The TESOL major prepares you to teach English to speakers of other languages in grades Pre-K through 12.

English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers are in high demand nationally and internationally, and graduates of Houghton’s TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program have an excellent track record of finding employment, both in the United States and abroad.

Starting in your first year, you will have ample opportunities to interact on a regular basis with children and youth who have recently arrived in the United States. During your sophomore and junior years, when students take the bulk of their coursework in both the major and the required concentration in culture, language and linguistics, you will also complete a minimum of 100 hours of field experience under the supervision of a certified ESL teacher. During your senior year, you will spend a semester student teaching, divided between an elementary ESL and a secondary ESL placement. In addition, TESOL students must show 12 credits of earned foreign language credit in one foreign language. This is the TESOL route that leads to teacher certification.

There are many ways to study TESOL/linguistics at Houghton, so it is important to know what your goals are for pursuing TESOL studies. Please refer to this document to guide you toward the particular approach to TESOL that is best suited to your interests. http://www.houghton.edu/am-site/media/tesol-pathways.pdf

Why Major in TESOL?

  • Be equipped for transformative learning and service.
  • Collect at least 100 hours of contact time prior to student teaching.
  • Practice what you’ve learned in the college classroom through abundant opportunities to be in area classrooms observing, doing service-learning, and so on in the first and second years.
  • Experience teaching in an inner-city setting during a two-week site experience in Buffalo, NY, called Teaching in Urban America.
  • Receive intentional, personalized academic advising and mentoring by education faculty across your entire Houghton experience.
  • Dedicate one full semester to student teaching during your senior year.
  • Do collaborative research with teacher education program faculty members, and present your findings at international, national and regional conferences.

Major Requirements

TESOL major (BS)


Experiential Learning

  • Math, Division, Literacy Days: Groups of students come to campus, and Houghton students are in charge of setting this up.
  • Many current students participate in summer AmeriCorps opportunities in Buffalo where they work with English Language Learners in summer programs such as JumpStart.
  • Local placements and Buffalo-area placements are available, or you can apply to do a portion of your student teaching overseas.
  • During the Junior Practicum, students get connected to a teacher or group of teachers for the entire year.
  • Choose from a wide variety of service learning opportunities—from working with small groups in after-school programs or collaborating with local teachers for various learning opportunities to volunteering at Journey’s End Tutoring in Buffalo or Reading Club at King Center Charter School (Buffalo), tutoring in local schools, or participating in Allegany County Outreach.

Intentional Mentoring by Houghton Faculty

At Houghton, your education professors serve as mentors throughout your coursework and fieldwork. This mentoring relationship begins through classroom discussions; develops further through advising sessions, feedback on assignments and lesson observations; and remains strong and available even after graduation. We don’t adjunct field experiences (i.e., practicum, student teaching); each student receives careful placement and personal oversight by full-time education faculty who know them very well.

Inner City Immersion Experience for All Students

Education students can experience teaching in an inner-city setting during a two-week site experience in Buffalo, NY, called Teaching in Urban America. The students have the opportunity to observe and engage in a more diverse classroom setting; discuss culture, poverty, privilege and race and their relationships with education; engage in a service-learning project in the community; and explore the city of Buffalo.

New York State Teacher Certification

Students completing adolescence education, inclusive adolescence education, inclusive childhood education, music education or TESOL majors may apply for an Initial Teaching Certificate from New York State. In addition to completing the requirements for the major, applicants for New York State teacher certification must complete the required New York State Teacher Certification Examinations appropriate to the desired teaching certificate(s).