Master of Arts
Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second and Foreign Language
at the University of South Florida
Linguistics and language teaching, in the College of Arts and Sciences at USF, are disciplines we explore by connecting theory, research, and practice. We use linguistic science to help answer real life problems. We are especially interested in solving problems related to culture, second language acquisition, and language teaching.
Our MA is distinctive in how we balance theory and practice. So, if you want to learn "how to," you will learn the nuts and bolts of teaching in our program. And if you want to know "when" and "why" you might also find our program a good option. To use the words of one of our graduates, "Becoming a TESOL professional is like navigating in a sailboat. The practical aspect you learn in this program is like putting sails on the sailboat. You can move fast but you can be buffeted by fads. The theory and research in the MA Linguistics: TESL program give you a rudder, and let you steer the course you want."
Who are our MA students?
Some of our students come to us from counties near the Tampa Bay area. Others have moved to the Sunshine State for our MA degree. We also have students from around the world come to study in our program.
Many of our students already possess considerable experience as language teachers -- whether in the public or private sector -- but this experience is not a requirement. Novices and experts both benefit from graduate studies with us.
Quite a few of our students have entered the field as a second career. You may be surprised to learn that most of our students are in their 30s or 40s. We often have graduate students who are nearing retirement age. We occasionally have students who begin graduate work right after completing the bachelor's degree, but this is less common.
Many of our students enter the field because they love learning languages; our program welcomes both native and non-native speakers of English. In fact, international, non-native English speakers are an important part of our student population. We do require sufficient English proficiency for academic success as our classes are conducted in English. (Please turn to the prospective students' page for information about TOEFL admissions requirements for non-native English speakers.)
All of our M.A. students will have personally experienced the second language acquisition process, including the native English speakers. Since language learning is so complex, we require our MA students to demonstrate some level of ability in a second language (L2) before they graduate. You do not need to sound like a native speaker, but you do need to have experienced the language learning process. It makes you a more empathetic teacher, and a wiser one. (For details on the L2 exit requirement, read the Handbook. It is online, in the Resources section of this site.)
What are the career options for our MA alumni?
The strength and breadth of our program is evident if you consider where our alumni are employed. Our graduates now teach ESOL in the US public school system; others teach EFL in international settings; some direct language institutes; a few have careers in sales or marketing related to international education; others have proceeded to earn doctoral degrees. Our program, as you can imagine, prepares students for a breadth of opportunities in language education and research.
Description of program leading to the Master of Arts in Linguistics
Our main course of study leads to a MA in Linguistics: TESL. In this program, you experience a two-semester internship rather than write a thesis. In addition to courses involving linguistic theory and practice, you will take graduate coursework in ESL/EFL/ESOL methodology, curriculum and testing, second language acquisition, cross cultural issues, sociolinguistics, etc.
The Master of Arts in Linguistics requires 36 semester hours total. To pursue the degree on a full-time basis, you will enroll in 9 credit hours, or 3 classes. To study on a part-time basis, you must still enroll in at least 6 credit hours, or 2 classes. This is the minimum enrollment for our MA students, and may be one reason why we have a 98% graduation record.
The Linguistics Program seeks to embrace the study of all major aspects of human communication. It is anticipated, therefore, that students may come to graduate study in Linguistics from a variety of backgrounds, and therefore, may be unprepared for graduate level work in one or more of the core areas. To assist students in remedying this problem, we offer LIN 5700, Applied Linguistics, as an intensive, accelerated course in Linguistics for graduate students with little or no previous background.
All students must enroll in LIN 5700 the first term it is available. LIN 6081, Introduction to Graduate Study in Linguistics, must be taken during your first term of enrollment as a graduate student, or during the first term it is available, if not offered during the first term the student is enrolled.
You may not drop either LIN 5700 or LIN 6081, except under extenuating circumstances where you are forced to withdraw from all work attempted in the term. In such a case, you must contact the program advisor or director and inform him/her of the decision to withdraw.
