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Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)

School of Urban Education
Undergraduate major / Bachelor of Science

About The Program

The BS Teaching ESL (English as Second Language) major is designed for students interested in the knowledge, skills, methods, and strategies for working with urban multilingual language users in K-12 schools. This program is designed so that students can meet the requirements to obtain an initial K-12 ESL teaching license as part of a major and bachelor’s of science degree. This major can also be a program of interest for those who work with multilingual language users outside of the school setting.

Program Highlights

  • Designed to provide flexibility for working adult students
  • Create a flexible schedule to take classes at your pace given your other life and work responsibilities
  • Courses meet once per week, often in the evening
  • Courses are offered in-person, online with synchronous meetings and in hybrid formats
  • Participate in direct field experience in urban classrooms and courses focusing on urban education
  • The curriculum has a strong focus on cultural relevance and education equity throughout the program
  • Instructors integrate and build upon the rich, diverse cultural knowledge and professional experience of students in program courses
  • Learn with the most diverse student and faculty population of any teacher preparation unit in Minnesota; a majority of our students, faculty and staff in the School of Urban Education are from BIPOC communities
  • Learn in small, friendly classes that allow you to know instructors and fellow students well
  • Get a high-quality education at the most affordable cost of any university in Minnesota

Transfer Students

This major is an excellent option for students transferring from a Minnesota State 2-year college with an associate degree having completed the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. Whether or not you have completed your associate’s degree, just some coursework in Education or no Education coursework yet, the School of Urban Education is the place for you because nearly 90% of Metro State’s students transfer from other institutions.

Consult with an Urban Education advisor to know which transfer courses meet major requirements, or visit

Career Opportunities

This degree and licensure program opens up opportunities for both personal and professional growth. This program is most appropriate for individuals who are interested in working with students who are multilingual or are trying to become multilingual language users by learning English in addition to their home language. Make a difference in the lives of urban children by setting a strong education foundation that will last a lifetime. Empower yourself with the content knowledge, teaching skills, urban field experiences, and professional poise you need to give multilingual urban students a high-quality education.

Program Accreditation

This degree program is accredited by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) for meeting the requirements of an initial licensure program to be an ESL teacher in K-12 classrooms.  

Student outcomes

Students successfully completing this program will meet the following standards for K-12 ESL


  • Implements 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 English learners.

  • Uses various content-based methodologies and integrates language acquisition and use of language functions across learning experiences to facilitate full inclusion of English.

Related minors

How to enroll

Current students: Declare this program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further admission requirements your chosen program may have, you may declare a major or declare an optional minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)

Program eligibility requirements

To be admitted in the Urban Teacher Program, students need to meet the requirements and criteria stated in the Undergraduate Admission Requirements in the School of Urban Education.

Contact or meet with an advisor to learn more.

Courses and Requirements


In addition to completing required coursework for the major and University graduation requirements, the following are among the requirements for program completion and K–12 license:

  • Completion of at least 120 hours in urban K-6 (40 hours), Middle School (40 hours), and High School (40 hours) are required prior to student teaching.
  • Completion of a total 12 weeks of full-time student teaching at one school level (elementary, middle school or high school)
  • Passing all required performance assessments.
  • Background check and license application with fee.



The following courses (EDU 200 and EDU 203) are open to all students and are among the requirements for admission to the Urban Teacher Program. In addition to the below list, any Ethnic Studies (ETHS) course (at least 3cr) and the University General Education/MnTC Requirements (All 10 Goal Areas completed, 40cr, consult with your advisor on recommended courses for this major). EDU 203 and some Ethnic Studies courses may fulfill GELS requirements, so those are not counted in the total credits.

