Frequently Asked Questions

About TESL Ontario Question 1
Language Instructor Accreditation Questions 2 - 14
Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) Questions 15 - 18
Accreditation Reinstatement Question 19
Required Theory, Methodology and Practicum Courses Questions 20 - 21
Professional Development (PD) Questions 22 - 25
General Questions Questions 26 - 28

About TESL Ontario

1.    What is TESL Ontario?
TESL Ontario, established in 1972, is a non-profit organization serving the needs of teachers of English as a Second Language. It represents more than 4,600 language training professionals and is instrumental in influencing the success of many thousands of English language learners throughout the province. TESL Ontario’s expertise is in teaching, advocacy, accreditation, and professional development.

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Language Instructor Accreditation

2.  Why do I need the TESL Ontario Language Instructor Certificate?
This certificate has been designed for individuals interested in teaching in adult ESL programs in Ontario, other Canadian provinces, and other countries. This includes a wide range of programs including:

  • Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
  • Adult ESL- offered by school boards
  • Citizenship and Language (CL)
  • Specialized Language Training (SLT)
  • Enhanced Language Training (ELT)
  • Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT)
  • English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and ESL offered by colleges, universities, and private schools
  • English Language Proficiency (ELP) Test Preparation (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)
  • English as a Foreign Language (EFL)

The TESL Ontario Language Instructor Certificate has become the industry norm in Ontario. TESL Ontario accredited instructors are being hired by a wide range of employers in both publicly-funded and privately-funded sectors including:

  • School Boards
  • Settlement /Immigrant Service Agencies
  • Welcome Centres
  • Community Colleges
  • Universities
  • Private Career Colleges
  • Private Language Schools
  • International Language Schools

3.   What benefits do accredited TESL Ontario members bring to employers and learners?
TESL Ontario accredited instructors

  • have distinct knowledge and skills specific to teaching adult ESL;
  • belong to a community of highly educated, responsible and committed professionals who seek to further the best interests of the learners;
  • strive for excellence through academic inquiry, self-reflection, openness to new ideas and ongoing professional development; and
  • are qualified to teach in a variety of settings both in Canada and internationally.

4.    I do not have a university degree. Do I still qualify for the TESL Ontario Language Instructor Accreditation?
No. TESL Ontario considers a (minimum three-year) bachelor’s degree as an indispensable component of the overall training, general and specialized, that a teacher (of any subject matter or at any level) needs to have gone through. Therefore, TESL Ontario emphasizes that this is the minimum level of university education that an applicant is required to have completed to qualify for the TESL Ontario Language Instructor Accreditation application and to teach as an accredited language instructor.

5.    I have obtained my degree from a university located in the USA/ the U. K. /Australia. Do I still need to submit a Canadian equivalency report?
Yes. If your degree is from a university located outside Canada, you are required to have it evaluated by one of the equivalency offices listed on TESL Ontario's website at http://www.teslontario.net/accreditation/languageinstructor

6.    Can I submit a graduation confirmation letter from my university in lieu of my degree or degree transcript with my Language Instructor Accreditation application?
No. Graduation confirmation letters and the like cannot be accepted in lieu of a degree, a degree transcript, or a degree equivalency report.

7.   I have a Bachelor’s degree from an Ontario college.  Is this acceptable as proof of a University Degree?
As long as a degree is from an accredited institution that is located in Canada and it is a minimum of three years full time, it would be recognized by TESL Ontario for the degree requirement.  

8.  I used some transfer credits from another institution (college or university) in order to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Canada.  Is my degree still acceptable proof of a University Degree?
If the degree is for a program that is a minimum of three years full time, it would be recognized by TESL Ontario for the degree requirement, regardless of how many credits were taken at the university that conferred the degree.

9.    I took more than one degree program with English as the language of instruction from countries that are listed on the TESL Ontario website.  Combined, these programs were at least three year years in total.  Can I use the degrees as proof of English Language Proficiency?
In order to use a degree program as proof of ELP, one single program must be a minimum of three years full time and taken on-site with English as the language of instruction from a country listed on the TESL Ontario website.  If the degree was taken online, the length of the program must be equivalent to at least three years full time and proficiency tests must be provided for listening and speaking.

10.  Since coming to Canada, I have studied for more than three years at colleges and universities.  Will transcripts from these institutions be acceptable proof of English language proficiency?
Only a conferred degree (or transcripts indicating the degree has been conferred) from a minimum three year full time on-site degree program at an accredited organization will be accepted as proof of ELP.  If the degree was completed completely or partially online, it can be used as proof of English proficiency in reading and writing only.

