Monday, May 11, 2015

Foundation in TESL: FAQ

My application results, a year ago.

I've been getting a lot of questions regarding my experience in the Foundation in TESL (Asasi TESL) programme. Therefore, I thought I'd share them and answer the frequently asked questions here in one blog post. I hope this will come in handy for the future students who are considering Foundations in TESL.

First off, to clarify, I am a "graduate" of Foundation in TESL from UiTM Kuantan batch 2014/15. I am not planning to continue my degree in TESL because I am not interested in the education field. The following answers are purely from my own perspective and I am in no way promoting either TESL or UiTM to be your course and university of choice.

What is TESL?

Now before we can talk about the details of Foundation in TESL, you need to know what TESL is. TESL is an acronym for Teaching English as a Second Language. It is not the same as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of another Language) and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). TESL is usually taught in countries where English is not the first language but it is a dominant language and is used often. For example here in Malaysia, we may have Malay, Chinese or Tamil as our first language but at the same time we are capable of communicating and understanding English.

TESL is aimed to produce educators who will be teaching English in the primary, secondary or tertiary level. Although people will tell you that you don't necessarily need to be an educator, but this is the main objective of TESL (more on other options later). TESL programmes start as early as foundations and can be extended to PhD levels.

What are the requirements?

Requirements to enter TESL differs from uni to uni (or colleges), so I will take the ones that are needed for Foundation in TESL in UiTM.

  • Minimum 5 credit (C) of subjects including Bahasa Malaysia.
  • Minimum of A- in English.
  • Credit (C) in Maths or Addmaths.
  • Pass the written test and interview (if called).

Another thing I would personally add is the basic ability and interest in English. TESL is not for those who want a "start over" in learning the language. You will not be learning the basics like you did in primary and secondary school. The subjects are more in depth and intensive, so I suggest you brush up on your skills before entering. Interest or passion in learning and teaching the language is also important as it is not for those who think to take it because it "sounds easy".

Where can I study TESL in Malaysia?

You're in luck. Due to the increasing demand of proficient English teachers, a lot of public universities and private collages provide TESL in their list of courses. I cannot list all of them, but from the top of my head I can say UiTM, UM, UPSI, UPM, USM, UTM, UMS and UKM as a few, though most of these are in degree.

I suggest you check out, a website that provides a lot of details in where and what you could further your studies in.

Job opportunities.

Once you've finished your studies in TESL (be it in Degree, Masters or PhD), your main option is of course in the education field. These can be jobs such as:

  • Teachers.
  • Lecturers.
  • Corporate educators.
  • Tuition teachers.
  • Administrator position in the higher education field.
  • Developers of education mediums such as books, audio CDs, etc.
  • Roles in the Ministry of Education.

There are other options for those who are less interested in the education field and these jobs are more into the mass communications and artistic fields such as journalism, media marketing, writers, etc.

What are the differences in TESL and other English courses?

The main difference is the aspect of education. In TESL, you learn more on how to use English to educate those around you as well as yourself. Besides the basic subjects of writing, reading and grammar, there are also subjects that are specifically on education (Basic Principles in Education and Islamic Education Studies). Not only do you gain new knowledge but you also learn how to share the knowledge with others.

I am not aware of any more differences, but perhaps you can find them on the net by Googling "TESL vs [subject of contrast]".

What will I learn in Foundation in TESL?
The Foundation in TESL for UiTM is a two semester course that has 8 subjects in each course which consists of the 4 core subjects and 4 minor subjects.

Semester one:
  • College Reading I
  • College Writing I
  • Listening and Speaking I
  • Grammar I
  • Islamic Studies
  • Malaysian Studies
  • College Study Skills
  • Computer Literacy

Semester two:
  • College Reading II
  • College Writing II
  • Listening and Speaking II
  • Grammar II
  • Islamic Education Studies
  • Introductory Literature
  • Language and Drama
  • Basic Principles in Education

Should I take up TESL? Is it easy or hard?

The answer is also a question: How passionate/interested are you?

You see, the thing that most teachers and parents won't tell their students and children is that every single course is hard. Be it medic or mass communication, it will be hard. Not only are you jumping in to a new world of subjects, but you're also going to be entering  new world of experience. In university, your lecturers (yes, we don't call them teachers anymore) will not spoon feed you every single knowledge; you must have the initiative to find them yourselves. But I'm not going to talk about that in this post.

Frankly, if you are good in English and you want to give back to society, go ahead. If being an educator is your dream, go ahead. If you are not in any way interested in the education field as your future job preference but other courses don't seem to fit your credibility, go ahead. Why do I say this? Because it is simply foundations. You don't have the obligation to continue your degree in TESL if you are not swayed by the idea of being an educator. The idea of giving it a try and learning something new is better than not going into university at all, isn't it? In my experience, it has been 2 semesters of good and bad; the good outweighing the bad of course. You will have ups and downs, but then what doesn't?

It all comes down to your interest and passion. But whatever it is, I wish you good luck.


I hope this post gave you at least basic (if not more) information for Foundation in TESL or TESL in general.

If there are any more questions that I have not touched in this post, do comment below.
Thank you and have a good day.


  1. hi, im taking ftesl too but im just curious like if i finish my foundation in tesl can i proceed to study my degree in the overseas

    1. Hi there. It depends on where you're taking your foundations and your results. I can't guarantee a yes or a no since you would need to apply into overseas learning programmes or sponsorships. You would need to ask your lecturers for further information.

  2. Salam. I'm considering of applying foundation in tesl but i'm not confident since i can't speak in Eng fluently. So, kalau nak ambik tesl memang kena fluent ke speaking?

  3. Hi. Hm my question is just the same as anonymous. My english is not fluent but i really like english and. Well since my friends in the secondary school are all malays,we didnt talk in english so yeaa it's hard for me to speak in english.

  4. If I got A+ in my English but D in one of my sciences subject, is there any hope that I can pursue this course.
    What is the worst result in SPM of your friends? I want to compare the minimum requirements ...thanks