This course provides an introduction to urban learners, urban teaching, and urban school systems using case studies and first-person accounts of teaching and learning in an urban environment. Current issues facing urban P-12 students, teachers, schools, districts, and communities will be discussed. Society's responsibility to urban schools will be examined along with the roles that teachers and schools play in increasing student achievement and leading school improvement. Key concepts of the Urban Teacher Program will be introduced including the importance of high expectations, student and teacher resiliency, educational equity, using the community as a resource, and reflection. Various perspectives and dimensions of the achievement gap will be examined, including causes due to discrimination and perspectives on what constitutes high educational achievement for culturally and linguistically diverse youth. Students in this course are expected to explore and express their own…

Full course description for Introduction to Urban Education and Reflective Teaching

This course introduces prospective urban teacher candidates to core concepts and approaches of multicultural education including issues related to student, family and community diversity based on race, culture, language, class, gender, sexual orientation and disability. Issues of oppression, privilege and equity in relation to schools and society are also addressed as students use their life experiences as a multicultural reference point to begin to understand the life experiences of the diverse students who attend urban public schools. Emphasis is placed on demonstrating the multicultural competence required of all successful teachers working with diverse urban youth. Clinical field experience hours are part of the course requirements.

Full course description for Multicultural Education


State ESL licensure requirements include learning a second language through two years of second language instruction in a high school setting or one year of second language instruction in a postsecondary setting, or the equivalent.

Additionally, choose one of the following linguistics courses:

The course introduces students to the study of how language is acquired and learned, concepts and methods of analyzing language, and how the field of linguistics studies regional, racial, and gender differences in language. The course examines how the processes of standardization create approved and dominate versions of languages and non-standard and minoritized varieties and dialects of languages. The course also explores linguistic intolerance and prejudice, raciolinguistics, linguistic hierarchy, implicit bias, and privilege. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

Full course description for The Nature of Language

In this course students undertake language analysis (e.g., phonology, morphology, syntax) in a cultural context, including the relationship between language, culture and thought. It presents an anthropological perspective on various linguistic and cultural systems, with special emphasis on those of Chicano/Latino, African-American, American Indian and Anglo-American peoples. Students are introduced to the implications of linguistic and cultural differences in work and classroom situations. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism throughout the course.

Full course description for Language and Culture


Field experiences (5-15 hours) are required for most professional methods courses and documented practicum experiences working with students who are multilingual language users are required at the elementary, middle and high school level (at least 120 hours total).

This is the introductory course in the urban special education degree/licensure program . This course provides an overview of urban student exceptionalities, urban students with disabilities and urban students with gifts and talents. Special emphasis will be placed on the legal aspects of educating urban students with disabilities, characteristics of urban exceptional children, and the assessment, instructional, and collaborative strategies associated with educating urban students with exceptionalities.

Full course description for Foundations of Special Education in Urban Settings

This course focuses on common methods of differentiating instruction for urban middle school and high school classrooms. Teacher candidates begin learning how to create developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant unit and lesson plans that attend to the various abilities, needs, cultures, experiences, and interests of urban 5-12 students while also meeting district and state standards for learning and making interdisciplinary connections. Foundational understanding of the diverse learning styles and developmental characteristics of young adolescent and adolescent learners forms the basis upon which appropriate plans are developed and methods are employed. The inter-relationships between standards, assessment, curriculum and instruction are examined in promoting high achievement for each urban learner. Teacher candidates gain awareness of current trends in urban middle school and high school education along with the knowledge and skills these trends demand of effective urban…

Full course description for Urban Middle School and High School Methods

This practicum is designed to give urban teacher candidates the opportunity to document and reflect upon at least 40 hours practical clinical experience working with diverse youth in an urban middle school or high school. Most of the field experience hours will be determined by field-based assignments required in other Education courses. Included with these experiences, urban teacher candidates practice using diagnostic assessment to guide their instructional planning of at least three lessons for a small group of 1-5 students needing help to improve their reading or mathematics literacy. Successful completion of this practicum is a prerequisite for student teaching. Requirements include attendance and participation in periodic seminars to help prospective urban teacher candidates reflect upon their field experiences, and prepare for future clinical field experiences including student teaching. Co-requisites: EDU 306, OR EDU 606, OR EDU 323, OR EDU 481.

