Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

2018 M.A. TESOL participants

2018 M.A. TESOL participants

Whether you hope to teach English to non-native speakers in a community college, institute of higher education, nonprofit organization, K-12 context, or abroad — an M.A. from Greensboro College can help you achieve your dreams.


M.A. TESOL students

If you enjoy being in an educational setting and learning about different cultures, you should consider a Master of Arts degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Greensboro College. With a Master’s in TESOL, you will be qualified to apply for full-time teaching positions in a variety of academic settings including community colleges, private language academies, K-12 schools*, university-based intensive English programs, and non-profit service organizations.

For those who crave adventure, there are exciting, attractive jobs teaching English around the world with good salaries, paid travel expenses, subsidized housing, paid vacation and health insurance. Greensboro College can help get you there.

Our M.A. in TESOL is the credential that English language employers seek and it will open doors far beyond that of a TESOL certificate program. Our core curriculum seeks a balance between working with adults and working with children, with the goal of preparing our graduates for a variety of teaching contexts. Specialized elective courses allow you to customize the program to meet your individual needs.

Founded in 2001, this 30-semester-hour program consists of:

  • 15 hours of language and culture,
  • 9 hours of pedagogy, and
  • 6 hours of research

Other special features:

  • Work at your own pace — including a fast-track option. Studies may be completed in four consecutive semesters (13 months) or at a more relaxed pace, if that is what you choose.
  • Courses in the fall and spring semesters are offered online, with a face-to-face residential component in the summer months.
  • Residential program includes a five-week summer session from late June to end of July with affordable room and board.
  • Students who are unable to attend the summer session in Greensboro have the option to complete the program entirely online.

Learn more at our Facebook page!

About Us

Founded in 1838, Greensboro College provides undergraduate students a true liberal-arts education while also offering four master’s degrees. Greensboro College provides a coeducational and independent learning atmosphere with approximately 1,000 undergraduate students from 29 states and territories, the District of Columbia, and seven foreign countries. We have 45 full-time faculty who teach 32 majors and more than 1,000 different courses directly to our students. We pride ourselves on our one-on-one contact between faculty and students, with no graduate assistants or teaching assistants teaching courses at Greensboro. We consider ourselves a leader in academic advising and leadership development programs. Greensboro College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Michelle Plaisance
Dr. Michelle Plaisance
TESOL Program Director

Dr. Plaisance fell in love with the world of TESOL during her undergraduate studies in Quito, Ecuador and Heredia, Costa Rica. Forced to eventually settle in one hemisphere, she pursued her MAT in TESL from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. After some years of experience as an ESL teacher in NC public schools, she returned to UNCC to pursue her doctorate in Urban Literacy, with a TESOL concentration. Dr. Plaisance joined Greensboro College in 2014 as the program director and assistant professor of English and TESOL. She’s passionate about learning and life-long education, which makes her job in graduate studies one of her greatest pleasures.

Professor Jane Girardi
TESOL Program Assistant Director

Prof. Girardi has been part of Greensboro College’s MA-TESOL Program since its inception in 2001. She began her TESOL teaching career at High Point University, offering foundational ESL courses to international students. At Greensboro College she has worked with Admissions and advising for adult programs and designed the first courses in Educational Inquiry and Current Issues in TESOL. A past member of International TESOL, FLANC, ACTFL and AATG, she served as chair of the Higher Ed Section of the Advisory Board of Carolina TESOL. Although officially retired, Professor Girardi continues as Assistant Director of the MA-TESOL Program and teaches Current Issues in TESOL.

Abby Dobs
Dr. Abby Dobs
TESOL Instructor

Abby Dobs has been teaching and studying English since her days as an undergraduate. She completed her M.A. in English from UNC Charlotte and her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Pennsylvania State University. Her work, as a teacher and a student, is motivated by a respect for the power of language and a belief that greater knowledge and awareness of language use in social practices may ultimately lead to change—at the societal, institutional, or personal level. Her research explores how teaching and learning are accomplished in classroom interaction. At present she is exploring how an ESL teacher fosters second-language motivation and learning through language play. Dr. Dobs also serves as editorial assistant for the Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict.

Degania Fortson
Professor Degania Fortson
TESOL Instructor

Prof. Fortson received her M.A. in TESOL from Greensboro College and her B.A. from the University of Georgia. She also holds an M.A. in early childhood education but primarily focuses on adult instruction. She is currently teaching in community literacy programs in the Triangle area.

Degania has lived most of her life abroad and taught in a number of diplomatic, international communities. Her TESOL-related research interests explore the transformation of individual identity within a multilingual/multicultural context and the evolution of the global citizen. Her educational research interests include metacognition and the multiple brain functions leveraged in the learning process that collaborate to form unique learning profiles.

