PLAR – Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

Applicants whose training was completed at an institution not on our list of recognized teacher training program can apply to TESL Canada for certification. You will not be eligible under our regular certification scheme because your training is not from a recognized program, but will be recommended to PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment Recognition).

A PLAR adjudicator in TESL Canada will review your experience and training in order to determine equivalency. If they find a component(s) lacking from your portfolio they will recommend the course(s) that will be needed to meet our standards. Once you have been assessed through PLAR you will be granted certification if a) they deem your application is equivalent to our standards, or b) you satisfy the missing components in the prescribed length of time. The cost of the PLAR assessment is CDN $290 plus tax.


Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

What is PLAR? 

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is a process used by TESL Canada to assess and evaluate the skills and knowledge of an ESL teacher applying for TESL Canada certification, but who has not received training through a TESL Canada recognized program. Applicants going through the PLAR process have to submit a professional portfolio demonstrating equivalent competencies to those who have graduated from a TESL Canada accredited program.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR PLAR?

TESL Canada certification will be awarded to applicants who demonstrate an equivalent competency to those who graduate from a TESL Canada accredited program. Applicants whose training was completed at an institution not on the TESL Canada list of recognized teacher training programs may apply to TESL Canada for certification through the PLAR process. The following guidelines help determine whether to apply for TESL Canada certification through PLAR:

Formal Training:

Have you completed a minimum equivalent of 100 hours of English as a Second Language (ESL) courses with a focus on theory and methodology?

Verifiable documentation (sealed transcripts) is required.

Do you have performance evaluations of your adult ESL teaching that document successful implementation of ESL theory and methodology?    

Informal Training:

If you have the minimum equivalent of 100 hours of formal training, have you completed an equivalent of at least 25 hours of on-the-job teacher training, workshops, or non-credit courses with a focus on ESL theory and methodology?

Verifiable documentation (workshop certificates, workplace letter outlining on-the-job training received, transcripts showing participation in non-credit courses, etc.) is required.  

Do you have performance evaluations of your adult ESL teaching that document successful implementation of ESL theory and methodology?    

Informal Learning:

Life experiences are an asset for an ESL teacher to possess, but informal learning alone will not qualify for TESL Canada Certification.

 

WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO AND WHAT ARE ITS CONTENTS?

A professional portfolio is a well-organized and documented record of one’s learning, experience, and growth in a particular field of work. Both digital and hardcopy portfolios must have clearly defined sections that allow the reader to evaluate the qualifications of the applicant.

1. Introduction:

In 250 words or less, provide a statement outlining your underlying beliefs about teaching strategies and practices. This statement should summarize the documents in the portfolio and how they exemplify your abilities, skills, and knowledge.

2. Education:

Name of University, Degree(s) completed with year(s) of completion.

Sealed transcripts must be sent to TESL Canada by the applicant or the institution(s).

Please note: If a degree is from another country, the applicant must provide a Canadian equivalency report from one of the following agencies. Candidates should present a detailed document-by-document report that includes a transcript, or a short report.

- World Education Services (WES) http://www.wes.org/ca/

- International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) http://www.bcit.ca/ices/

- International Credential Assessment Service (ICAS ) http://www.icascanada.ca

- Comparative Education Service http://learn.utoronto.ca/ces.htm

 

3. TESL/TEFL training:

Include the following information – institution name and location, dates attended, program completed, and the name and precise address of a contact person, including an email address.

 

4. Practicum information:

Please provide the name of your sponsor teacher, his/her TESL qualifications, his/her contact information including an email address, your practicum supervisor and his/her qualifications and contact information.

Also specify how many hours were spent observing and how many hours were spent teaching under supervision.

Sealed transcripts must be sent to TESL Canada by the applicant or the institution(s).

 

5. Names and detailed descriptions of TESL and relevant Linguistics courses:

Ideally include at least 2 pages of information for each 40 academic contact hours.

At least 100 academic contact hours of this type of documentation is mandatory for a PLAR adjudication.

 

6. Learning Resources:

List of textbooks and other core resources used in your TESL/Applied Linguistics education and training.

 

7. Assessment of Learning:

Description of assessment requirements in your TESL/Applied Linguistics education and training.

 

8. Teaching experience:

List the institutions and locations where you have taught and the courses you have taught for them.

Sealed documents verifying the number of adult ESL teaching hours for Professional Standard One, Two, or Three Permanent and/or for those requesting practicum equivalency must be sent to TESL Canada.

 

9. Performance Reviews:

Two performance reviews for Professional Standard One, Two, or Three Permanent.

One of these must be a classroom observation report.

The reviews must be originals sealed in an envelope with the referee’s signature across the seal.

The names of the referees along with their contact information and institution must be included.

 

10. Other Documentations:

Other documentation that fills any gaps between the contents of your formal academic education in TESL and TESL Canada’s standard descriptors.