Full course description for Urban Teaching Practicum and Seminar

This course is an introduction to the use of information technology (IT) devices and applications to promote teaching and learning in k-12 educational settings for students with and without disabilities. Teacher candidates will learn primary tools and software applications to promote teacher productivity and integration of IT to promote curriculum, instruction, assessment, and family/educator communication. In addition to instruction and productivity for k-12 general education settings, the course will include introduction to accessibility issues and the "digital divide" that impact urban learners and educators. Students in this course will demonstrate their competence using technology by developing an electronic, standards-based portfolio.

Full course description for Information Technology for K-12 Education

This course is based on current research on the relationship between classroom management and academic achievement to prepare prospective urban teachers for facilitating student learning in a positive classroom environment. Participants in this course will examine teacher and student classroom behaviors from a cross-cultural perspective to recognize the effects of cultural/linguistic differences in the assessment, interpretation, and planning of the instructional and social environment in a class. Students will gain understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create learning environments that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation. Students will also gain understanding of how factors in students environment outside of school may influence the classroom learning environment. A portion of this course will explore the influence of the use and misuse of drugs, and management strategies for atypical behaviors stemming…

Full course description for Managing Learning in Diverse Urban 5-12 Classrooms

This course explores historical, cultural, and sociological foundations of urban education in the United States. Core concepts include democracy and education, educational equity for all students and historical as well as contemporary relationships between school and society. Emphasis is on issues of power and the educational segregation and attempted deculturalization of historically marginalized groups. Resilience and persistent struggles for equal educational opportunity in the face of oppression are also emphasized from diverse cultural perspectives. Philosophical, legal, cultural and ethical perspectives about education are explored as students develop critical awareness of issues to further develop their own philosophies of urban education. The community is a resource for cross-cultural inquiry and learning about the educational strengths and challenges faced by diverse groups living in urban areas. Students gain understanding of the contributions and lifestyles of various…

Full course description for Historical and Cultural Foundations of Urban Education

This course will review development of children grades 1-6 and connect development to the practices used to design programs for grade 1-6 children in urban classrooms. Urban teacher candidates will learn appropriate curriculum and instructional strategies for the presentation of a program which integrates development, skills, and content knowledge in individualized, culturally respectful manners for diverse urban learners. Prospective urban teachers will develop learning plans for grades 1-6 language arts, mathematics, social studies and science and have opportunities to assess their plans as part of a holistic, child-centered curriculum. The rationale and strategies for developmentally appropriate guidance will also be learned. Clinical field experience hours are part of the course requirements.

Full course description for Urban Grades 1-6 Curriculum and Practicum

This course explores the fundamentals of reading instruction. The course provides Early Childhood and pre service k-6 teachers with knowledge of the foundations of the reading and writing process, strategies and curriculum materials to support reading and writing instruction, assessment tools and practices to plan and evaluate effective reading instruction, and create a literate environment that fosters reading and writing.

Full course description for Foundations of Teaching Reading in Urban Grades K-6


Field experiences (5-15 hours) are required for most professional education courses and documented practicum experiences working with students who are multilingual language users are required at the elementary, middle and high school level (at least 120 hours total).

This course includes an examination of the process of second language acquisition and strategies for teaching English Language Learners (ELL) subject matter content in urban K-12 classrooms. Prospective teachers will learn how to modify mainstream course materials and instructional strategies so that ELL students can engage in course content while simultaneously developing their English language skills. Course activities and expectations include demonstrating teaching strategies; developing lesson modifications; evaluating textbooks and other materials and resources available in the field; and examining issues in testing students of limited English proficiency for placement, diagnosis, exit, and evaluation. There is a requirement of a 10-hour field experience in urban setting involving classroom participant-observations and working with an ELL student.

Full course description for Teaching and Assessing English Language Learners

This course examines the experience of students in grades K to 12 who are immigrants or refugees (or their relatives) living in urban communities, particularly within the Twin Cities. The historical and contemporary push and/or pull factors that contributed to families from various countries and cultures recently coming to the United States will be examined. Important similarities and differences between the experiences and status of immigrants and refugees will also be studied. Particular challenges encountered within the U.S. will be explored, as well as examples of resiliency, achievement, and community resources. Students will gain the understanding of different cultural practices; benefits of bilingual education; how the larger community and the socio-cultural framework shape communication with parents; and how the urban environment conditions may influence learning. Critical issues in urban multilingual immigrant and refugee communities will be discussed.