11.    What if I completed my TESL training program in an institution before it was recognized by TESL Ontario?
You should contact the director of that TESL training program and request a TESL training verification letter attesting that the TESL program you completed was in every respect the same as the TESL program that institution is currently offered. If the two programs are not the same in every respect, you may either complete the outstanding courses/practicum hours in a TESL Ontario accredited institution OR apply for the TESL Ontario PLAR assessment, provided that you meet the degree and ELP requirements of Language Instructor Accreditation.

TESL Program Provider Accredited since TESL Program Provider Accredited since
Algonquin College Sept. 2000 Niagara Catholic DSB June 2010
Brock University March 2001 Peel District School Board April 2012
CCLCS Sept. 2000 Renison University College April 2012
Canadian College of Educators Feb. 2007 Seneca College May 2002
Carleton University Oct. 2003 Toronto District School Board Aug. 2006
Centennial College Oct. 2006 Trinity Western University Aug. 2015
Conestoga College on-site Sept. 2000 University of Saskatchewan Sept. 2000
Conestoga College online Sept. 2006 University of Windsor Jan. 2016
Fanshawe College Sept. 2009 Woodsworth College Sept. 2000
Humber College Nov. 2000 York Catholic DSB Jan. 2004
London Language Institute Nov. 2013 York University Sept. 2003


12.    I don’t want to mail the required documents to the TESL Ontario Office. Can I submit them in person?
Yes. TESL Ontario’s address is 27 Carlton Street, Suite 405, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1L2. The office hours are 9:00am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. When you are at the TESL Ontario Office, a staff person will make copies of your documents. You will then be able to take your original documents with you immediately. Please be aware that applications submitted in person cannot be reviewed or processed at the time of submission.

13.    I am going to mail my original documents to TESL Ontario. How can I get them back?
We suggest you do not mail original degrees, certificates or other irreplaceable documents. Applicants may either submit authorized photocopies of their original formal documents (such as transcripts and certificates) in their portfolios or come to the TESL Ontario office in person to bring in their originals along with their photocopies.  These can be authorized by a TESL Ontario staff member free of charge.

14.    How long does it take for my Language Instructor Accreditation application to be processed?
It normally takes six weeks from the date the application form, all required supporting documents, and fees are submitted to TESL Ontario. If some pieces of the required documents are submitted at a later date/at later dates, or if additional documentation is required, the six week processing period starts once the last required piece has arrived.

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Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)

15.    How long does it take for my PLAR assessment application to be processed?
For PLAR applications, the processing time is a maximum of two months from the date the application form, the portfolio and its mirror copy, and fees are submitted to the TESL Ontario Office. However, in most cases, the assessment is completed and the applicant is notified of the result in about one month.

16.   I am an experienced instructor who meets the degree and ELP requirements. I have also taken some TESL/TEFL training in the past. Do I qualify for PLAR assessment?
You qualify for PLAR assessment if you have completed at least 120 hours of training in TESL theory and methodology.  This includes TESL certificate or diploma programs such as AQ ESL courses, CELTA, DELTA, and degree programs as described under Question #14 below.

17.    I have a degree in English and meet the ELP requirement. Do I qualify for PLAR assessment?  
If you are an ESL instructor with extensive teaching experience and your degree program in English includes at least 120 hours of training in TESL theory and/or methodology, you would qualify.  Courses on linguistics, second language acquisition and teaching English as a second or foreign language are considered, while courses on English literature are not.

18.    What is a Professional Portfolio?
A professional portfolio is a collection of material that demonstrates and showcases a wide range of skills as a TESL professional. Some of your portfolio’s contents are obvious: a curriculum vitae or resumé that emphasizes your TESL training and adult ESL teaching experience, official transcripts from your university and TESL/TEFL training program, detailed TESL-related course descriptions, the number of hours for each course, and letters of reference from past and present employers.

Additional material may include a statement of your philosophy of ESL teaching, detailed outlines of each TESL/TEFL-related course that you have taken, including lists of textbooks and other core resources, types of assignments and other methods of assessment used, exact information about all teaching practicum/internship experience, if any, including both adult and non-adult settings, detailed supervision reports from past and present employers, particularly if practicum/internship experience does not match TESL Ontario parameters so that you can demonstrate that you have had successful experience in relevant teaching situations.

