Accreditation FAQ

What is TESL Saskatchewan?

TESL Saskatchewan is the professional association responsible for professional development, accreditation and representation of the people responsible for English language education and training in the province of Saskatchewan. As Saskatchewan’s ESL teacher accreditation body, TESL Saskatchewan reviews training programs, employer and learner needs, funder requirements and the work of sister organizations across the country to determine appropriate levels of training for ESL education positions in the province, and sets standards accordingly.TESL Saskatchewan has a few non-Saskatchewan members, but its purpose isto represent, provide in-service for and accredit ESL educators specifically in and for Saskatchewan. Its board is made up of directly elected representatives evenly divided between Saskatoon, Regina, and the rest of the province (rural/northern).

What’s the difference between TESL Saskatchewan and TESL Canada?

TESL Canada is a national professional organization of ESL educators, representing members of provincial affiliate associations and a smaller number of individual educators who have joined as individual members. Its board is made up of a combination of directly-elected committee chairs and executive members, and representatives of the provincial affiliates.

TESL Saskatchewan represents English language educators in Saskatchewan, and also represents Saskatchewan’s English language educators on the TESL Canada board. One
member of the TESL Canada Board of Directors is a TESL Saskatchewan provincial
representative. A portion of the annual membership fee TESL Saskatchewan receives are remitted to TESL Canada, so all TESL Saskatchewan members are also TESL Canada members and have representation and professional development resources available through both organizations. There are some differences in mandate between the two. For instance, TESL Saskatchewan provides accreditation services to both adult and K-12 educators, whereas TESL Canada certifies only adult educators. The standards are also somewhat different; TESL Saskatchewan reviews all accreditation applications on a case-by-case basis, with strong emphasis on demonstration of depth and rigor equivalent to degree credit programming, whereas TESL Canada’s two lower standards are based on review and recognition of individual programs and do not guarantee degree-credit equivalence in the depth and rigour of approved programs (although a baseline of content, quality and instructor qualifications are assured). However, both organizations require accreditation/certification applicants to have university degrees in addition to TESL professional training that meets the needs of employers in the Canadian TESL community. Also, both distinguish between three levels of training and experience.

When I finish my training program, will you send me my TESL Saskatchewan accreditation certificate automatically?

No. After you have completed your training in a reputable, rigorous TESL program, you will need to apply directly to TESL Saskatchewan for accreditation, using the application form and checklist provided in your member account on the TESL Saskatchewan website.

What’s the difference between being a member and being an accredited member of TESL Saskatchewan?

Anyone involved in ESL education in Saskatchewan can become a TESL Saskatchewan member. Therefore, our membership includes TESL volunteers, trainee teachers, program administrators and non-TESL teaching specialists as well as formally trained English language educators. Accredited members of TESL Saskatchewan have gone through a process of accreditation that requires demonstration of substantial, rigorous formal training in the TESL field. Accredited members with Full accredited status have also demonstrated substantial successful professional experience in the field.

Do I need to be accredited to be a member?

No.

Do I need to be a member to be accredited?

Yes.

How do I qualify for accreditation?

Find qualification information on How Accreditation Works.

How do I apply?

You must become a member of TESL Saskatchewan, which you can do right here on our website. Sign up for a free account and fill out the Membership application. See How Accreditation Works for information on the various accreditation levels and requirements.

How many levels of accreditation are there?

Until April 30, 2018, we provided at just one level, with “interim” status for less experienced teachers and “full” status for teachers who had at least 1000 hours of paid ESL classroom teaching experience. On May 1, 2018, we established a three-tiered system similar to but in key ways more rigourous than that of TESL Canada.  TESL Saskatchewan does not formally recognize any particular program of training, but we do require training to be balanced between TESL-specific theory, methodology and English language structural knowledge, and we require training to be carried out at a level of depth and rigour that matches that of university degree credit programs.

What level of accreditation do I need?

