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MA Teaching English as a Foreign Language/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TEFL/TESOL)

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  • We are Top 10 in the UK for research quality - be part of our thriving research culture.
  • We are the best department in the UK for student satisfaction - our students love it here.
  • Work with internationally renowned scholars - our books dominate the reading lists at other universities.

Course options

Duration: 1 year
Start month(s): October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Language and Linguistics
Fee (Home/EU): £5,950
Fee (International): £14,950

Duration: 2 years
Start month(s): October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Language and Linguistics
Fee (Home/EU): £2,975
Fee (International): £7,475

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719

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About the course

This is a Masters course that can take you into employment anywhere in the world.

If you are enthusiastic about teaching English as a foreign or second language, then our course offers you vocationally-relevant, research-led training of the highest quality, taught by academics known for their teaching excellence.

You explore teaching methods and the description of English used in the investigation of language learning and teaching, and study additional topics according to your needs. These might include:

  • How second language learners acquire vocabulary, and how vocabulary can be taught
  • Computer-assisted language-learning
  • Literature and language-learning
  • Materials design and evaluation
  • Teaching Writing in EFL/ESL

Whether you have no prior teaching experience or are already an English language teacher, this course can be adapted to suit you. If you have little or no previous teaching experience, you receive ‘hands on’ teaching practice throughout the course, while if you already have more than two year’s full-time teaching experience, you can undertake specialist study instead.

We are one of the largest and most prestigious language and linguistics departments in the world, a place where talented students become part of an academic community in which the majority of research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, placing us firmly within the top 10 departments in the UK and among the top 150 departments on the planet (QS World University Rankings).

If you want a global outlook, are interested in human communication, and want to study for a degree with real-world practical value in a world-class department, welcome to Essex.

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Our expert staff

Our staff are internationally renowned. Their books dominate the reading lists at other universities; Florence Myles authored the best-selling Second Language Learning Theories, and Bob Borsley wrote both Syntactic Theory: a Unified Approach and Modern Phrase Structure Grammar.

Other teachers on this course include Christina Gkonou, who has conducted extensive research into the effects of individual factors like anxiety on success in language learning, and Julian Good and Tracey Costley, who have taught English in Europe, the Far East and South America for many years before coming to Essex.

Karen Roehr-Brackin is a leading expert on the relationship between metalinguistic knowledge (conscious awareness of the rules of language) and language learning ability, and Adela Gánem-Gutiérrez is a leading expert on the use of computers and the role that interaction in the classroom plays in language learning.

Specialist facilities

Your future

Takers of our MA TEFL and other courses in English Language Teaching come with the specific intention of entering the ELT/TESOL profession, which they duly go on to do.

Students on these courses often join us after a career in English teaching, to update their expertise and return to the classroom with a career enhancement.

The specialist knowledge you gain enables you to take senior or specialist roles (for example in computer-assisted language-learning, ESP or teaching young learners), not necessarily only in the classroom but also in educational advice and management, programme evaluation, syllabus design and teacher education.

We also work with the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

What are the similarities between first and second language acquisition? And what are the differences? How does this change between child and adult second language acquisition? Study the key concepts around language acquisition. Evaluate, compare and contrast the main theories and empirical research.

How do you respond to learner questions about language? What do you understand about the nature of language? Build the linguistic vocabulary and analytical tools needed to talk about the English language effectively and accurately in second language learner classrooms.

What psychological factors impact on second language learning? Study the range of cognitive variables that are relevant to the field of second language learning. Undertake your own piece of research, building your practical knowledge of the theoretical issues and gaining useful experience for future MA projects and research.

What teaching materials should you use? How does this change when you are teaching young learners? And what about adult learners? Develop a critical approach in deciding which course books or other available materials are most appropriate for a specific class or particular context.

What are research methods? What are the differences between quantitative and qualitative research? Learn more about the research tools available for studying applied linguistics and TEFL. Examine each available research method in-depth. Build your understanding, while preparing for your MA dissertation or other future research projects.

Are you ready to write your dissertation? Build your knowledge of the standard practices for writing assignments and dissertations. Understand the common research methodologies and paradigms used in applied linguistics and TESOL.

Are you ready for your dissertation? What qualitative research methods are suitable for your research? Learn more about the qualitative research methods and statistical techniques that you could use for your MA dissertation or other future research projects.

What interests you? Write a 16,000-word dissertation on a research topic of your choosing, with supervision from our expert staff. Gain research planning, organisational and project management skills while increasing your knowledge of the subject. Build your research abilities for future employment or a PhD.

Want to write lesson plans for different lesson types? Keen to make use of classroom resources and teaching aids? Understand the principles of teaching before embarking on classroom-based practice. Examine key topics like choosing materials, lesson planning, and classroom management. Learn to work as a member of a teaching team.

How have different approaches to English Language Teaching emerged and what are their key underlying principles? How do different approaches lead to teaching methods and activities? Explore different types of language syllabus and curriculum design. Develop a range of classroom management techniques that will enhance language learning. Understand the impact of recent developments in technology for both teaching and learning.

