The Certificate in Teaching English Language Learners is designed to help you gain the skills necessary to teach English Language Learners at a variety of levels.  It is built to serve those who want to teach in multilingual public and private schools in America as well as those who plan to teach English overseas. This certificate also serves the needs of international students wanting to teach English in their home country or other countries.

To meet the increasing needs of individuals seeking advanced training in teaching English as a second language. The program, which can be completed through CU Online, is designed to build the necessary skills to teach adults English as a second language. It is primarily aimed at native speakers of English who want to teach overseas but may serve the needs of international students wanting to teach English in their home country or other countries. Opportunities exist for internships at CU Denver’s International College of Beijing (ICB) and other language schools.

Upon successful completion of the program, CTELL participants will be able to:

  • discuss the theoretical basis of second language instruction
  • demonstrate a variety of effective ESL teaching techniques
  • explain, in pedagogically relevant ways, the linguistic structures of the English language

Program Learning Goals


The curriculum consists of 12 credit hours (nine credit hours of required courses and three credit hours of electives). The required courses must be taken at CU Denver.

Required Courses (9 credit hours)

  • ENGL 5171 Language Theory 
  • ENGL 5601 Principles and Practices of Second Language Acquisition 
  • ENGL 5651 Second Language Writing 

Electives (Choose one of the following)

  • ENGL 5093 Teaching of Writing 
  • An alternative elective such as a special topic course (i.e., ENGL 5190 Advanced Topics in Writing and Digital Studies), approved by the program advisor
  • An internship (ENGL 5939 Internship), approved by the program advisor 

Length of Time

The course of study will typically last one academic year, including the summer session.

When can I start?

You may begin in any semester. There is no fixed deadline for application for admission.


All applicants must have a bachelor's degree or the equivalent to be accepted to the program. Graduate students at CU Denver will also be permitted to apply for the certificate while they are concurrently completing another graduate degree. Permission may not be granted to graduate students in Applied Linguistics.

Non-native speakers of English are required to submit an official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) report showing a score of at least 600. Those who score below 600 but above 500 on the TOEFL may be admitted conditionally to the program. Under these conditions, students will have their English language skills assessed by the faculty of the program immediately after they arrive on campus to determine whether further courses are needed to develop English language proficiency. After assessment, the students may be assigned to full-time language study in an intensive English program, permitted to take graduate-level classes on a conditional basis along with further designated language study or permitted to begin graduate study without further restrictions.

Requirements for receiving the certificate

A GPA of 3.0 or better and a minimum grade of B- or better is required for all graduate courses applying toward the certificate.

Additional information

Additional information about the Graduate Certificate in English as a Second Language (CTELL) may be obtained from:
Joanne Addison, Professor
Office: 1051 Ninth Street Park, Room 104
Phone: 303-315-7845