TESOL Program

Two Female Students Laughing

What is TESOL?


TESOL stands for " Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages." It is the accepted cover term both for "Teaching English as a Foreign Language" (TEFL), as occurs in countries where English is not the medium of communication such as Japan, and for "Teaching English as a Second Language" (TESL), as occurs in places like the United States, where immigrants learn the language of currency. Historically, in the United States TESOL has its roots in the discipline of linguistics and is considered an area of "applied linguistics." This is also true at San Jose State, though TESOL programs can also be found housed in other academic departments, frequently English or Education.

For more information on the field of TESOL, please visit the web pages of the international professional organization, TESOL, and the State affiliate, CATESOL.

Academic Degrees and Certificates in TESOL at SJSU

More Information on the MA TESOL

It is possible to work on Master's degrees simultaneously in both our MA TESOL and Linguistics programs; some course work may be applied to both. Interested students should contact the coordinators of both programs, early in their studies, for more information and degree planning.

A Brief History and Description of the TESOL Program

Courses in TESOL have been offered at SJSU since the 1950s, first through an interdisciplinary major in Linguistics and then from 1970 through a degree program in Linguistics. In 1991, with the formation of the Department of Linguistics and Language Development, a separate MA TESOL was established. The department also offers both an undergraduate and a graduate certificate in TESOL and a BA and an MA in Linguistics. In the past, the department has offered a single subject preparation program.

Graduates of the MA TESOL program teach in intensive English programs and ESL in community colleges, adult education programs, and four year universities in the U.S. Many go to teach EFL in institutions of higher education abroad. A number of them find employment teaching and designing curricula in English for Specific Purposes in Silicon Valley. Some go on to complete Ph.D. programs in applied linguistics and related programs at other universities.I

For more information about these programs, please visit the Degrees and certificates page of this web site. The coordinator of the TESOL programs is Dr. Scott Phillabaum. For a more detailed history of the programs in the Department, see the web pages of the LLD Alumni Association.