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 Summer Intensive TESOL Certificate course is now closed. Please contact us at for information about our upcoming courses!

The TESOL Essentials Series is ideal for those who are:

  • Interested in teaching English throughout the world

  • Considering a career in TESOL

  • Currently teaching or tutoring learners of English

  • Seeking professional development in TESOL

The TESOL Essentials Series includes:

  • a Getting Started module (60 hours)

  • four mini Diving Deeper modules (15 hours each)

  • advising for a teaching practicum at your location of choice (15 hours)

Taken consecutively, the courses in the TESOL Essentials Series yield a 135-hour TESOL Certificate (which exceeds the standards for TESOL Certificates set by the TESOL International Association). However, the Getting Started and Diving Deeper modules can also be taken separately for professional development purposes or for exploration of personal interests in English language teaching.

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 courses

TESOL Essentials: Getting Started

The 60-hour Getting Started course is an entirely online component of the TESOL Certificate 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 eleven-week module (plus one introductory meeting), the course addresses the following topics:

Week 0: Introduction and Q&A session
Week 1: What is TESOL?
Week 2: What does it mean to know a language?
Week 3: What should we teach?
Week 4: How should we teach?
Week 5: How do we know what students know?
Week 6: How do we design good, effective, engaging English lessons?
Week 7: What is it like to teach? (Part 1)
Week 8: What's in a lesson?
Week 9: What is it like to teach? (Part 2)
Week 10: What does a job in TESOL look like?
Week 11: What’s next? (Starting your TESOL career)

In addressing these topics, we complement lectured material with course readings, teaching demonstrations, facilitated discussions, guest lectures, and group work. Through participation in synchronous online video sessions (90 minutes per week), as well as via independent reading and group discussions (three to four hours per week), you will learn essential skills for teaching English in domestic and international contexts.

TESOL Essentials: Diving Deeper

The Diving Deeper mini-courses (15 hours each) offer short but impactful explorations of specific topics in the field of English language teaching. These modules, which are entirely online, can earn current teachers professional development credit (e.g., Act 48 in Pennsylvania) when taken individually or as a set. For those who have taken the Getting Started course, the Diving Deeper courses can be rolled together into a package in order to complete the requirements of the TESOL Certificate.

We are offering four Diving Deeper courses in 2020. The topics include:

Diving Deeper #1: Teaching Speaking, Listening, and Pronunciation
Diving Deeper #2: Teaching Second Language Writing and Literacy
Diving Deeper #3: Leveraging the L1 in the ESOL Classroom
Diving Deeper #4: Content-Based Instruction and other Contemporary Teaching Approaches

Each mini-course is three weeks long, and follows the same format as the Getting Started course: synchronous online video sessions (90 minutes per week) are complemented with independent reading and group discussions (three to four hours per week). These courses are entirely online.

TESOL Essentials Series: Teaching Practicum*

An essential requirement of any TESOL Certificate course is a teaching practicum. Upon completion of the Getting Started and Diving Deeper courses, students pursuing the TESOL Certificate credential will choose a teaching site where they will complete 15 hours of teaching practice under the guidance of their TESOL Essentials Instructor and their on-site supervisor. The completion of this requirement will be attested via:

  • The submission of a teaching log signed by the on-site supervisor
  • The satisfactory and timely completion of two 15-minute teaching videos, with accompanying lesson plans and teaching reflections.

*The Teaching Practicum is available only to those who have completed all of the Getting Started and Diving Deeper courses.

The Complete TESOL Certificate

The TESOL Certificate will be awarded to those who successfully complete the Getting Started module, the four Diving Deeper modules, and the teaching practicum. See below about how to register for one or all of these offerings.


Registration for 2020 Session

Each online course is limited to fifteen participants. Registration will be accepted on a rolling basis until the registration deadline, or until the courses are filled. Applicants applying after the course is full will be wait-listed.

Important course dates:

  • Getting Started dates: week of January 13, 2020 to week of April 6, 2020 (Registration closed)
  • Diving Deeper dates: week of April 20, 2020 to week of July 6, 2020
  • Practicum requirements due: October 30, 2020
  • Certificates mailed: December 1, 2020

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


Getting Started course:

Registration for this course is currently closed. Please contact for information about upcoming course offerings.

Diving Deeper courses:

Registration for this course is currently closed. Please contact for information about upcoming course offerings.

Registration for Intensive 135-hour TESOL Certificate course:

Registration deadline: May 1, 2020

Late registration deadline: May 15, 2020 (Registration now closed)

Course dates and times:

  • Days for Synchronous Meetings: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Times for Synchronous Meetings: 7-8:30am EST / 1-2:30pm CET / 8-9:30pm China
  • Weekly time commitment: 15 hours

Course Fee: $2,400 (including Getting Started, Diving Deeper series, and teaching practicum)
Late fee: $75

 Our Team

Director & Instructor of the TESOL Essentials Series

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, and Academic Writing. She has been facilitating the TESOL Workshop since 2017, and has also led professional development workshops for English teachers in Italian secondary schools and for international teaching assistants in the United States.







Kate Tomaskovic is currently an ESL instructor at the University of Delaware’s English Language Institute. She primarily teaches within the Academic Transitions Program instructing courses on the foundations of academic writing for pre-matriculated international students, and in special programs for international teacher training with partnerships such as Panama Bilingue and Brazil’s PDPI. Having started teaching English in 2009, she received her CELTA certification in 2010 and holds a M.S.Ed in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education where she has also been instructing the methodology practicum since 2014.

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 taking TESOL Essentials: Getting Started?

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 two weeks of the Getting Started 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. However, there is a wide variety of training for which one receives 'certificates'. The Getting Started module or the Diving Deeper modules, which provide between 15 and 60 hours of training, may be a good fit for the type of learning experience you are looking for.

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