She is raising three “Third Culture Kids” and hoping to impart on them global competence and cultural intelligence.

Dr. Kathy J. Lyday
TESOL Instructor

Dr. Lyday teaches first-year writing, linguistics, grammar, history of the English language, American literature, literature of the Holocaust, and Appalachian literature on a regular basis at Elon University in Elon, NC, where she has taught for 33 years. During the past several summers, she has taught applied and descriptive linguistics and grammar in the Masters of TESOL program at Greensboro College. After finishing her Bachelor’s and Master’s in English at Tennessee Technological University, she completed a PhD at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in American literature and with special emphasis areas on English language studies and modern literature.

Dr. Elena King
Associate Director of TESOL and Assistant Professor of English and TESOL

Dr. King joined Greensboro College as a part-time instructor in 2014 and was named to the full-time faculty in 2016. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. Her research interests include teacher perceptions of immigrant students and the language sharing of English learners in urban secondary schools. She has worked as a University Supervisor for TESL candidates, ESL instructor in an intensive English language program, adjunct faculty in the College of Education at UNC Charlotte, and in middle and secondary public schools as an ESL teacher.

Duaa Makhoul, TESOL instructor
Duaa Makhoul
TESOL Instructor

Duaa Makhoul is a passionate TESOL instructor. She earned her bachelor's degree in Applied English from The University of Jordan and completed her master's degree in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her teaching seeks to explore methods and pedagogies that help teachers in maximizing learners’ potential for language acquisition based on students’ cultures, linguistics capabilities, and academic resources. Coming from an ESL/EFL learning background herself allows her to connect more to ESL students and relate to the challenges facing both the students and teachers in the field. Her research interests include language acquisition and development, neurolinguistics, and developing effective pedagogies and learning methods.

Alicia Reid
Alicia Reid
Instructor of TESOL

Alicia Reid received her undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Belmont Abbey College, a master’s degree in Education and certificate in Curriculum and Supervision from
UNC Charlotte. She is a National Board Certified teacher in English as a New Language and has her administrator’s license. Currently she is ABD in the Urban Education, Curriculum and
Instruction PhD program at UNC Charlotte. She has worked with individuals with disabilities, has been an ESL Teacher (K-12), a SIOP Title I Coach, an Instructional Support Coach and a
Dean of Instruction. Mrs. Reid has developed and facilitated professional development for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and is a member of the NC Department of Public Instruction’s
EL Support Team. She coaches and mentors teachers on instructional strategies, data, differentiation, and best practices for teaching English learners. Her research interests include
teacher education, teacher preparation, and Hispanic/Latino Student Success in K-12 and Higher Education.

Timothy Sims
Dr. Timothy Sims
TESOL Instructor

Dr. Sims serves as the Director of Federal Programs for Hickory Public Schools where he supervises the oversight and implementation of multiple federal programs including Title I, English as a Second Language and Career and Technical Education. Dr. Sims has contributed to numerous NC initiatives including the K-2 Literacy Assessment Task Force, the Ready Schools Task Force, the Kindergarten Think Tank, the ELL Support Team, as well as the development of the NC English Language Proficiency Standards. Through the years, Dr. Sims has developed and provided professional development to educators from throughout the state covering such subject areas as literacy, English language learners, and school reform. Dr. Sims completed a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Master of School Administration from Appalachian State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Le Moyne College.

Paula Wilder
Professor Paula Wilder
TESOL Instructor

Professor Wilder received her MA in TESOL from Greensboro College and her BA in English from Guilford College. She currently serves as the director of academic English as a foreign language at Durham Technical Community College. Paula has been responsible for the creation and implementation of academic EFL curriculum programs at two community colleges in NC and is working as a consultant for other community colleges who are in the process of implementing their EFL programs. She is also an instructor in the TESOL certificate program at NC State and has taught at Harvard University’s Institute of English Language. In 2014, Paula received the TESOL International Ruth Cryme’s Award and was a runner-up in the 2016 TESOL International Teacher of the Year Award. She has presented her research in a variety of venues, including NC Community College System Office Conferences, SETESOL, Carolina TESOL, TALGs, NCADE, NCEI. In her free time, Paula enjoys hiking, kayaking, and gardening. She is an avid reader and enjoys all genres. She also has four children who range in ages from 19 to 24.


