Program Description

English has become the most widely used language in the world today, particularly in the areas of science, commerce and education. Tens of thousands of students in developing countries are taught English in school. Thousands more study English in order to pursue careers or educational programs demanding English language skills. Refugees and immigrants to the United States desire English to survive and to establish themselves in their new homeland. There is thus a considerable demand for qualified teachers of English both here and abroad.

To help meet the need for trained Christian teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL), the Department of TESOL and Applied Linguistics offers two regular programs in TESOL: a Graduate Certificate in TESOL and an M.A. in TESOL. The programs are academically rigorous; yet focus on the practical aspects of teaching in a variety of settings. The department also seeks to serve teachers desiring to continue their professional advancement or upgrade their qualifications, and non-degree students interested in gaining basic teaching or tutoring skills, by offering a variety of separate courses, from introductory to advanced.

The M.A. in TESOL encompasses the goal of the certificate program plus the additional goal of broader academic training. Teachers are equipped for work in and beyond the classroom in administration, training, course design, etc.

The focus of the TESOL programs is post-secondary and adult education. Those interested in K–12 ESL in U.S. schools should consult with the School of Education.

The M.A. in TESOL is offered both on-campus and online.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Master of Arts in TESOL, students will be able to:

  1. Identify concepts pertaining to the English language system and related theory and practice in language learning and teaching (ULO 1).
  2. Analyze, evaluate, and apply research in English language teaching (ULO 1).
  3. Examine and resolve real-life learning and teaching situations in light of best practices in TESOL (ULO 1).
  4. Recognize the effects of various personal, linguistic, and sociocultural factors on learning processes and formulate pedagogical responses in accordance with biblical and ethical standards (ULO 2).
  5. Devise a plan to be a life-long, global-minded Christian professional language educator (ULO 2).
  6. Search for, select, and/or create lessons, materials, and tasks for effective learning (ULO 3).
  7. Demonstrate the ability to adapt instruction to learner needs and cultural contexts (ULO 3).

Each Program Learning Outcome (PLO) listed above references at least one of the University Learning Outcomes (ULO 1, 2, 3), which may be found in the General Information section of this catalog.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have completed all bachelor's requirements prior to the start of the program and must have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average conferred from a regionally accredited institution prior to the start of the second term. Applicants must submit a written statement outlining their vocational objectives and how the degree will relate to those objectives; a one-page typed letter should be appended to the application. Three letters of reference on forms supplied by Biola are required, as are official transcripts of previous schools attended. Applicants who are non-native English speakers must demonstrate both spoken and written proficiency in English through an oral interview with an admissions counselor or faculty member and through submission of an internationally recognized standardized test of English (taken within the last two years). A TOEFL score of 100 iBT is normally required. The essay score should be at least 5.5. Alternatively, an IELTS score of 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element) is required. 

Foundational Requirements

Students are required to have 3 foundational credits in Bible or Theology as noted below. Students entering the program without the stated foundational credits may take them concurrently with regular program courses, normally completing them by the end of the first year.

Because teachers and applied linguists are expected to have a high degree of competence in written English, all new graduate students, both native and non-native English speakers, are required to take the department's Writing Proficiency Exam. 

Program Requirements

The Graduate Certificate in TESOL requires 3 foundational credits in Bible or Theology and 15 credits of prescribed course work in TESOL, and the Master of Arts in TESOL requires 36 credits. A portfolio is required as a culmination for the Master of Arts in TESOL. 

The Master of Arts program requirements may be reduced by up to 9 credits for students with extensive equivalent undergraduate course work in TESOL (minimum 18 UG credits). For students with appropriate prior graduate course work in TESOL, the minimum number of graduate credits required is at least 27, 24 of which must be taken through Biola University.

Graduation Requirements

Students must successfully complete all required coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to qualify for graduation. No ALT course with a grade less than a "B" (3.0) will be counted for the Master of Arts.

The program is usually completed within two years by full-time students. Part-time students may have up to seven years for the M.A. degrees.

All students must meet with their department advisor and Graduate Graduation Counselor in the Office of the Registrar one year prior to graduation to declare intent to graduate. (See Graduate Graduation Check description in the Admission, Enrollment and Graduation Requirements section).

Curriculum Requirements

Foundational Courses
Program Courses
ISTE 509Structure of English3
ISTE 527Materials Evaluation and Preparation3
ISTE 529English Language Teaching Methods3
ISTE 530Ethics, Values, and Intercultural Communication for TESOL Professionals3
ISTE 614Second Language Acquisition3
ISTE 627Vocabulary Learning and Teaching3
ISTE 632Language Testing and Assessment3
ISTE 692Practicum in TESOL II3
or ISTE 698 Practicum in TESOL III: Reflective Teaching
Elective in Bible/Theology3
Electives in TESOL6
Classroom Research in TESOL
Course Design in TESOL
Technology for Language Learning and Teaching
Teaching Second Language Reading and Writing
Other electives, i.e. courses in Linguistics
Total Credits36