Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) PgCert (Distance Learning)

This programme is for practising teachers of English as a second or foreign language who wish to continue to develop their professional knowledge and skills, in particular their knowledge of classroom methodology and materials design.

Delivered part-time and by distance learning, the programme allows you to study alongside other commitments. You will be provided with a set of interactive course materials to complete in part-time, self-study mode over a period of 18 months.

Once you have completed the Postgraduate Certificate, you will be eligible to proceed to the MA TESOL by Distance Learning


The programme includes three online modules, two of which are core. You are able to choose from a range of options for the third module which allows you to focus on a specific area of interest.

Your two core modules are:

  • Language Teaching Methodology
  • Syllabus and Materials Design

Your third module will be chosen from a range of options which typically includes:

  • English Language Teaching Management
  • Language Testing
  • Pedagogic Grammar
  • Teaching Languages to Young Learners

For further information, see ‘Modules’ below. Each module will be assessed by a 4,000-word assignment.

Please note: The deadline for applications is one calendar month ahead of your desired entry date, to allow adequate time for your application to be processed; see 'how to apply' below for further details.

Why study this course

  • Flexibility – we have multiple start dates throughout the year so you have the option of choosing when to commence your studies with us. You can study at home, in your own time and at your own pace, so you can combine achieving a qualification with other commitments. Once you complete the course, you also have the opportunity to continue your studies on our MA TESOL by Distance Learning if you wish.
  • Opportunity to attend our summer school – opportunity to attend one of our summer schools in Birmingham, Japan or Korea to learn more about the discipline and meet with academics and other students on the programme.
  • Access to excellent resources – You will have free access to an extensive and growing range of books and journals available through the University's online library. You will also be able to use the 450 million-word Bank of English corpus, the hardware, software and data resources held at the Centre for Corpus Research. You will also be given access to other online resources such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work to help with transitioning to postgraduate studies.
  • Personal tutor – As a distance student you will have your own personal tutor whose job it is to guide and support you through the programme. He or she will be on hand to answer questions regarding the content of your programme and give advice on what to read and on writing your assignments.
  • Excellent reputation – The Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. The distance programmes have been running for more than twenty years and have gained an excellent reputation. The online materials have been developed by experts in the field with a range of research interests and specialisms.


You will study the following core modules

Language Teaching Methodology

This module gives an overview of the development of, and current approaches to, English Language Teaching (ELT) methodology, including the teaching of grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening. The module also includes a practical introduction to classroom-based research. The module will introduce you to a wide range of ideas and allow you to reflect on your own teaching experience. At the same time, in covering such a large area, the module also lays down the groundwork for a number of other modules which you may wish to go onto study.

Syllabus and Materials Design

The module considers the problem of reconciling syllabus and materials design with what is known about the process of language learning and examines the attempts that established approaches to syllabus design have made to solve this problem. The module goes on to propose a more radical solution involving the establishment of a pedagogic corpus, the use of task-based methodology, and the development of analytical exercises.

This is a very practical module designed for practising teachers. It demonstrates that a syllabus is a lot more than simply a list of items at the start of a handbook. The module demonstrates that a syllabus typically reflects: beliefs about language and how language works; beliefs about how we learn, or maybe acquire a language; and the way culture influences teaching and learning situations.

The module introduces you to a variety of different types of syllabus such as the traditional grammatical syllabus, the lexical syllabus, the functional-notional syllabus, and the task-based syllabus. You are encouraged to look at a range of teaching situations and consider how different types of syllabus can be used to meet the needs of different types of language learner. The later parts of the module look at materials development, evaluating material and how to adapt course books so the content is ‘lifted off the page’.

You will also choose one optional module from a range which typically includes:

Pedagogic Grammar

This module covers the main theoretical concepts and research findings underlying the description of the grammar of the English Language and the implication these have for the teaching of grammar in the classroom.

