Interested in teaching or tutoring English? Considering a career in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages?

The TESOL Essentials Series is open to anyone interested in the world of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), regardless of language background or prior teaching experience. All that is required is a healthy interest in learning something new and in expanding your professional horizons.

Our 135-hour TESOL Certificate is 100% online/remote. We welcome students from around the world.

Registration for our Winter Intensive TESOL Certificate course is now open! Please contact us at if you have any questions prior to registering.

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The TESOL Essentials Series includes:

  • The 135-hour TESOL Certificate
    • 8 weeks of coursework via Zoom (120 hours), including:
      • an introduction to the field of TESOL
      • the theoretical underpinnings of language pedagogy
      • practical skills for teaching English as an additional language
      • peer and teacher feedback on teaching demonstrations
    • A 15-hour teaching practicum at a site of your choice, with ongoing advising by your course instructor.
  • Private courses in TESOL Essentials for groups of teachers and educational organizations
    • Custom courses for educational organizations can be designed in collaboration with Penn GSE faculty according to the organization's needs. Please contact us at gse-tes@gse.upenn.edufor more information and for a quote.

The TESOL Essentials Series is sponsored by the Educational Linguistics (ELX) Division at Penn GSE and Catalyst @ Penn GSE.

* TESOL Master's Students should NOT register. Please visit our TESOL M.S.Ed. program if you are interested in earning a master's degree in TESOL.

Questions?  Contact us at for more information. 

About the TESOL Certificate

The 135-hour TESOL Certificate course is an entirely online course offered by Penn GSE. It provides an overview of practice and theory related to English language education, offering practical experience as well as general background knowledge in the fields of second language development and English language teaching. 

Over the course of the 24 modules, we introduce you to the field of TESOL, giving you research-driven and practical support for teaching language form and function, teaching for communication, planning objective-oriented lessons, teaching productive and receptive skills, adapting your teaching for student needs, and preparing you for entry into the TESOL job market. Practical application of coursework topics will take place via teaching demonstrations and in the practicum.

The teaching practicum is an essential requirement of any TESOL Certificate course. Upon completion of the coursework, student-teachers will complete 15 hours of teaching practice under the guidance of their TESOL Certificate instructor and their on-site supervisor. The completion of this requirement will be attested via the satisfactory and timely completion of:

  • a one-hour observation of an ESOL colleague
  • two 15-minute teaching videos with accompanying lesson plans and teaching reflections
  • a weekly journal
  • the submission of a teaching log, signed by an on-site supervisor, attesting to 14 hours of teaching by the student-teacher

 Registration for 2021 TESOL Certificate Sessions

Each section is limited to twelve participants. Registration for 2021 sessions will be accepted on a rolling basis until the deadline or until the course is full. Applicants applying after the course is full will be wait-listed.

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Important course dates and information:

  • Winter Session 2021
    • Registration Deadline: December 18, 2020
    • Coursework: January 11 - March 5, 2021
      • Morning section: Synchronous Zoom meetings on MWF 7:00am-8:30am EST
      • Evening section: Synchronous Zoom meetings on MWF 7:00pm-8:30pm EST
    • Practicum: March 6 - June 18, 2021
    • Certificates mailed: June 30, 2021
  • Summer Session 2021
    • Registration Deadline: May 14, 2021
    • Coursework: June 21 - August 13, 2021
      • Morning section: Synchronous Zoom meetings MWF 7:00am-8:30am EST
      • Evening section: Synchronous Zoom meetings MWF 7:00pm-8:30pm EST
    • Practicum: August 14 - December 3, 2021
    • Certificates mailed: December 17, 2021
  • General Information
    • The weekly time commitment for the TESOL Certificate coursework is approximately 15 hours per week
    • Course fee: $2,400 (late fee $75)

For a full calendar of course dates, please email us at

 Our Team

Director & Instructor 

Andrea Leone-Pizzighella

Andrea Leone-Pizzighella holds a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics and an M.S.Ed. in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania. Since she began teaching English in 2008, she has taught Italian and ESOL courses in high schools, universities, and adult education contexts in both the United States and Italy. She has been an instructor and teaching assistant in online and traditional courses at the university level, covering such topics as Classroom Discourse and Interaction, Sociolinguistics in Education, Educational Linguistics, Academic Writing, and teacher training programs for International Teaching Assistants. She has been involved in the TESOL Essentials Series since 2017 and has continued to grow the program and build teacher-training partnerships throughout the United States and the world through a network of amazing new ESOL teachers!