What are the qualities of a good TEFL teacher? What roles do teachers play in different lessons? How do you manage a language learning classroom? How important are teaching aims and learning outcomes for each lesson? Explore the range of materials, practical activities and resources available for teaching grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

How do teachers design and develop their own teaching materials for language classes? What are the underlying principles involved in materials evaluation, adaptation and design? Develop and refine your own materials designing skills. Try out new materials and activities which you have developed in practical micro-teaching sessions in which you will teach colleagues. Receive structured feedback on your teaching and materials design.

Want to work as a language teacher? Or conduct second language vocabulary research? Study how second language vocabulary can be taught, assessed and researched. Examine the latest research on how second language learners use vocabulary. Learn how to examine the vocabulary knowledge of EFL learners.

Want to conduct research on a psychological aspect of language learning or teaching? Understand the key concepts and methodologies used to examine psychological factors involved in language learning and teaching. Analyse the methods available to study the psychology of language learning, then undertake your own research project.

Why should we use computers in the language classroom? When is their use appropriate? And how do you best use them? Study computer-assisted language learning (CALL), so that you understand the arguments for and against. Create CALL tasks using available tools and become familiar with a range of CALL resources.

How do you select literature for a language class? What are the distinctive features of literature for classroom use? What practical activities can language teachers undertake using literature? Learn to incorporate literature into the language classroom. Examine novels, poetry and drama, and understand how to use drama in the classroom.

How do you teach someone to speak? And how do you teach someone to listen? Understand the cognitive aspects and learning strategies for speaking and listening. Evaluate approaches to teaching listening and speaking in the classroom. Examine the available materials, approaches to test learners and the design of appropriate materials.

How important is age when learning another language? Study the role that age plays in bilingual development. Examine second language acquisition in both naturalistic and classroom settings, alongside first and second language attrition. Explore current theories on bilingual development, evaluating the empirical evidence and learning implications from such research.

Do you want to explore in some depth a research question that has emerged from one of your modules? Are you keen to do some independent research? Survey the existing literature on a topic that has intrigued you. Prepare the ground for your MA dissertation, under the watchful eye of a supervisor.

What are the problems with programmes teaching English for specific purposes (ESP)? Can you set up a research-based project in ESP? Examine concerns over course design, alongside developments in theory and methodology. Critically evaluate different syllabuses and teaching materials. Gain practical experience by building your own research-based project in ESP.

What are the main issues in teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP)? How do you conduct EAP Needs Analysis? Discuss EAP and the role played by Needs Analysis. Examine the importance of the four EAP skills areas. Evaluate EAP teaching and learning materials. Critically assess and design your own work.

What are the key trends in teaching young learners? How do you motivate young learners? Or deal with their anxiety? Examine theories regarding teaching and assessment of young learners. Understand how children develop and how this affects learning. Analyse different teaching styles. Learn to use technology safely in the classroom.

How do you manage a group of adult learners? Can you select and adapt teaching materials? Are you able to evaluate your lessons? Gain practical experience of teaching and observing teaching. Learn to plan lessons and provide opportunities for your learners to develop their speaking, writing, reading and listening skills.

What are the key concepts of sociolinguistics? Do social variables, like gender or class, affect speech? Develop critical awareness of how English language works, studying tools to describe and analyse it. Examine spoken and written discourses in different contexts. Understand issues around language in order to become a better teacher.

How is English taught in different educational sectors? How important are individual learning styles and strategies? Explore the key concept of learner autonomy, its implications and consequences. Examine different approaches to testing and assessment. Develop the skills involved in providing effective formative feedback to learners. Consider your own professional skills and the options available for the further development of your career.

What is the difference between EFL “systems lessons” and “skills lessons”? How can the skills of reading, listening, speaking and writing be developed at different proficiency levels? Develop effective techniques for motivating language learners. Consider the importance of learner errors and techniques for dealing with them. Examine different classroom interaction patterns for teaching and learning and consider the importance of group-work and pair-work for language practice.


  • Teaching methods include lectures, demonstrations and learning by teaching others
  • We run a weekly departmental seminar, attended by both staff and students


  • Your eight one-term modules are assessed by coursework and you are also assessed on your dissertation


  • Your 16,000-word dissertation allows you to focus in-depth on your chosen topic from April onwards
  • Close supervision by a member of staff within our Department

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UK entry requirements

A degree with an overall 2:1.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.0 in writing

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Visit us

Open days

We host an Open Evening for those interested in postgraduate study with us. Here you’ll be able to discuss our courses with academics, tour the Campus and accommodation and get the answers to all your questions about studying at Essex. Find out more and book your place online.

We also hold several Open Days throughout the year so that you can visit our Colchester Campus and find out more. These Open Days are geared towards undergraduate applicants but whilst you won’t get specific information on your course, you’ll still be able to tour our Campus, meet our students and get a feel for life at Essex. You can get more information and book a place online.

If our dates don’t work for you then don’t worry, you can always book a campus and accommodation tour on a weekday to suit you. Just email to get booked in.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. We have a comprehensive list online so take a look and see if we’ll be near you in the future.


You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.