In this module you will consider:

  • Prescriptive and descriptive grammars
  • Research into the benefits of teaching grammar explicitly
  • How the methodologies we employ influence the way we teach grammar
  • How grammar is represented in the language syllabus
  • The debate relating to the use of authentic texts in language teaching
  • The nature of spoken English and how its grammar differs of that of written English

Teaching Languages to Young Learners

This module is designed to introduce you to the various considerations that need to be taken into account when teaching languages to young learners. As well as considering ‘what is a young learner?’ the module content deals with a range of theoretical and practical aspects, including: language in the young learner classroom; teaching grammar and lexis; materials and resources; classroom management; young learner assessment; course-books and syllabus; and teaching young learners with special needs.

The module refers specifically to teaching English to young language learners, but much of the content is also applicable to other contexts where you might be teaching other languages to children.

English Language Teaching Management

This module examines issues of innovation and change in English Language Teaching (ELT) management, including managing change, teacher development and the design and evaluation of teacher training programmes.

It introduces you to the inherent complexity of change and isolates some general characteristics that seem important in all types of change, though their application will vary according to context. This module also looks at strategies of change and the importance of culture in change; it also focusses upon the importance that change has to the survival of an institution. Additionally we consider teacher training (TT) within an educational context, because teachers will be key implementers (or even instigators) of change, so the role of TT in innovation is central.

Language Testing

This module considers the purpose of language testing and aims to provoke some thoughts on the subject of measurement. It will cover the principles of testing, including testing terminology and some elementary statistics in order to equip participants with the critical skills necessary for the evaluation of language tests and, more generally, claims made in research articles based on statistical analysis of data. Topics covered include:

  • What tests are and why we need them?
  • What constitutes a valid and efficient test?
  • Testing the skills of reading and writing
  • Different measures of correlation
  • Understanding and evaluating issues related to testing

Please note that the optional modules listed on the website for this programme are intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

The fee for each 20-credit module for students starting their studies between October 2017 and July 2018 is £1,040.

In order to be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate you will need to successfully complete three modules, at a total cost of £3,120. You pay as you start each module.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

Entry requirements

We usually ask for a good Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, or equivalent professional experience. Consideration will be given to a Certificate in Education from a Teacher Training College (three-year course). Please provide details of any current and/or previous employment in your application; it is always helpful to include a current CV but please complete the relevant sections of the application form as well.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

International applicants will need to satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Please note: This programme is expected to open for applications by the end of May 2017, and the first entry point will be October 2017.

Application deadlines for this programme are as follows – 

Entry point: 1 October 2017 – application deadline 1 September 2017
Entry point: 1 December 2017 - application deadline 1 November 2017
Entry point: 1 February 2018 – application deadline 1 January 2017
Entry point: 1 April 2018 – application deadline 1 March 2018
Entry point: 1 July 2018 – application deadline 1 June 2018

If you have any queries about the application process, please contact the Department at elalpg@contacts.bham.ac.uk   

Our study materials are produced by academic staff in our department and are available online through the University's 'virtual learning environment', Canvas.

They contain aims and objectives, text, audio and video teaching material, reading lists, summaries of readings, activities and commentaries, discussion and reflection tasks, indexes and details of assignments required. On joining you are provided with an online induction pack which includes a course handbook that introduces you to the team, provides details of their roles and expertise and gives all the contact information you will need including email addresses so that if you have any difficulties or questions you will know who to contact for help and guidance.

Although much of the course is delivered through the virtual learning environment, support is always available. You will have a personal tutor to guide you and answer any questions, and you will be able to consult academic staff in Birmingham via Skype.

We also run week-long face-to-face seminars in the summer. These are free, and open to all distance learning Applied Linguistics students.

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

This programme is designed to contribute to your professional development and enhance your career prospects.

Over the past three years, 91% of postgraduate students from the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many of our graduates enter roles, or progress to more senior roles, in fields for which their programme has prepared them, such as teaching, teacher training and lecturing.