  1. If you want to work as an Education Assistant or Tutor, or if you are a K-12 teacher needing to meet the needs of some EAL learners who are integrated into your mainstream classes, the Introductory standard may be adequate. (The mainstream K-12 teacher, of course, also requires a provincial "Professional A" teaching certificate mandated by the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Body.) We do not recommend that teachers with only 120 hours of training be placed in charge of ESL/ EAL classrooms given the high professional demands of English language teaching in Canada.
  2. If you want to be the teacher in charge of English language classes or small group targetted instruction classes (resource rooms) in either the adult or pre-K-12 school system, the Competency standard is strongly preferred. This equates to 21 academic credits/7 courses specifically in the TESL field, and must include TESL methodology, theory, English language knowledge, and either an appropriately designed supervised practicum or a minimum of 1000 hours of documented successful English language teaching experience. The Competency standard's 21-credit baseline is also recommended as a minimum for most supervisory, consultancy and teacher training positions, though we encourage candidates for such positions to add Master's degrees in Education, TESOL or Applied Linguistics to their Competency credentials.
  3. The new TESL Saskatchewan Mastery standard actually goes beyond the basic expectations of a Master's degree because it is intended to promote very advanced standards of skill and knowledge. This is an exceptional credential for exceptional academic achievement in our field. Many relevant Master's degrees in the fields of Education, TESOL or Applied Linguistic, provide little more than the 250 academic hours of TESL training needed for the Competency standard; those that accept candidates with little or no academic or experiential background in English language teaching cannot provide both the teaching skill and deeper academic background that we need from "masters" in our field.  TESL Saskatchewan Mastery requires that postgraduate Masters or Doctoral degrees at least double the candidate's practical, theoretical and research knowledge of the English language teaching field. This is because in Saskatchewan, we have an urgent need for master-teachers who also have strong skills in research and program development, a combination of abilities that not all Master's programs provide. The Mastery standard is intended to encourage TESL educators in Saskatchewan to attain the skills and knowledge needed to lead programs and research as the needs of our field continue to evolve.

If I have a Masters degree, do I qualify for TESL Saskatchewan's Mastery level?

It depends. Please see the preceding paragraph. Not all Masters programs meet the needs of our Mastery level. We define appropriate postgraduate degrees as those that at least double the academic TESL knowledge of teachers accredited at the Competency level and that qualify their completers to carry out meaningful research in the English language-teaching field. Not all relevant Masters degrees succeed in both those tasks.

If I have to do a practicum, how many students need to be in the classes that I teach during my practicum?

For the Introductory standard, because it is intended to apply to EAs, tutors, and mainstream pre-K-12 teachers who may be working with very few learners, a minimum number is not recommended. However, for Competency and Mastery, a class taught during the practicum needs to include at least five learners.

Are the practicum hours included in the 250 academic training hours for Competency?

No. The practicum hours are in addition to the 250 academic training hours. If you do not have experience that qualifies you for waiver of practicum, you need a training program that gives you a total of at least 300 hours (250 academic, 30 ESL classroom observation, 20 supervised practice teaching).

Will TESL SASK accreditation help me in other provinces?

Currently, only Saskatchewan and Ontario provide their own accreditation services. Other provinces look to TESL Canada.

TESL Ontario has a more particular set of content and practicum requirements than TESL Saskatchewan, so if you complete a program that TESL Ontario has not explicitly recognized (in Saskatchewan, currently this means an extended version of the CERTESL program), you will need to go through a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process in order to receive TESL Ontario accreditation.

However, as of May 1, 2018, TESL Saskatchewan's new Proficiency standard ensures the same amount of training as TESL Ontario requires, including both a minimum of 250 academic contact hours, 30 classroom observation hours and 20 supervised practice teaching hours delivered at a comparable level of depth and rigor. However, TESL Saskatchewan requires only IELTS 6.5 or the equivalent for non-native speakers of English, whereas TESL Ontario requires IELTS 7 or the equivalent. TESL Canada also requires a PLAR process for programs not formally recognized by TESL Canada, but TESL Saskatchewan accreditation does assure TESL Canada of an appropriate content balance for Standard 1 purposes which simplifies the PLAR process. TESL Saskatchewan requires a higher degree of rigour than TESL Canada Standards I and II. TESL Saskatchewan's baseline Introductory standard requires the same number of academic and practicum hours as TESL Canada's Standard 1. TESL Saskatchewan's Proficiency standard requires the same amount of academic and practicum hours as TESL Canada's Standard 2. TESL Saskatchewan's new Mastery level
requires more explicit TESL background than TESL Canada's Standard 3. TESL Canada requires IELTS 7 for all three of their standards, the one respect in which Standards I and 2 are more onerous than TESL Saskatchewan's Introductory and Proficiency standards.

Will TESL Canada certification help me in Saskatchewan?

