Thinking of Starting a Career Teaching English?

Thinking of Starting a Career Teaching English?

by Christine Knorr, Academic Director at Washington Academy of Languages

The TESOL program at City University of Seattle is ideal for professionals looking to teach English. It provides students a hands-on learning experience designed to bridge theory and practice. Students gain knowledge in language acquisition, development and linguistics, paying particular attention to classroom application.

In many cases, teaching English abroad appeals to new college graduates or to those who are between jobs looking for an adventure before committing to a career path. Teaching English has also fascinated the more mature and experienced professional wishing to start a second career or those who wish to make a career change altogether. Regardless of where these students are in their career, they want to make a difference in another part of the world by teaching English or they want to support students in the U.S. who need to improve their English skills to survive and thrive in the workplace. The opportunities for teaching English are plenty and there are several opportunities for all types of individuals to support students in this special way — around the world and in the U.S.

This program is available in multiple formats. The TESOL Certificate Program is developing beyond the online modality and will be offered at an intensive in-class format at CityU’s Seattle location or abroad.

This summer, WAL is offering its first 5-week intensive graduate level TESOL Certificate Program at Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) in Mexico. In addition to their coursework, students will have the unique opportunity to participate in English language classes and receive first-hand exposure to the challenges and rigors of English language learning. They can also look forward to studying in a historically rich environment surrounded by colonial Mexican culture. Upon successful completion of this TESOL certification, WAL students will have the exclusive option of applying for English Assistant positions at two private high schools directly affiliated with UPAEP.

With many different options available, let’s take a closer look at the program with Christine Knorr, the Academic Director.Christine Knorr headshot

  1. What credentials are needed to pursue a career in TESL?

This would depend on several factors.  In most instances, whether teaching in the U.S. or abroad, a bachelor’s degree with a TESL/TEFL certificate is required. Below is a comparative overview that summarizes a candidate’s general required qualifications for both U.S. and schools abroad (as of 2015):

Type of Teaching Assignment Student Population Abroad US Credentials needed
Language school/institute Adults



x Bachelor’s degree + TEFL/TESL Certificate
Missionary/NGO Adults



x Bachelor’s degree + TEFL/TESL Certificate
University Young adults x MIT/M.Ed


Business/Corporate Adult professionals x Bachelor’s degree + TEFL/TESL Certificate
Public school HS


x MIT/M.Ed

or BA + ESL endorsement


Community College Adults/international students x MIT/M.Ed

Bachelor’s degree + Graduate level TEFL/TESL Certificate

Intensive English Language School Program Adults


x Bachelor’s degree + TEFL/TESL Certificate or MIT/M.Ed


Adult Basic Education/Community College Adults x MIT/M.Ed


  1. If I were to choose the 5-week intensive in Mexico over the online format, what would be the benefits? Drawbacks?

Time and cost are the two main considerations. Taking online courses, a student could earn his or her certificate within 3 quarters for the same cost in tuition as the intensive format. If students are not in a hurry to receive their credentials, and would like to save on the extra cost of travel and housing, online is the obvious choice.  On the other hand, if a student wishes to have a more international, hands-on experience from both a teaching and learning perspective, studying in Mexico could be more satisfying.  Students will have the option of either staying on campus dorms or in a home stay, eat the local food, and observe English classes in a safe and structured environment.

  1. Could you tell me more about teaching opportunities once I’ve successfully completed the 5-week TESOL Certificate in Mexico?

City University of Seattle is partnered with UPAEP, which is located in Puebla and Mexico City.  Both have high schools that are directly linked to the university.  In Puebla, the high school is bilingual and the students follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum in English.  Both high schools would welcome CityU’s TESOL graduates as English assistants in classroom as well as tutors.  This would be an ideal situation for someone new to teaching.

  1. Would my WAL TESOL Certificate courses and credits transfer to a Master of Arts in Adult Learning at City University of Seattle?

Yes, four of the five City University of Seattle TESOL courses will transfer toward an MA in Adult Learning.  These courses comprise one-fourth of the total degree requirement!

  1. Can you give us some background on our partner university in Puebla?

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Puebla in October and was very impressed! The campus offers a fully equipped computer center, library center, conference room, language center, cafeteria, film center, gymnasium, outdoor pool, and other sports facilities. UPAEP is known for both its basketball and soccer teams, and students also participate actively in dance, theater, debate, and photography, among many other activities.

Interestingly, like City University of Seattle, the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), was founded in 1973 and is private. It is located in the heart of central Mexico in the city of Puebla. Just 70 (127 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City, Puebla is the fourth largest metropolitan area in Mexico with a population of nearly two million people. It boasts a UNESCO World Heritage site, Experience Puebla’s cultural and historic downtown, with 20 square blocks of historic buildings and colonial Spanish architecture.

UPAEPUPAEP has students from several different states in Mexico as well as international students. It offers six fields of study, Art, Business, Health Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Science and Engineering, with more than 42 major disciplines. In addition, UPAEP offers several international exchange programs, service learning opportunities, and Spanish immersion programs.  Currently, there are over 50 students enrolled in CityU’s undergraduate, MBA, and doctoral degree programs at this university.

For those not familiar with inland Mexico, Puebla has an average temperature between 59 °F/15 °C and 72 °F/22 °C. With scenic natural landscapes and a rich colonial history, the city of Puebla is a place ideally suited for both a dynamic education and an enriching cultural experience.

To read more about our TESOL program please visit our website here.


Published December 22, 2015



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