You can and should add anything else that shows specific knowledge and practical abilities that may not be carefully detailed in the above-listed items:

  • participation documents regarding any relevant in-service training you have taken,
  • transcripts and course descriptions for other types of courses that enabled you to acquire relevant skills (for instance, adult education programs may include material on adult learning and development or classroom uses of appropriate technologies relevant to TESL),
  • sample lesson plans and/or unit plans that you have created,
  • teacher-developed assessment tools,
  • documentation of relevant workplace or volunteer experience (for instance, a person who has volunteered  in a LINC or ESL literacy program may provide documentation of that experience to prove appropriate knowledge of LINC or ESL literacy issues, or a person who has done CLARS language assessment testing can include a letter from a workplace supervisor detailing that experience as evidence of assessment skills,
  • copies of  articles you may have published,
  • outlines or typescripts of presentations you may have given,
  • samples of materials you have created for use with your students,
  • reviews of key ESL  textbooks or other classroom resources that you have used,
  • anything else that your professional history makes possible.

Please note that sometimes the adjudicator must request more material because the candidate has not provided enough solid information about exactly what skills he or she has acquired, in which case our adjudicator will need more time, especially if sources of the additional documentation must come from overseas locations.

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Accreditation Reinstatement

19.    What are the requirements and fees involved to reinstate my lapsed Certificate of Language Instructor Accreditation?
Instructors whose TESL Ontario accreditation has expired may regain their accredited membership status at any time by applying for accreditation reinstatement. Reinstatement applications are processed in a maximum of two weeks from the date all required documents and fees are in order.

Lapsed Standard Membership and Accreditation: If both your standard membership and your accreditation have lapsed, please take the two steps described below to have your accredited membership status reinstated:

1)    Contact TESL Ontario by email at accreditation@teslontario.org to find out if you are required to have completed/ complete any hours of professional development before submitting your application for accreditation reinstatement.
2)    Complete and sign Form A-4: Accreditation Reinstatement Application, and submit it to TESL Ontario, along with your proof of professional development (PD) (if required), and a fee of $274. (This fee includes the reinstatement application fee of $120 and the annual accredited membership fee of $154.  Applicable tax should be added.)

Valid Standard Membership; Lapsed Accreditation: If you hold valid standard membership, but your accreditation has lapsed, please take the two steps described below to have your accreditation reinstated:

1)    Contact TESL Ontario by email at accreditation@teslontario.org to find out (i) if you are required to have completed/ complete any hours of professional development before submitting your application for accreditation reinstatement, and (ii) how much the total fee of your accreditation reinstatement will be. This fee (a maximum of $200) includes the reinstatement application fee of $120 and the prorated accreditation fee ($6 - $80) that will the period starting from your accreditation reinstatement month to your current standard membership renewal date.
2)    Complete and sign Form A-4: Accreditation Reinstatement Application, and submit it to TESL Ontario, along with your proof of PD (if required), and the total fee of accreditation reinstatement.

Required PD: Your proof of PD should indicate that, prior to submitting your reinstatement application, you have completed a minimum of  5 hours of PD per year you were accredited by TESL Ontario prior to 2014 and 10 hours of PD per year you were accredited beginning in 2015. To learn about activities recognized as PD, please go to www.teslontario.net/accreditation and click on "Professional Development (PD)".

Application Submission: Application Form A-4 and proof of PD can be submitted to TESL Ontario in person or by email at accreditation@teslontario.org, by fax at 416-593-0164, or by mail at
27 Carlton Street, Suite 405, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1L2.
Required fee can be paid by personal cheque (payable to TESL Ontario), VISA, MasterCard, or cash (in person). Reinstatement application fee ($120) is non-refundable. Also, the accreditation and standard membership fees will be non-refundable once your reinstatement application is approved.

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Required Theory, Methodology, and Practicum Courses  

20.    What are the required courses in a TESL training program recognized by TESL Ontario?
The essential and optional courses for TESL training are arranged in three categories: Theory, Methodology and Professionalism. Completion of a practicum that meets TESL Ontario standards is also required. For a complete chart listing all the courses, please click here.