It depends. Currently, TESL Saskatchewan is “grandfathering” TESL Canada certification holders as an interim measure to support TESL Canada, which is in the process of changing its administrative structures. The interim period will end on April 30, 2019.  TESL Canada Standard I matches the requirements of TESL Saskatchewan’s new Introductory level of accreditation. In Saskatchewan, we regard this level as suitable for education assistants working with pre-K-12 ESL learners and tutors/teaching assistants in adult ESL programs, but not for classroom teachers. This is because a program at the baseline of Standard I/Intro does not provide enough academic training to meet the needs of demanding LING and academic purposes programs. TESL Canada Standard 2 certification will help with the majority of employers. However, some Saskatchewan employers want assurance of degree-credit depth and rigour , which TESL Saskatchewan guarantees but TESL Canada Standards I and 2 do not.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of the Economy, which funds many programs for adult immigrants, wants to see more than the baseline of Standard 1 in programs that it funds. Federally-funded LINC programs may accept the baseline of TESL Canada Standard 1, but if employers can find teachers with either more extensive TESL coursework or coursework at a degree-credit level of rigour, those teachers will usually be given preference.

TESL Canada Standard 3, which is based on a Canadian Master’s degree in TESOL, does guarantee appropriate depth and rigour and a suitable practicum (30 guided classroom observation hours and 20 supervised practice teaching hours). However, some employees are cautious of Master’s programs because not all Master's programs ensure that completers of their programs have adequate teaching skills. Some Master's programs do an excellent job of preparing new teachers, but others focus too much on theory and not enough on real teaching skill – appropriate if solid teaching background is a requirement for admission, but a serious problem if good prior teaching skills are not required.

In addition, TESL Canada certifies teachers only for adult contexts. TESL Saskatchewan accredits both adult ESL instructors and pre-K-12 teachers who are adding TESL credentials to their Professional “A” pre-K-12 teaching certificates.

I need to obtain a letter of reference or positive performance review and a statement of professional classroom teaching hours for TESL Saskatchewan full accreditation or waiver of practicum. Who should I ask to provide this documentation?

Your letter of reference or performance review must be written by an experienced TESL professional. For the Introductory and Competency levels of accreditation, this person must have training and experience in English language teaching at least equal to the Full Competency requirements. For the third standard, TESL Sask Mastery, the person must meet the Proficiency requirements.

Occasionally, the Human Resources offices of employing institutions are asked to provide the statement of experiential hours. However, HR offices are not always able to distinguish between ESL classroom teaching hours and hours of employment dedicated to other types of work, such as preparation time, meeting time, private tutorial time, or time teaching other subjects. Usually, therefore, the statement of experiential hours is provided by a workplace supervisor who is more often in a position to distinguish between the candidate’s ESL classroom teaching hours and other types of service to learners. Often this will be the same person who is qualified to write the letter of reference or performance review, but not always.

What should my letter of reference or performance review include?

We have provided a sample form on the Accreditation pages of the TESL Saskatchewan website. Another suitable model can be found in the Certification section of the TESL Canada website.

What happens if my application package for TESL Saskatchewan accreditation is missing some required pieces?

We will let you know what is missing. You will need to pay a supplementary fee and provide the missing items before we will assess your application. My application for TESL Saskatchewan accreditation was rejected, or resulted in a lower level than I think I deserve. Can I appeal? How? You will be told why your application did not succeed. If you disagree, you can resubmit your application with an explanation of why your application should have succeeded. You will need to pay the application fee again when you re-submit. If your appeal succeeds, the second payment will be refunded.

If your application did not succeed because of incomplete documentation, you will not re-apply; instead, you will pay the supplementary fee mentioned in the previous question when you provide the additional documentation we required.

When can I apply?

You can apply for either membership or accreditation at any time. Simply create an account and fill out the Membership form. Accreditation applications are processed within 45 days of documentation being completed.

What are the accreditation fees?

See Membership Fees for full details.

If my undergraduate degree is from abroad can I apply for accreditation?

Yes, but you will need to provide a formal report from Word Education Services (WES) or another acceptable academic credential assessment body in Canada.

My first language is not English. Does this matter?

You will also need to provide proof of English language proficiency. These details are also provided in the Accreditation section of teslsask.com. Basically, you will need to demonstrate completion of a university degree at a university accepted in Canada as using English as the medium of instruction at a suitable level of challenge, or provide a suitable score on an approved test of academic English language skill. The Proficiency standard requires a higher level of English language skill than the Introductory and Competency standards.

What is the difference between a certificate, a diploma and a degree?

A degree is awarded by a university or appropriately accredited polytechnic institute, and a Canadian university or recognized international degree assessment body will recognize it as a degree at the Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral level. Undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degrees may be three or four years (90 to 120 credit units) in length, following 12 years of elementary and secondary education.  A diploma may come from a university, but it may also come from a technical or business college. Diplomas are usually issued for programs of only a year or two in length. Some are classified as “postgraduate” – that is, delivered at a more advanced level of challenge than a degree – but most are delivered at a non-degree level of depth and rigour. 

A certificate may be many things, even if it comes from a university. Some are equivalent to full post-degree years (30 credit units). Some are equally tough but a lot shorter. Some are short programs that are not assessed at a credit level of rigour, or aren’t formally assessed at all. 

