practice from experienced instructors with advanced degrees. NOVA's TESOL Certificate Program meets TESOL International Association's 2015 Standards for Short-Term TEFL/TESL Certificate Programs.

NOVA's TESOL Certificate Program (132 hours) includes:

  • In-person and online teacher training in language acquisition methodologies
  • An ESL teaching practicum with the American Culture & Language Institute
  • Constructive feedback & evaluation on teaching demonstrations
  • Job placement assistance

To earn a TESOL Certificate from NOVA, participants should complete 20 workshops and 10 hours of adult ESL class observation. The program is designed for workshops to be taken in a certain order. 

NOTE: This is not a K-12 ESOL license preparation program. Visit the Virginia Dept. of Education for more information on K-12. Ed2Go workshops are also not part of the TESOL Certificate Program.

In-Person Workshops
Introduction to TESOL
ELT Methodology
English Grammar in ESL
Teaching Speaking & Listening
Teaching Reading & Writing
Teaching Grammar
Lesson Planning
Assessing English Proficiency
Classroom Management
Culture as Course Content
Teaching Pronunciation
Realia as Course Content
Using Technology in ESL
Teaching Entry Level
Tutoring Adult ESL

TESOL Practicum
TESOL Practicum 1
TESOL Practicum 2 (2 days)

Online Workshops
Materials Adaptation
Teaching Vocabulary
TESOL Review

Please visit MyWorkforce to learn about individual workshop prerequisites. The program runs on Saturdays on a semester basis. Completion of the program normally takes one-to-two semesters.

After completing this certificate, you are qualified to teach English as a Second Language to adults in an adult education setting, a community-based program, or a proprietary school in the U.S. or abroad.


  1. All students must be at least 18 years of age.
  2. High school completion (BA/BS preferred to teach in the U.S.)
  3. Proof of English proficiency level via one of the following:
    • A US college diploma including successful completion of ENG 101 or 111.
      *Please check with the TESOL Office to ensure that your college ENG program is accepted by NOVA.
    • Native English Speakers: Take the Virginia Placement Test (VPT) for English. Score must be ENG. ENF scores are not eligible to register.
    • Non-Native English Speakers: Take the Accuplacer Test. Score must be 300 or higher and a Level 5 essay (for provisional acceptance) or Level 6+ essay for full acceptance into the program. Level 4 and lower essays are not eligible to register.

Prior ESL teaching experience is not required.

Unofficial transcripts will be accepted. Email proof documents to TESOL@nvcc.edu.

How to take the VPT English or Accuplacer Placement Test

You must wait a maximum of 24 hours from when you create your student profile (www.nvcc.edu, click on “Apply Now”) to be able to take the test.  Bring your EMPL ID number with you and a photo id to the testing center. NOVA testing centers are located on each campus. You can take placement tests at any campus location. Click here for locations and Times: http://www.nvcc.edu/testing/placement.html   

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the NVCC TESOL Program compare with other TESOL courses?

TESOL International Association recommends that certificate courses be at least 100 hours, include a practicum placement with ESL students, and be taught by qualified instructors. Workforce Development's TESOL Certificate Program meets the standards set out in TESOL International Association's 2015 Standards for Short Term TESL/TEFL Certificate Programs.

Northern Virginia Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC).

I don’t have any experience in the field of TESOL. Is this program suitable for me?
Yes. The TESOL Certificate caters to individuals interested in a career change or seeking to refresh their skills.  If you are interested in teaching and have strong English skills, this program will prepare you to work with adult English Language Learners.  To apply for this program you must have completed high school, although a BA/BA is preferred to teach in the U.S.
When do the classes run?
Most workshops run on Saturday from 9:00am–4:00pm with the exception of the Practicum 2 which runs from Saturday to Sunday and three online classes.
How many hours is this program?

132 hours of instruction + supervised teaching + observation

  • 102 hours of direct instruction
    • 15 in-person workshops
      • Classes are on Saturdays
      • Includes peer-to-peer team teaching
    • 3 on-line workshops
      • Classes can be done at your own pace
      • Includes submitted assignments
  • 30 hour TESOL Practicum 1:
    • 10 hours of ESL classroom observation
    • 10 hours of ESL supervised practice teaching
      • At the American Culture & Language Institute (ACLI) at NOVA or if currently teaching ESL.
    • 10 hr NVCC TESOL Practicum 2 (two-day)
      • Each student completes individual peer-to-peer teaching (evaluated by TESOL faculty)

Most students complete the program in one to two semesters. Students earn 13.2 CEUs (continuing education units).

Do I have to take classes in a certain order?

Students begin the program with the three foundation classes: Introduction to TESOLELT Methodology and English Grammar in ESL.  These classes are required before taking any other classes. To see the schedule, visit MyWorkforce

How do I register for classes?

You can pay and register for blocks of classes or pay and register for the entire program at one time online via MyWorkforce.

  1. Create a profile in our online registration system "MyWorkforce".
  2. TESOL classes are in the "Professional Education & Training" category, "Teaching & Education" subcategory.

You pay for each class at the time you register, and you must pay for a class in full before attending. Students cannot audit Workforce Development classes. Students can pay with Visa, Master Card, and American Express via MyWorkforce. TESOL Certificate classes are not covered by financial aid or the Workforce Financial Assistance grant.

Workforce Development's general refund policy applies to all TESOL courses. For refunds, please email wddrefunds@nvcc.edu. E-mail your request at least 4 calendar days prior to the class session and we will gladly refund your tuition after we receive your written request. Refunds will be issued depending on the form of payment. If you pay with a credit card, the refund will be credited to your card within 10 business days. All other refunds are issued in the form of a check made payable to the student and will be sent from Richmond to your mailing address within 2-4 weeks.

Senior citizens can apply to take three (3) tuition-free classes per semester once they meet this criteria:

  1. Reached the age of 60
  2. Lived in Virginia for one year.
  3. Visited a Workforce Development office in person and completed the Senior Citizen Certification of Eligibility for Free Tuition form.

NOTE: Completing the Senior Citizen Certification of Eligibility for Free Tuition form does not guarantee a place in a TESOL workshop. Students must call the Workforce Development office at the campus where the TESOL workshop is to be held on the Friday before the class between the hours of 2-4pm to determine if space is available and secure their senior registration for the class. Seniors will receive an email confirmation of their tuition-free registration. Tuition-paying students are accommodated before senior citizens are enrolled.

Where can I buy the textbook?
Required Textbook: Teaching Adult ESL, Betsy Parrish Students can special order the textbook from any campus bookstore.  If it isn’t on the shelf, the bookstore can order it for you.
What is the attendance policy?
Students are expected to attend at least 90% of each class session.  That means that students who arrive more than 10% late will need to complete a make-up assignment created and graded by the department. 
How can I find my grades / schedule?
Grades and schedules can be found through “MyWorkforce” and view “My Transcript” or “My Schedule.”