Documents may include in-service certificates stating topics and hours; letters from supervisors attesting to workplace training activities; essays from non-TESL courses that demonstrate required knowledge; or items you have created for classroom use such as sample lesson plans, unit plans, curriculum guides, assessment rubrics, handout materials, computer assisted language learning tools, audiotapes, etc.

 

11. Proof of membership in a TESL Canada Provincial/Territorial organization:

This is mandatory if residing in Canada.

Please send your original membership receipt or email from provincial organization indicating that you are a member in good standing.

If residing outside of Canada, a completed International Membership form along with membership fee must be included.

 

WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE PLAR PROCESS?

Step # Role Action
1 Applicant Initial review of PLAR requirements
2 Applicant à PLAR Counsellor PLAR counselling
3 Applicant Application, PLAR fee, and portfolio submission
4 PLAR Counsellor Preliminary PLAR portfolio review and communication
5 Adjudicator Portfolio adjudication
6 PLAR Counsellor Adjudication letter
7 TESL Canada office Issuance of certificate

Initial review of PLAR requirements

An applicant familiarizes him/herself with the PLAR guidelines published on the TESL Canada website and decides if he/she is eligible for PLAR and whether he/she requires counselling.

PLAR counselling

If desired, an applicant may contact the PLAR counsellor for clarification or guidance. The PLAR candidate is provided with additional information or explanation about what the PLAR adjudicator will need in order to carry out an efficient assessment of an applicant’s credentials and experience. The counselling session usually takes place as an email or a phone conversation, followed by a detailed summary from the PLAR counsellor. At this stage a counsellor may be able to determine that a candidate is not eligible for PLAR.

Application, PLAR fee, and portfolio submission

Based on the counselling session and/or review of PLAR requirements, the applicant fills out the application form available on the TESL Canada website, pays the fees, and submits the portfolio as part of the application.

Preliminary portfolio review and communication

The counsellor reviews the portfolio when it arrives to ensure that all necessary documentation has been included. If the portfolio seems complete, the counsellor emails the PLAR applicant to let him/her know the portfolio has arrived and to offer an approximate timeline for completion of the adjudication. If the portfolio has some obvious gaps, the counsellor emails the applicant to discuss the gaps and ways the applicant might be able to fill them. Ideally, the applicant communicates with the PLAR counsellor as soon as possible if the suggested timeline proves impossible and commits to an alternate timeline.

Some gaps in a PLAR portfolio may not be identifiable through a preliminary portfolio review and may only be identified through a thorough review by the adjudication in the next stage.

Portfolio adjudication

The adjudicator thoroughly reviews the portfolio and writes the recommendation to the PLAR counsellor.

Adjudication letter

The counsellor then writes a letter to the applicant stating the recommendation. If the recommendation is that the applicant receive the certification, the TESL Canada certificate will be enclosed. If the recommendation is for interim status, the counsellor includes a line to the effect that the applicant should continue to record experiential hours in preparation for a later permanent status application. If the recommendation is that the applicant not receive certification, the counsellor will include a summary of how the applicant can proceed to fill the remaining gaps.

If the applicant has to fulfil recommendations in order to qualify for certification, he or she does not have to repeat the PLAR process after completing the recommendations. He or she only has to submit documentation of completion to the TESL Canada office, which will review the letter of recommendation to ensure that the new documentation fills the identified gaps, and then issue the appropriate certificate.

Issuance of certificate

Following a successful PLAR adjudication, the TESL Canada office issues the appropriate certificate to the applicant.

TESL Canada PLAR process vs. TESL certification

It should be noted that TESL Canada professional accreditation merely recognizes that a candidate has the minimum required education, training and/or teaching experience at the applicable standard to be employable as an adult ESL instructor in Canada. TESL Canada professional accreditation does not replace or supersede teacher training/education degrees or certificates issues by educational institutions. Applicants are encouraged to review various training programs recognized by TESL Canada and to seek advice whether further education may be required to enhance their employability in specific teaching contexts in Canada and/or internationally.    

    ASSESSMENT OF PORTFOLIOS AGAINST TESL CANADA STANDARDS ONE, TWO, AND THREE

(as per standard descriptors on TESL Canada website) http://www.tesl.ca/certification/certification-standards-descriptors/

Adjudication Rubric

The TESL Canada National Professional Certification Standards are based on level of education, TESL training, teaching experience and positive performance reviews. The following chart indicates the requirements for each Standard.

If an applicant has successfully completed a program not recognized by TESL Canada, the adjudicator uses this chart to determine which standard to award based on PLAR applicant’s documented TESL education and training hours.

 

Name of Standard Requirements
Professional Standard One [Interim]

University degree + 100 hours (methodology and theory) and

A minimum of 20 hours of supervised adult ESL/EFL classroom practicum, consisting of 10 hours of classroom observation and 10 hours of practice teaching. The practice teaching needs to be individual teaching by the applicant, not team teaching, and supervised by a qualified teacher of adult ESL learners in a regular classroom setting of a minimum of 6 ESL learners.