21.    What is Practicum? In what language instruction settings should practicum hours be completed? What are the other practicum requirements?
Practicum is an academic TESL subject that is supervised by a TESL Ontario qualified practicum supervisor and must be completed through a TESL training program accredited by TESL Ontario. Practicum consists of a minimum of thirty hours of observation and a minimum of twenty hours of supervised practice teaching. TESL students must first observe classes that they will teach.
Practicum hours should be completed in the following settings in Ontario: LINC/Adult ESL for newcomers to Canada; ESL for international students at colleges, universities, and private institutions; English Language Proficiency Test Preparation Courses; EAP (English for Academic purposes); ELT (Enhanced Language Training); ESP (English for Specific Purposes); SLT (Specialized Language Training) and/or OSLT (Occupation Specific Language Training).
The twenty hours of supervised practice teaching may be done in one or more settings; however, the observation hours (thirty hours) must be done in at least two settings. Classes that are observed or taught by TESL students must have a minimum of 5 students. Students must be 18 years old and older. TESL students undertaking the 20 hours of supervised practice teaching must have individual control over the class in consultation with the supervisor. Team or group teaching is not accepted by TESL Ontario. Mentoring instructors are required to have met the degree and English language proficiency requirements of TESL Ontario accreditation, hold valid TESL Ontario accreditation, and have taught adult ESL for a minimum of 2000 hours, including a minimum of 1400 hours of teaching adult ESL in Canada.

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Professional Development (PD)

22.  Is completion of Post TESL Certificate training (PTCT) recognized as PD?
Yes, completion of a PTCT course meets TESL Ontario's annual PD requirement. However, please note that additional training/PD hours completed in any given year cannot be carried over as PD to the following year/s.

23.   Is completion of virtual seminars, such as the ones offered by TESOL International Association
(www.tesol.org/attend-and-learn) recognized as PD?
Yes, completion of virtual seminars is recognized as PD. Please make sure to keep your training certificate, registration slip, or a similar document as proof. Also, please note that additional training/PD hours in any given year cannot be carried over as PD to the following year/s.

24.  Can I use the extra PD that  I have completed during my renewal month in a given year for my renewal in the following year?  Yes, you may use extra PD hours from your renewal month towards the PD requirement for the following accreditation year.  For example, if your renewal month is September, you can use the hours of an activity during that month towards your renewal at the end of September, or you can save those hours and use them for renewal the next year.  You cannot use the same hours for both years. 

25.  I watched a webcast of a TESL Ontario conference session and I wasn't able to download a certificate. What should I do?  Sometimes, due to unpredictable glitches, our online PD users cannot access a certificate after viewing a webcast. Many things can affect the receiving of a certificate from the online webcasts, such as the version of the browser or the quality of the internet access and the traffic on the internet. The quality of the computer or the media player being used could also be the cause. For assistance, please contact us at accreditation@teslontario.org and we will be able to provide you with a record of your viewing.

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General Questions

26. Why is there such a big difference in fees between a standard TESL Ontario membership and an accredited one? 

Accredited members pay a higher fee to cover additional administration costs involved with the Registry of Accredited Language Instructors, tracking of Professional Development, TESL Ontario Standards for language instructors, trainers and programs, Post TESL Certificate training courses and fee reimbursement, etc.  All of these add credence to the professionalism of accredited language instructors.  While there may not be a large difference in terms of benefits, accreditation fees ensure that TESL Ontario is well equipped to support its teachers.

27.  How can I become trained as an English language assessor in Ontario?

Assessor training on the CLB assessment tools is not offered to individuals who are not yet hired as assessors .  Requests for assessor training must be received from a sponsoring organization that is licenced to provide language assessment and referral services in Ontario.  A list of all Language Assessment Centres in Ontario can be found at http://www.language.ca/

Anyone interested in becoming a language assessor may contact the providers directly to inquire about employment opportunities and to request training.

Generally, candidates for training must demonstrate knowledge and competence in six core areas:

  • Adult second language acquisition
  • Assessment in adult ESL
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Interview skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • English language proficiency

In addition, some specific assessment tools may require further skills and knowledge. 

Please note that assessors in funded Language Assessment and Referral Centres cannot also teach in a federally or provincially funded program in Ontario.

28.  Is there a difference between TESL and TESOL?

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an acronym created to encompass the notion of teaching English as a world language for international communication and for a more multilingual global reality. A TESOL training program is essentially the same as a TESL or TEFL program.  When considering a training program that will lead to TESL Ontario Accreditation, interested instructors should refer to the list of accredited programs on our website.  All of these programs, regardless of their name, provide a minimum of 300 hours of training (including practicum) that meets the standards set by TESL Ontario.  You'll notice that the programs listed have a variety of names: TESL Diploma, TESL/TEFL Certificate, M.A., TESOL Program etc.  Programs that are divided into two parts (stream 1 and stream 2 or certificate and diploma) should be successfully completed in full if TESL Ontario accreditation is the goal.  Also, please note that the other requirements of TESL Ontario accreditation are a university degree and proof of English Language Proficiency, as outlined on our website.