Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

TESL Frequently Asked Questions


Do students receive help finding employment as ESL teachers?

Yes. We will provide you with the knowledge you need to prepare an ESL teaching resume and guidance in applying for the kind of jobs you are looking for, whether here or abroad. Additionally, we have a career panel at the end of each semester with professional ESL instructors working in a variety of contexts offering advice on how to find work both in Canada and internationally. Our graduates have an impressive record in finding work in rich and varied contexts around the world, and fostering alumni connections are also a critical part of how we help students identify employment opportunities. Past TESL graduates have worked or are working globally in Kamloops and elsewhere in Canada, as well as in locations like Chile, South Korea, Colombia, U.A.E., Japan, China, Vietnam, Poland, Thailand, Indonesia and India, to name a few!  Read student  testimonials to hear about their experiences.

Where can I teach in Canada after this program?

Our graduates have a strong record of finding employment at various schools in Canada, and Languages Canada requires students at schools it recognizes to hold TESL Canada certification. In addition, government funded programs for teaching immigrants and refugees (ELSA) also require TESL Canada certification. In other words, accredited TESL certification opens many doors at bona fide schools and institutions.  For more information on employment opportunities, refer to our Career Opportunities page.

What about overseas teaching opportunities?

Reputable schools internationally require a Bachelor's degree and at least a recognized and accredited TESL certificate for ESL/EFL instructors. The TRU TESL Certificate program, a nationally accredited program, opens a variety of doors in a wide range of contexts and provides you with the confidence to lead and educate effectively and professionally. In other words, this program can help you launch your career internationally!

What are the entrance requirements?

TRU currently admits students to this program on a first-qualified, first-admitted basis. The requirements are:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a recognized university.
  • For non-native speakers of English, please refer to the language proficiency requirements.
  • An informational interview is typically conducted.
  • TRU students with 90 or more credits toward a degree can enroll in the program and while TESL credits may not be used for undergraduate degree requirements, this helps students work toward professional certification while doing their undergraduate studies.

What do the terms TEFL/TESL/TESOL/TEAL mean?

There is little practical difference between the terms. Different colleges/universities may choose to name their ESL teacher education program by any of these terms.

  • TESL = Teaching English as a Second Language. Most commonly used when people are referring to the field of English language education for non-native speakers of English.
  • TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Most commonly used in contexts where English is not the first language (e.g., Japan, China, Russia).
  • TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
  • TEAL = Teaching English as an Additional Language. TEAL and TESOL reflect that for many students, English is not their second language; it is often their third (or fourth, etc.).

How much does the program cost?

The courses are part of the regular Thompson Rivers University credit course offerings, so check the University fee schedule for current program costs. Tuition fees are affordable as this is an established public university.  The approximate cost for the program, including tuition, ancillary fees and books is $2,700.  Please note that fees are subject to change, but this is an approximate cost for the program.

How long is the program?

The program is one semester - (13) weeks long. The program includes 195 hours of coursework and 20 hours of practicum. The full program is typically offered in the fall (September-December) and winter (January-April) semesters. Please note: in 2016-17, the full program will be offered in the Fall 2016 (September-December) and Summer 2017 (May-July) semesters; for Winter 2017 (January-April), TESL 3050 will be offered.

What is the weekly schedule?

The class schedule is designed to allow those working better opportunity and flexibility to enroll. The exception to the schedule is the practicum which varies depending on the practicum placement. We endeavour, where possible, to align the placement with student schedules and preferences.  Most classes meet in the late afternoon after 3:30pm to allow flexibility for those working and for scheduling for students to observe ESL classes at TRU and elsewhere.

Can I work while taking the program?

Working during this intensive program is not recommended for most individuals enrolled full-time. The program involves 20 hours per week of class time and 20 hours over the semester of practicum time. Students will also have plenty of reading and many assignments and projects. A typical student spends 30 to 40 hours per week on reading, assignments, and projects. The coursework is practical and emphasizes bridging of theory and practice.

Can I take the program part time?

Yes, students can enrol in the course part-time and complete over a maximum of 3 semesters.

Who are the TESL instructors?

All TESL instructors at TRU are members of the ESL Department, which is housed in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. All instructors have a minimum of a Masters degree and extensive experience teaching English as a Second Language in Canada and/or abroad as well as facilitating teacher training.

The TESL faculty includes, in alphabetical order:

  • Devon Boucher
  • Brian Bouthillier
  • Jason Brown
  • Alex Church (TESL Co-Coordinator)
  • Karen Densky
  • Joe Dobson
  • Dian Henderson (TESL Co-Coordinator)
  • Jim Hu
  • Wendy Krauza
  • Jane Steiger

The team is also supplemented by skilled sessional faculty members. You can read more about TESL faculty on the ESL Faculty page.

What is the practicum like?

For your teaching practicum, you will observe ESL classrooms for a total of 10 hours. At first you will observe several teachers teaching classes for a range of levels and skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary). Then you will be placed in a classroom either at TRU or in another ESL program.  Student practicum placement is determined after the practicum instructor meets with each student and tries to identify and match student needs and preferences.  You will be observed and mentored by the classroom teacher (sponsor teacher) as you teach their class for 10 hours. It is a rich opportunity for one-on-one mentorship and to develop your skills as an educator and is the highlight of the program for many students.

How do I find a practicum placement?

We will place you in a practicum that we feel fits you, your other qualifications, and your personality.

How do I apply for the program?

  • You can apply in person at the Registrar's Office or do it all online.  Click here for further information.
  • After you have submitted all of the required documentation, if it meets approval, you will be sent a “seat offer.”
  • After you accept the offer and pay your deposit ($500), you will receive orientation information.

Can international students apply?

Yes. We have had many international students successfully complete the program over the years, including students from China, Japan, Bangladesh, Mexico, Chile, Egypt, South Korea and more. Non-native English speaking students must meet the TESL program language proficiency requirements. For non-native speakers of English, please refer to the language proficiency requirements.

What qualifications will the program give me?

Upon successful completion of the program, you will receive a Thompson Rivers University TESL Certificate. It is recognized as a TESL Canada Teacher Training Standard One (interim) program. Upon successful completion of the program, you will be qualified to apply for TESL Canada Professional Certificate: Standard One [Interim]. After you have completed a required number of teaching hours, you will qualify for TESL Canada Professional Certificate: Standard one [Permanent]. See the TESL Canada website for further information on TESL Canada certification.

Does this program qualify me to teach ESL in a BC elementary or high school?

No. This program focuses on teaching English to adult learners. However, many in-service or BC College of Teachers qualified k-12 teachers have taken the program for professional development purposes.

When is the graduation ceremony?

Students who successfully complete all 5 courses in the program, including the practicum, can apply to graduate. For the Fall and Winter Semester cohorts, the graduation ceremony is held in June.

Who do I contact for more information?

Alex Church, TESL Program Coordinator, can be reached by email at tesl@tru.ca or by phone (250-371-5683), or contact Marg Hanna, the ESL Department Program Assistant, at mhanna@tru.ca or by phone (250-371-5728).