If the institution is neither a university nor another appropriately accredited postsecondary institution, the words “diploma” and “certificate” may mean very little. Please do some research before enrolling in any program that markets itself as a TESL certificate or diploma, therefore. If you are looking for training that will lead to professional accreditation and you are in any doubt about a program’s suitability, talk to TESL Saskatchewan before you pay any tuition.

What courses are accepted?

We do not accept any particular courses or programs; every application is considered on an individual basis. However, we must see that you have at least 250 hours of relevant coursework, including a core of training in TESL theory, TESL methods, and pedagogical knowledge of English language structure; we must see that you have completed a suitable practicum or can demonstrate adequate successful professional ESL classroom teaching experience in lieu of practicum; and we must see that you have completed a degree that meets the expectations of degree programs in Canada.

Do you recognize short seminar programs?

No. Teaching the English language in Canada requires much more substantial training, with more rigorous assessment, than short seminar programs can provide. Seminar programs are generally designed for short-term overseas adventures, not for professional careers.

I speak English. Do I really need qualifications to teach TESL?

Yes. Good teaching requires more than language skill alone. Also, many parts of Canada are competitive TESL markets. Funders and professional associations require employers to be picky, and the best employers are able to insist on more than minimum standards for their staffs because good training programs aren’t that hard to find. Even if no local university or college has a TESL program, good distance options are available and accessible.

I’m an English teacher. Can I teach ESL classes?

Not if you are a teacher of English in the sense of English literature, composition or language arts. Language teaching may include some literature and language arts, but language teaching is a specialization of its own, with specific knowledge and skill requirements that overlap only partially with literature and language arts.

I’m a K-12 teacher. Can I teach ESL classes?

You may end up doing it, but if you don’t have appropriate knowledge of TESL theory and methodology, it may not be a good idea for you or your students. The Ministry of Education regards a minimum of 6 courses as the requirement for a specialization in TESL, and a 10 course program of approved study (Additional Qualification Certificate) is strongly encouraged for K-12 EAL educators. There is still a shortage of qualified K-12 EAL educators, but key school divisions are already working to meet these expectations when hiring new teachers who are likely to be teamed with EAL learners.

I have a degree in Linguistics. Can I teach ESL classes?

Only if you have taken appropriate coursework and either practicum or experience in lieu of practicum, as detailed in the Accreditation section of the TESL Saskatchewan website. Understanding the behavior of language and the theory of language acquisition does not guarantee understanding of language learners or practical skills in language teaching.

I’m an adult educator. What do I need in order to teach EAL to pre-K-12 students?

In almost all cases, you need a B.Ed. or post-degree diploma in Education accepted by the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board. Please contact the Board (sptrb.sk.ca) for information about K-12 teaching certification in and for the province of Saskatchewan. Provisional certificates are sometimes provided if your specialization is hard to find in the K-12 school system, but provisional certificates are very limiting and provide less security for the teacher.

Do I need TESL Sask accreditation to be hired in Saskatchewan?

No, but you do need to demonstrate to employers that you meet professional expectations for the field. TESL Saskatchewan accreditation is the most straightforward way to do that.

Does my accreditation expire? When?

Accreditation needs to be renewed every five years on the basis of documenting at least 25 hours of relevant inservice participation.

Can I apply for accreditation if I haven’t taught yet?

Yes. You may be eligible for Introductory status or Interim Competency status. Full Competency status requires 1000 hours of documented successful ESL/EAL classroom teaching experience.

Can I apply for accreditation if I don’t live in Canada? Saskatchewan?

Yes. Every year a few teachers who are emigrating to Canada or returning to Canada after acquiring experience abroad apply for TESL Saskatchewan accreditation or TESL Canada certification so that they can start seeking employment immediately upon their arrival in Canada. However, remember that Full Competency or Proficiency status requires at least 500 hours of Canadian English language teaching experience. To qualify for Introductory or Interim Competency or Interim Proficiency status with only overseas experience, you will need to complete a practicum in Canada that matchesTESL Saskatchewan requirements.

What happens if my TESL Sask accreditation application is not accepted?

It depends on the reason for refusal. If you are refused because your documentation is not complete, you can complete the documentation but will have to pay a small administrative fee for re-submission. If you are refused because you do not meet the requirements, you will be given information about the requirements you do not meet so that you can complete them. You will then submit a new application, paying the full application fee.

What is the difference between full and interim status?

Full status at the Competency level means you have documented at least 2000 experiential hours, including at least 1000 hours of professional ESL classroom teaching experience. Interim status means you have not accumulated that much experience. For Proficiency status, at least 3500 hours of relevant experience is needed including at least 1000 teaching hours.