Full course description for Immigrants and Refugees in Urban Schools

This course starts with the fundamentals of the first and second language acquisition, and differences between child, adolescent, and adult language acquisition. Students will learn and demonstrate strategies to develop skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing across the K-12 curriculum. Other topics are: differences between literacy development in the first language and the second language and implications for teaching English learners; and communication techniques that enhance student learning. Students will become familiar with a variety of methods, approaches, techniques, and programs; and will investigate issues related to the full inclusion of English learners in the school setting; and that both language learning and subject matter learning are essential to student success. The teaching of reading and writing across the curriculum will be emphasized, as well as the use of technology. Urban field experience in grades K-12 is part of the course requirements.

Full course description for Theories and Methods of Language Learning

This course includes formal and informal second language assessment techniques to determine placement and to evaluate the progress of English learners in grades K-12. It also addresses criteria for determining the readiness to enter and exit English proficiency programs. Students will gain an understanding of the characteristics and limitations of second language assessment, including the ones for placement in gifted and special education programs; they will learn item and test construction methods appropriate for students with limited English proficiency; and how to administer, interpret, and explain test results to parents and colleagues; rubrics and standards alignment with district goals. Other topics are: curriculum development related to the English learners; program planning; connecting schooling experiences with everyday life, the workplace, and further education; involving the community; purpose of co-curricular and extracurricular activities; and best practices. Urban field…

Full course description for Assessment and Curriculum for English Learners in Urban Schools

This course examines the roles and responsibilities of the urban ESL teacher. Students will develop the ability to communicate successfully with English learners in grades K-12, their parents, colleagues, and urban community members. Other topics include bilingualism, multilingualism, resources for continual professional development, classroom management, and working effectively with colleagues and the community to support student learning.

Full course description for The Urban ESL Professional

This advanced pre-student teaching practicum is designed to give urban teacher candidates the opportunity to document and reflect upon at least 60 hours practical clinical experience in an urban middle school or high school classroom within their subject area of licensure. Requirements include teaching at least 3 lessons in their licensure area to a whole class of students, but most of the clinical field experience hours and active classroom involvement will be determined by field-based assignments required in other Education courses and the cooperating urban school teacher hosting the practicum. Successful completion of this practicum is a prerequisite for student teaching. Requirements include attendance and participation in periodic seminars to help prospective urban teacher candidates reflect upon their field experiences, and prepare for student teaching.

Full course description for Advanced Urban Teaching Practicum and Seminar

This course presents an in-depth study of the predominant current philosophies and methodologies of Early Childhood and Elementary reading instruction. Emphasis will be placed on the critical elements in literacy development. These elements are: phonemic awareness, phonic instruction, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. Current organizational procedures and foundations of reading instruction will be presented. Special consideration is given to effective practices and adapting instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Full course description for Methods of Teaching Reading in Urban Grades K-6


Student teaching is a requirement for license seeking teacher candidates only. Student teaching will include 12 full-time weeks in an ESL classroom. Teacher Candidates must notify the Field Experience Director two semesters prior to doing their student teaching. They must also submit a draft student teaching application to their advisor by September 1st for Spring placements and February 1st for fall placements. Choose one of the following student teaching courses:

Required culminating clinical field experience with children and a cooperating classroom teacher in an urban elementary grades (K-6) classroom for urban teacher candidates seeking elementary education licensure. Placement is for a minimum of twelve full-time weeks based on teacher candidate's Individualized Student Teaching Plan that is developed with and approved by the teacher candidate's advisor and the Field Experience Coordinator the semester prior to student teaching. Weekly reflections, periodic seminars with other student teachers, and the development of a standards-based e-folio are also required.

Full course description for Student Teaching in the Urban Elementary School K-6