ESL teacher helping a student.

Become an ESL Teacher

English as a Second Language (ESL) is perfect for teachers who have a passion for working with K–12 students whose native language is not English.

The Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Master of Arts in English as a Second Language program is a great fit for either established or new teachers. Licensed Minnesota teachers who are seeking to add the Minnesota K–12 ESL license will achieve their professional development and career advancement goals. Adults who have their bachelor’s degree and are seeking a Minnesota teaching license for the first time will earn their licensure while focusing on this specialty.

As with all Saint Mary’s programs, M.A. in ESL courses are taught by top-notch educators who have a wealth of classroom experience to share. Through classroom instruction and collaboration with your peers, you will develop a skill set that will help you better understand languages and cultures and how they impact learning and motivate students in the areas of English reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The entire curriculum is designed to be immediately applied to your classroom and position you as a leader in your school by promoting an educational environment that supports learners of all backgrounds.

Licensure Preparation

Licensure preparation includes a variety of requirements including foundational coursework and field experience/student teaching. 

Foundational Coursework (For Initial Licensure Seekers Only)

Licensure preparation includes one year of foundational coursework pertaining to curriculum design, educational technology, classroom management, instructional techniques, and much more. This coursework lays a solid foundation as you move into the ESL coursework.

Field Experience and Student Teaching

It is critical for you to be able to put theory into practice. Your time in the program includes field experience and student teaching, which ensure that you have practiced your skills under the guidance of a cooperating teacher and university supervisor. Program staff will talk with you further about field experience, student teaching, portfolio, and testing requirements.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the M.A. in ESL, graduates are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Employ a variety of methods, techniques, and program models suitable for second language instruction with diverse learners, including adapting existing materials to meet the needs of the students with limited English proficiency
  • Use various content-based methodologies and integrate language acquisition and use of language functions across learning experiences to facilitate full inclusion of students with limited English proficiency in the school setting
  • Communicate successfully with students, parents, colleagues, and community members
  • Develop communication instruction in the second language context, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing across the curriculum
  • Use formal and informal second language assessment techniques to determine student readiness for and appropriate placement in limited English proficiency programs, and to evaluate student progress
  • Analyze the contributions of general and applied linguistics to second language education
  • Identify the fundamentals of the first and second language acquisition processes and their similarities and differences
  • Interpret how the historical, social, and political aspects of language and cultural patterns in the United States influence second language instruction
  • Integrate an understanding of English as a second language with an understanding of pedagogy, students, learning, classroom management, and professional development

From Start to Finish

  • You can earn your M.A. in ESL degree in two to three years.
  • A cohort model allows for a small team of students to collaborate in convenient locations across the state. Additional online instruction and activities supplement these face-to-face interactions. Cohorts are currently offered in several locations throughout the state.

Apply Now

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. Completed application form with the nonrefundable application fee (fee not required for alumni or students seeking readmission or veterans and active military personnel), and
  2. An official transcript issued to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota from the institution posting the applicant’s completed bachelor degree and other relevant transcripts documenting program prerequisites and potential transfer credits. (An official transcript is one that is sent to the university by the credit-granting institution. Transcripts from countries other than the U.S. must be evaluated by a university accepted evaluation source, such as World Education Services, Educational Credential Evaluators, Educational Perspectives, or One Earth International Credential Evaluators and be deemed equivalent to accredited U.S. university standards).
  3. A reflective essay which includes the following:
    • brief description of the applicant’s background, training, and experience; and
    • statement indicating the career goals of the applicant and his or her reasons for seeking admission to the program; and
    • description of the areas the applicant considers to be his or her strengths and areas in which the applicant wishes to develop greater strengths and abilities; and
    • personal information the applicant wishes to share.
  4. Two letters of recommendation that verify professional and/or volunteer experience and academic ability; and
  5. A current résumé listing educational background and work experience.
  6. Applicants with international transcripts may require an English language proficiency exam (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE or MELAB accepted.)

Please Note: Application materials should be sent to the attention of the Office of Admission on the Twin Cities campus.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Office of Admission
2500 Park Avenue
Minneapolis, MN  55404


This program is offered at our Twin Cities and Rochester locations

Connect With Us

Michelle Dougherty, M.A.

SGPP Admission - Enrollment Counselor Graduate School of Education

LaSalle Hall-TC Campus, LSH112

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5122


Shannon Tanghe, Ph.D.

M.A. in ESL - Program Director

Mother Teresa Hall-TC Campus, MTH108

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5186

Shannon Tanghe Ph.D.
Maura McDonald, M.A.

Graduate School of Education - Program Coordinator

Mother Teresa Hall-TC Campus, MTH105

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4512

Maura McDonald M.A.
Madeline Matthews

M.A. in Teaching - Minneapolis Program Coordinator

Mother Teresa Hall-TC Campus, MTH23

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4562

Madeline Matthews
Omoyefe Agbamu, Ed.D.

M.A. in Teaching - Adjunct Assistant Professor

Jane Anderson, Ph.D.

Lasallian Scholar in Residence, Director, i.t.a. Literacy Project; Director, Remick Fellowship Program; Adjunct Professor

Campus Box: # 23

Jane Anderson Ph.D.
Maria Arabbo, M.A.

ESL Program - Adjunct Instructor

(651) 767-8388

Teresa Chavez, M.A.

ESL, MA Program - Adjunct Instructor

Leticia De la Cruz O'Sheaf, M.A.

ESL Program - Adjunct Instructor

Liisa Gilbert, M.Ed.

M.A. in Teaching - Adjunct Instructor

Jody Koci, M.A.

EDRD K-12 Reading Program - Adjunct Instructor

(952) 496-5861

Fatima Lawson, Ph.D.

ESL Program - Adjunct Assistant Professor

Margaret Marklowitz, M.A.

Education Literacy - Adjunct Instructor

Julie McLaren, M.Ed.

M.A. in Teaching - Adjunct Instructor

(507) 328-4234

Steve Rosas, M.A.

EDRD Program - Adjunct Instructor

Leah Rosini, M.A.

M.A. in Teaching - Adjunct Assistant Professor

Alexi Thompson, M.A.

MA in Literacy Education - Adjunct Instructor

Nina Wendt

ESL Program - Adjunct Instructor

Margaret Westlund, M.A.

Reading Licensure Program - Adjunct Instructor

Angela Yetterboe, M.A.

Education Program - Adjunct Instructor

Samuel Yigzaw, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professor

(651) 645-1000 x 103

Professor smiling with students

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