Hannah Brenneman

Hannah Brenneman received her M.S.Ed. in TESOL from Penn GSE in 2015, where she was the recipient of the 2015 William E. Arnold Award and the 2015 TESOL Spirit Award. Since graduating, Hannah has held academic teaching positions at Penn GSE and Penn English Language Programs, as well as teacher training and mentoring positions in Penn GSE’s Educational Linguistics Division and at PEDAL@GSE, Penn GSE's in-house teacher training program. Hannah has taught ESL and EFL in a variety of domestic and international contexts since 2013. From 2017-2018, Hannah served as an English Language Fellow for the U.S. Department of State in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, where she taught EFL to first- and second-year undergraduate students and trained pre-service EFL teachers. She is very excited to work with new teachers-in-training via the TESOL Essentials Series!


Graduate Assistant

Huimin Tang

Huimin Tang is currently in the TESOL M.S.Ed. program at the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Indiana University Bloomington where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Language Arts concentration. She has taught in various classroom settings including co-teaching in elementary classrooms as well as tutoring English language learners. Her teaching experience in China and the U.S. has molded her beliefs in equity, celebrating diversity, and developing cultural awareness.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of this course?

The TESOL Essentials Series offers comprehensive preparation for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). It is designed to provide participants with an overview of key topics in the field of TESOL, a solid foundation in key teaching methods and issues, and first-hand experience with basic pedagogical skills needed to begin working effectively with English language learners in in the US and abroad.

What makes this program different from the other TESOL Certificate programs out there?

Believe it or not, we are the only TESOL Certificate program that is both entirely online and that offers real-time instruction and small class sizes. We designed the course this way to offer the opportunity for meaningful and collegial exchange to novice and aspiring ESOL teachers from around the world. We feel it is important for teachers to feel part of a community that can support them. In our virtual classroom, you can raise your hand and ask questions, you can see the expressions on your classmates’ faces, and you can participate in group discussions, just like you would in an actual classroom. Our use of videoconferencing makes the online learning experience more welcoming and inclusive than many other online courses might be.

Will I be able to get a job right after completing the TESOL Certificate?

Jobs are available around the world for people with all levels of training. There are jobs you can obtain right after taking the course and others that would require additional training. We do not offer any job placement; however, we devote a week of the course to the discussion of training and employment. During these lessons, TESOL professionals will join us as guest lecturers to share their experiences with you, and we will take a look at job boards together so that you feel more prepared to begin the job search on your own.

Will the certificate be accepted by employers?

Employers vary greatly in the expectations that they have about training and experience. Some employers require little training or teaching experience while others may demand higher levels of training and greater teaching experience. The 135-hour TESOL Certificate you will receive upon meeting the course completion requirements for the TESOL Essentials Series will indicate that you have completed the amount of training recommended by the TESOL International Association. If you plan to use this training to obtain a specific job, it is advisable to check with potential employers to find out if this is the level of training they expect from job candidates.

Will I be certified to teach in other countries at the end of this course?

There is no standard international certification for teaching English abroad, but the TESOL International Association sets a recommended minimum at 120 hours of training, including at least ten hours of teaching practicum. Our program meets and exceeds those requirements, offering 120 hours of instruction and 15 hours of teaching practicum. 

Will I be certified to teach ESL in public schools at the end of this course?

Teacher certification varies from state to state. It usually requires substantial coursework at the university level in addition to at least a bachelor's degree. This course does not lead to US teacher certification, though the training you receive in the workshop would certainly help you work effectively with English language learners of all ages (including K-12). Penn does offer a course of study for certified teachers who wish to obtain the ESL specialist credential. Current teachers who wish to gain more insight into working with English language learners are welcome to participate in the courses offered in the TESOL Essentials Series, though these courses alone are not equivalent to the ESL specialist credential.

Can I teach in the US?

There are a number of private organizations (community centers, human resource departments, church groups, immigration support services, etc.) in the US which cater mostly to adult language learners. Like private teaching institutions abroad, these organizations have varying expectations about training and experience. There are job (and volunteer) opportunities in such organizations for people with different levels of training.

Contact Us

 If you have any questions, please contact the TESOL Essentials Series program team by e-mail at