With all your admissions and first-year requirements attended to, you can look forward to your internship. Your internship takes place over two semesters. During this period, you gain increasing experience as your responsibilities likewise increase. You will have full responsibility for an ESL/ESOL class in the second internship. You are mentored by a TESOL professional, an individual carefully matched to your needs. Internship and mentorship assignments help you stretch your abilities and bring "head knowledge" to life in the class you teach.
You are a paid employee if you intern in at INTO USF English Language Program for the second internship. Earnings are typically a stipend and a partial tuition waiver for the second internship semester. Off-campus internships are a possibility for interns who already hold an ESL/ESOL teaching position. The ELI cannot pay off-campus interns, of course, but these interns benefit by earning course credit for their regular work.
As a part of the M.A. program requirements, you must successfully complete the Exit Assessment. The Exit Assessment consists of three parts: the Linguistic Analysis, the Treatment Plan, and the Portfolio. The Linguistic Analysis provides you the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts to the analysis of authentic learner language. Language data from an English language learner is collected and analyzed to draw conclusions about the language learning processes, problems, and achievements of the learner. After the Linguistic Analysis is completed, a Treatment Plan is devised. The Treatment Plan allows you to address pedagogically the linguistic issues that emerged in the Linguistic Analysis. The Treatment Plan is supported using relevant second language acquisition theory and research. Finally, the Portfolio consists of materials generated throughout your entire graduate program and may include materials presented in individual courses and the internships.
Before graduating, you will satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement. You can document your L2 proficiency in various ways. The L2 proficiency proof is an exit requirement, but you should attend to it as early as you can, so you do not delay your graduation. Please read the Handbook for details. (The Handbook can be downloaded from the Resources section of this site.)
Academic advising and scheduling will be done in coordination with the candidate's advisor. It is the candidate's responsibility, while in residence, to meet with his/her advisor regularly, but at least once each semester during the regular registration period to schedule his/her courses for the following semester. Each student is reminded of University Policy Statement 415:
Although the University provides advising services to assist students with academic planning, the responsibility for seeing that all requirements are met rests with the student.
Degree Requirements for the Master of Arts in Linguistics: TESL Core courses
TSL 5371 Methods of TESL (3 credit hours)
TSL 5372 ESL Curriculum and Instruction (3 credit hours)
TSL 5471 Language Testing (3 credit hours)
TSL 5525 Cross Cultural Issues in ESL (3 credit hours)
TSL 6745 Internship (3 credit hours)
LIN 5700 Applied Linguistics (3 credit hours)
LIN 6081 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Linguistics (3 credit hours)
LIN 6675 Grammatical Structure of American English (3 credit hours)
LIN 6720 Second Language Acquisition (3 credit hours)
- Nine hours of approved electives at the graduate level (these may be inside or outside the program)
- Three hours of internship through enrollment in TSL 6945
- Completion of the Pedagogical Theory paper (exit exam)
- Completion of the Classroom Practice and reflection paper (exit exam)
- Completion of a final portfolio (exit exam)
- Foreign language proficiency at Novice-High level, as detailed in the Handbook
Recommended Sequence of Coursework
Leading to Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics: Teaching ESL
Year 1: Fall
Important! Read note on course timing and sequencing requirements, below.
Year 1: Spring
Year 1: Summer
||6 credit hours
Year 2: Fall
Year 2: Spring
Course Timing / Sequencing Requirements
LIN 6081 (Introduction to Graduate Study in Linguistics) must be taken during the student's first term of enrollment as a graduate student, or during the first term it is available, if not offered during the first term the student is enrolled.
Students must enroll in LIN 5700 the first term it is available to them.
Drops are not permitted from either LIN 5700 or from LIN 6081, except under extenuating circumstances where the student is forced to withdraw from all work attempted in the term. In such a case, the student must contact the program advisor or director and inform him/her of the decision to withdraw. Candidates are advised to investigate the University deadline for withdrawing from a course without academic penalty.
Do you want more information? Please read the pages "why study here?" and "frequently asked questions".