Professional Standard One [Permanent]

University degree + 100 hours (methodology and theory) and

A minimum of 20 hours of supervised adult ESL/EFL classroom practicum, consisting of 10 hours of classroom observation and 10 hours of practice teaching. The practice teaching needs to be individual teaching by the applicant, not team teaching, and supervised by a qualified teacher of adult ESL learners in a regular classroom setting of a minimum of 6 ESL learners.

1,000 hours of teaching experience

Positive performance reviews

Professional Standard Two [Interim]

University degree + 250 hours (methodology and theory) and

A minimum of 50 hours of supervised adult ESL/EFL classroom practicum, consisting of 30 hours of classroom observation and 20 hours of practice teaching.   Classroom observations must be completed in two different settings. Practice teaching needs to be individual teaching by the applicant, not team teaching, and supervised by a qualified teacher of adult ESL learners in a regular classroom setting of a minimum of 6 ESL learners.

Professional Standard Two [Permanent]

University degree + 250 hours (methodology and theory) and

A minimum of 50 hours of supervised adult ESL/EFL classroom practicum, consisting of 30 hours of classroom observation and 20 hours of practice teaching.   Classroom observations must be completed in two different settings. Practice teaching needs to be individual teaching by the applicant, not team teaching, and supervised by a qualified teacher of adult ESL learners in a regular classroom setting of a minimum of 6 ESL learners.

1,500 hrs of teaching experience (500 hours maximum in adult ESL/EFL program administration)

Positive performance reviews

Professional Standard Three [Interim]

Master’s in Applied Linguistics or TESOL and

A minimum of 20 hours of supervised adult ESL/EFL classroom practicum

Professional Standard Three [Permanent]

Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics or TESOL and

A minimum of 20 hours of supervised adult ESL/EFL classroom practicum,

OR

A minimum Professional Standard Two [Interim] plus a Master’s degree in a related field

AND

2,000 hrs of adult ESL/EFL teaching experience (1,000 hours maximum in adult ESL/EFL program administration or adult ESL/EFL teacher training)

Positive performance reviews

 

ASSESSMENT OF PORTFOLIO INTRODUCTION

The introduction should be in 12 point ARIAL font, 250 words or less, and should include a statement outlining candidate’s underlying beliefs about teaching strategies and practices. This statement should summarize the documents in the portfolio and reflect how they exemplify candidate’s abilities, skills, and knowledge.

Quality of language (demonstrated through features including use of standard academic English, varied sentence structure, clear organization), specific examples, and a succinct summary of applicant’s teaching philosophy.

Here is a suggested link to help a candidate with the creation of a portfolio introduction:

https://teachingcenter.wustl.edu/programs/graduate-students-postdocs/applying-for-academic-positions/creating-a-teaching-portfolio/

 

ASSESSMENT OF PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Attestation of hours of professional English language classroom teaching

Include a list of present and prior TESL/TEFL workplaces, their locations, letters signed by program supervisors specifying the number of hours you were in charge of an ESL/EFL classroom, levels and nature of classes taught, and current contact information. Applicants are required to document their hours of professional English language classroom teaching using the following guidelines:

Documented teaching experience must take place in English language classes of 5 or more students consisting of at least 80% adult English language learners of 18 years or older. The applicant must be teaching in a paid not volunteer capacity.

Contact information must include the current name of the educational institution(s), the current postal and email address of the institution as well as the name of the program coordinator who supervised/coordinated the documented teaching hours.

The forms or letters documenting the applicant’s teaching hours and signed by the supervising program coordinator or administrator must provide the dates, the number of teaching hours, the English language level, and nature of the class that was taught by the applicant.

 

Performance reviews

The performance review and the practicum reports must come from two different persons. All performance reviews must be less than five years old and must be submitted by the program coordinator who supervised the applicant’s ESL/EFL workplace and include the following:

An assessment of the applicant’s TEFL/TESL skills with reference to the dates

The number of teaching hours

English language level

The nature of the class taught by the applicant as well as current contact information for the program coordinator and program.

If unable to provide performance reviews, indicate the reason.

 

Practicum reports

The following information must be provided as part of a practicum report:

The sponsor teacher’s and practicum supervisor’s TESL/TEFL qualifications, including information regarding university degrees), years of ESL/EFL teaching, professional accreditation standard and current contact information.

The number of hours spent observing and the number of hours spent teaching under supervision of a qualified teacher of adult ESL.

The dates, the number of teaching hours, the English language level, and the nature of the classes observed or taught during the practicum

The practicum reports must be based on the template below:

See Appendix VII for a sample performance report

 

OTHER POTENTIAL PORTFOLIO INCLUSIONS

In addition to the required documents, a portfolio may also include:

In-service certificates stating topics and hours;

Letters of recommendation from employers;

Letters from supervisors attesting to workplace training activities;

Essays from non-TESL courses that demonstrate required knowledge;

Items the applicant created for classroom use such as sample lesson plans, unit plans, curriculum guides, assessment rubrics, hand-out materials, computer assisted language learning tools, audio files, etc.

 

 

PLAR Application Form