M.A. TESOL Curriculum

ENG 5300 English Grammar: Students learn about American English through traditional, functional, and descriptive grammar approaches. Syntax, semantics, dialectology, linguistic geography, and usage are also discussed. (Required)

ENG 5310 General Linguistics: Student learn the basic principles of language study, including a history of the English language. Among the topics covered are word origins; linguistic developments; the study of dialect, structure and meaning, and the social use of language; first and subsequent language acquisition. This course also examines the influence of power, race, class, and gender on the development of languages through and across time. (Required)

ENG 5320 Practicum in Applied Linguistics: This field experience provides multiple opportunities to evaluate and assess linguistic competence and performance in native and non-native English speakers and plan appropriate curriculum and materials. Focus is on morphological, phonological, syntactic, and semantic systems in the diverse, multilingual and/or multidialectal classroom. (Elective)

ENG 5330 Language and Culture: Students examine the interaction of language and society. Topics include cross-cultural communication; national language policies; multicultural verbal and non-verbal behavior, customs and traditions; prestige language; gender, ethnic, political, and class issues in sociolinguistics. (Elective)

ENG 5420 Current Issues in TESOL: Students explore legal and cultural issues affecting the teaching of English as a second language. Laws concerning immigration, school policy and ESOL students, and cultural differences affecting teaching and learning, are among topics covered. (Required)

ENG 5500 Special Topics in TESOL: Each semester, one or more special topics are introduced to the TESOL curriculum based on students’ needs and interests. Examples of recent special topics include Academic Writing for the English Learner, Authentic Assessment, and The Adult English Learner. (Elective)

ENG 5430 Reading and Writing for the English Language Learner: Among topics covered are reading and composition theory; curriculum; purpose, audience, structure and development of texts; modes of discourse; L1 and subsequent language acquisition and learning; assessment and evaluation; direct instruction and interventions; issues related to ELL students and families from various language typologies and levels of competency in written and spoken English; special populations, exceptionalities and technology. (Required)

ENG 6310 Descriptive Linguistics: This courses surveys contemporary models of linguistic analysis, application to a wide diversity of natural languages, and evaluation of universal and cross-cultural application Students are acquainted with the general principles of descriptive linguistics including phonetics, regional and social dialects, cultural and social aspects of language, gender issues in language, slang, euphemism/taboo, and semantics. (Elective)

ENG 6500 Pedagogy of TESOL: Students learn about oral and written language and content-specific approaches to language instruction and the English language learner: lesson planning; curriculum design; evaluation; assessment; technology; test design; special populations; reflective practices; legal issues; family literacy; social service; human resources; state and federal programs; integration of content; and bilingual education. (Required)

ENG 6510 Practicum in Pedagogy of TESOL: The practicum provides the opportunity for students to apply theoretical, philosophical, and research-based study in the field of TESOL and to demonstrate through a series of assignments the skills, strategies, and best practices related to language, culture, pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment. It also provides students a further opportunity to reflect upon their work as professionals and continue their cycle of learning. (Required)

EDU 6150 Introduction to Educational Inquiry (Research): This course introduces students to educational inquiry and research methodologies at the graduate level. The course is intended to increase the students’ ability to read critically, to synthesize the products of educational inquiry, to conceptualize research issues, and to conduct a clear, disciplined inquiry into a topic. (Required)

ENG 6900 Teacher as Researcher and Practitioner: Final Project: This capstone course offers students the opportunity to design and develop a product (e.g., teaching aids such as curriculum design and materials; interactive website; in-service training workshop, etc.) to help facilitate and promote English language teaching and learning for speakers of other languages worldwide. Students will continue to deepen their understanding of educational inquiry and research methodologies, strengthen their ability to read critically, to synthesize and conceptualize research issues, and conduct a clear, disciplined inquiry into a topic. (Required)


The MA TESOL program operates on a rolling admissions program. Apply when you are ready to start and join us for the next available session.

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA 3.0 or higher
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample

Step 1: Complete the Application

Step 2: Send Documents to our Admissions Department

  • Letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample
  • Official transcripts (sealed)
  • Official transcript evaluations sent from NACES-approved agency
  • Photocopy of visa for international students

Document may be emailed to or mailed to Greensboro College Admissions, 815 W. Market St., Greensboro, NC 27401

Greensboro College now also offers graduate certificates in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Contact Us

Michelle Plaisance, Ph.D.
TESOL Director
Tel.: 336-272-7102, ext. 5285

Elena King, Ph.D.
TESOL Associate Director
336-272-7102, ext. 5750

Jane Girardi, M.A.
TESOL Assistant Director
Tel.: 336-272-7102, ext. 5302

For general and application information:

Office of Admissions
(336) 217-7284
(336) 217-7238 [fax]

Office Hours

8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday

On Friday night, January 24 (early Saturday morning), the college will experience an Internet outage of up to 30 minutes while one of its Internet providers performs planned network maintenance. The outage should occur between midnight and 2:30 a.m.