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:

  • Lexis
  • Pedagogic Grammar
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Teaching Languages to Young Learners

For further information, see ‘Modules’ below.


Each module will be assessed by a 4,000-word assignment.

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. The University has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study English Language and Literature in the 2018 QS World Rankings.


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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:


The study of lexis is the study of vocabulary in all its different aspects. Vocabulary is typically seen as individual words, whereas lexis is a somewhat wider concept and consists of collocations, phraseology and formulaic expressions.

You will start by considering questions such as; what is a word, what isn’t a word, where does a word stop and a phrase begin? The module also looks at the mental lexicon, how words are stored in the brain and how the mental lexicon works.

The module also covers topics such as: how words are used to label and order things; how culturally specific this area of study can be; the relationship between words and their meaning; the process of word formation; the importance and ubiquity of multiword units, lexicalised sequences and lexical bundles; and the implications that findings of recent corpus based research have for the teaching of lexis.

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

Second Language Acquisition

This module introduces the main theoretical concepts and research findings underlying second language acquisition and the implication these have for classroom practice. It covers some of the key theories regarding how people think languages are learnt and by extension how they are best taught. It explores the ways and the extent to which these theories will apply to the your own and other teaching situations. The later parts of the module consider issues associated with the complex nature of the classroom environment and how that influences learning and also learner characteristics, learning styles and strategies, etc., all of which influence the way in which languages are learnt.

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.

Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is 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.

The fee for each 20-credit module for students starting their studies between October 2018 and July 2019 is £1,080.

In order to be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate you will need to successfully complete three modules, at a total cost of £3,120 (start dates up to July 2018) or £3,240 (start dates October 2018-July 2019).

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.

Learn more about entry requirements

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

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

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

Please note: Deferral requests for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will not normally be permitted for more than one calendar year from the start date originally applied for. 

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

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

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.