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School of Education
English as a Second Language Education
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School of Education

English as a Second Language Education

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Undergraduate

135 credits

required for program

135 credits

135 credits

required for program

The English as a Second Language education (ESL) degree will prepare you to teach English to children in grades K-12 within a public or private school setting. While laying the foundation for further graduate study.

English as a Second Language education may be the right degree for you if you

  • enjoy working with children
  • are eager to serve
  • passionate about teaching
  • want to help people learn the English language
  • are interested in a career in education

Why study English as a second language education at Northwestern?

At UNW, you'll get equipped to serve the next generation by learning how to break down language barriers. Here you will learn from seasoned teachers who share your faith and enjoy helping others learn.

The School of Education offers you the opportunity to travel to Haiti and China to learn how education is different outside the U.S. You can gain even more experience by participating in our international student teaching program.

Northwestern’s School of Education provides four levels of classroom practicum experience:

  • The first level allows you to find your personal "fit" within the teaching profession.
  • The second focuses on developing theory and skills related to diversity.
  • The third engages you to apply methodologies within your chosen field by creating, teaching, and evaluating lessons in a school classroom.
  • The final level is full-time student teaching in a chosen licensure field.

With additional credits, you can be recommended for dual licensure in ESL (Grades K-12) and elementary education (Grades K-6) with an academic emphasis in communication arts and literature education. The combination of ESL education and elementary licenses work together to support future students, and also have the benefit of adding flexibility to your teaching career.

The School of Education provides teacher education programs approved by the MN Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board and as a result meet the state standards adopted for licensure programs as defined in state Rule 8710.2000 through 8710.8080. All licensure programs are aligned with INTASC (Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium) standards and the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice.

What will I learn?

You will develop effective written and verbal communication skills and be able to teach English to children in grades K-12.


of Northwestern's education graduates felt professionally prepared

Dual Licensure

available for ESL/Elementary Education


of seniors felt their major encouraged critical thinking

Careers in English as a second language education

There are a variety of career and academic pathways that begin with a degree in English as a second language education.

What types of work are related to this degree?

  • Teaching in your area of specialty
  • Private tutoring or nannying
  • Creating/directing educational programs
  • Curriculum development
  • Instructional design (may require additional training in technology)
  • Textbook editing
  • Online education
  • Student life/student affairs
  • Corporate or business training and development or English
  • teaching
  • Children’s ministry
  • English teachers overseas
  • Teacher for US citizenship classes

Who employs people with this degree?

  • Schools of all kinds-public, private, charter, international, government, residential
  • Day care and nursery school
  • Parks and Recreation departments
  • Educational testing companies
  • Curriculum/educational publishers
  • School district offices
  • Educational research firms
  • Industries related to your subject area (e.g., PE majors could work in the areas of fitness, health, or wellness)
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Universities and colleges
  • Employee training programs
View Career Guide
I am an ESL teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). I started the ESL Program at a high school; we received many new students that came from other countries like Somalia, Iraq, Malaysia and Thailand. I am also the only ESL teacher at another high school. I spend my mornings at one school and my afternoons at the other. Half of my students are from Spanish-speaking backgrounds and the other half come from all over the world. There are 22 languages represented in my classroom. I have been teaching for MPS for two years and spent one year teaching in Bulgaria as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant or an ETA.
Emily Herlinger
School of Education - Class of 2015

Preparing for a Career

College graduation rates continue to increase each year making competition for jobs even greater. Set yourself apart from the crowd with the following strategies for getting started, networking, and gaining experience.

Strategies for success:

  • Requirements for certification/licensure vary by state; multiple certifications will increase employability. A master’s degree will increase earning potential.
  • Be willing to work hard at finding a job and to go where the jobs are.
  • Obtain part-time, summer, internship, or volunteer experience with the age group you intend to work with in various settings: pre-schools, daycares, camps, community agencies, adult centers, YMCA’s, etc.
  • Participate in co-curricular activities and related organizations to broaden skills, interests, and opportunities.
  • Identify transferable skills learned in teaching applicable to other careers: written and verbal communication, teaching and instruction, program planning, organization and record keeping, working under pressure and meeting deadlines, motivational skills, creativity, working autonomously, decision-making, problem solving.

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