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MA Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (MA in TESL) at Webster University is designed for individuals who seek to develop the English skills of non-native speakers living in the United States or internationally. The program allows candidates to develop a solid theoretical background in critical aspects such as culture, language structure, first and second language acquisition theory, curriculum and materials development, teaching methodology, assessment and research, while preparing them to become effective language teachers. Candidates may choose to complete their TESL program on the St. Louis Home Campus, at the Kansas City Metropolitan Campus, or complete the program online from anywhere in the world. The MA in TESL has been approved to be offered at the Bangkok, Thailand Campus starting in January 2018.  The MA TESL degree requires satisfactory completion of 11 courses (33 credit hours).  

Program Goals

The Master of Arts (MA) in Teaching English as a Second Language embraces Webster University’s mission to "transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence" through the School of Education goals and dispositions. The following program goals are built on a conceptual framework of knowledge, implementation, and reflection. Candidates will demonstrate knowledge of:

  • the English language system and its components (i.e., phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, etc.) and issues of linguistic variation (i.e., dialects, discourse, slang, humor, etc.);
  • the major theories, key concepts, and research in first and second language acquisition (SLA);
  • modern and traditional teaching approaches, as well as the legal processes and policies that have influenced the English as a Second Language field;
  • multicultural aspects and personal variables (i.e., background experiences, values, beliefs, gender) that affect the process of language acquisition and cultural integration;
  • effective learning and communications strategies;
  • curriculum design and appropriate materials and textbooks; and
  • current and historical aspects of assessment design and implementation, as well as their implication for various stakeholders.


Candidates will practice in their classroom:

  • various standards-based instructional strategies to support effective educational practices that value individual and cultural differences;
  • standards-based curriculum designed on modern teaching theories and meaningful, authentic content, and language materials (i.e., experiences that model social and academic contexts by integrating all language skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing);
  • multiple culturally-informed, valid, reliable, authentic, pragmatic, and non-biased assessment techniques that measure learning progress and teacher/program/content effectiveness; and
  • technology-centered activities that promote content and language learning, following a constructivist model that allows ample language input and practice.


Candidates will reflect on:

  • the roles educators take in collaboration with colleagues, school administrators, paraprofessionals, parents, and community members to advocate for the needs of their community of learners and their direct access to resources;
  • personal growth through on-going participation in personal development activities;
  • effectiveness of instructional and assessment approaches in the classroom with the view of achieving equitable education for their ELL students;
  • curriculum appropriateness in compliance with national and regional standards, as well as program expectations and diverse student needs, preparedness, resources, and ability; and
  • the need to support and encourage ESOL students and families in their journey of social, cultural, and linguistic accommodation.

MA TESL Program Structure » 

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