How do I renew my accreditation?

By providing documentation of at least 25 hours of relevant inservice during the fiveyear period, and maintaining your membership throughout the five years.

What if I do not renew my accreditation at the end of five years, but want to do so later?

You will need to pay for the membership years that you have missed. If standards have changed during your unaccredited time, you may also need to re-apply on the basis of the new standards.

Who is the TESL Sask accreditation committee?

The committee is chaired by a member of the TESL Saskatchewan board of directors. The committee normally has at least two other members. Ideally at least one member should come from each of the three electoral divisions within the TESL Saskatchewan membership, which are Regina, Saskatoon Rural/Northern. Members are appropriately qualified English language teachers with the balance of knowledge needed to carry out credible assessments of the credentials of individual candidates.

If I’m accredited do I have a better chance to present at the annual TESL Saskatchewan/SKTEAL conference?

It’s nice but not necessary. Sometimes we need conference presenters whose expertise is in areas not covered by TESL-specific accreditation. Usually we are just glad that potential presenters are applying! If the proposal is good and the proposer is credible, there’s a good chance that it will be accepted.

Are there scholarship opportunities to help me get my accreditation?

See Bursaries and Awards.

If you teach in the K-12 sector, you may also be eligible for bursaries provided by SKTEAL, the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation professional growth network for teachers who work with English language learners in elementary and secondary schools. Reputable training programs may qualify you as a student for student loans, Employment Insurance-related education funding, or funding designated for Indigenous learners.

I have a CELTA Cert. Can I get my TESL SASK accred?

CELTA in addition to a degree matches the TESL Sask. Introductory minimum requirements. Competency requires another 150 relevant academic hours (four courses) from a program that provides coursework at a degree-credit level of depth and rigor, and either additional practicum time or documented successful experience. CELTA is one of a handful of non-degree TESL Canada Standard I programs that has been demonstrated to provide foundational training equal in depth and rigour to that of degree credit coursework in TESL. If you have completed a TESL Canada Standard 1 program that the Accreditation Committee of TESL Saskatchewan has not previously reviewed, you will need to provide extensive additional documentation of the program’s depth and rigor in order to receive TESL Canada Level 1 accreditation.

I’m an English teacher in my home country (Not Canada). Do I need TESL Sask accred?

It’s a good idea. Good Saskatchewan employers want some assurance of your ability to work effectively with English language learners living in Saskatchewan. Federal and provincial government funders of programs want assurance that they are funding good teaching; academic purposes programs belonging to Languages Canada need to demonstrate that their teachers meet appropriate standards, too.  If you want to teach in elementary or secondary schools in Saskatchewan, please visit the website of the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board because you will need to obtain a K-12 teaching certificate in order to teach anything in K-12 schools. After that, you can check out TESL Saskatchewan accreditation.

I lost my accreditation certificate! Can I get a new one?

Yes, we can send you a replacement certificate for an administrative fee. Please contact us at inf[email protected] for more information.

Do my transcripts need to be originals?

Do they need to be sent by my university? We prefer original transcripts that are sent to us by your university. However, in some overseas locations this is difficult to arrange. If necessary, therefore, we will accept notarized true copies of transcripts from candidates whose postsecondary education was obtained outside of Canada. Official translations of non-English transcripts are also needed.  Please note that we cannot accept a transcript that merely says “English” or “teaching of English”. Because “English” can refer to English literature, composition, language arts, English as a second language and English language structural linguistics, we need either a transcript or course descriptions for the transcripted courses that clearly state that particular courses are in the theory and methods of English language teaching.

My university degree was earned overseas. How can I demonstrate its equivalency to a Canadian university degree?

Please arrange to have your degree assessed by the Canadian branch of World Education Services (WES - https://www.wes.org/ca/), the International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS - https://www.alberta.ca/iqas-overview.aspx) or another recognized assessor of internationally-earned academic and professional credentials. 

What should my observation report include?

A good sample report form is provided at the website of TESL Canada, You don’t have to use that particular form; your supervisor may have one that he or she prefers. However, the information requested on the TESL Canada sample form is typical of the kind of information that concerns responsible TESL employers, so it’s a good one to choose.

How do I become a TESL Sask Board member?

Show your interest by attending our annual conferences and participating in annual general meetings! Every year we put out a call at the AGM for candidates who are then elected online by all members -- if we have enough candidates to hold an election. Very often, there is no competition, so we would welcome more candidates.

How do I join a TESL Sask committee?

Email us at [email protected] to express interest, or let a board member know.

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