Adult ESL Teacher Accreditation Application through PLAR

TESL Ontario Adult ESL Teacher Certificate of Accreditation, International Certificate in Teaching English as an Additional Language (ICTEAL), and OCELT Professional Designation

I. Introduction


TESL Ontario, established in 1972, is a non-profit organization serving the needs of teachers of English as a Second Language. It represents more than 4,600 language training professionals and is instrumental in influencing the success of many thousands of English language learners throughout the province. TESL Ontario’s expertise is in teaching, advocacy, accreditation, and professional development.

TESL Ontario accredited instructors have distinct knowledge and skills specific to teaching adult ESL. They belong to a community of highly educated, responsible and committed professionals who seek to further the best interests of the learners. They constantly strive for excellence through academic inquiry, self-reflection, openness to new ideas and ongoing professional development. As a result, TESL Ontario Language Instructor Certificate of Accreditation has become the industry norm in Ontario, and TESL Ontario accredited instructors are being hired by ESL instruction providers in both publicly-funded and privately-funded sectors.


The TESL Ontario certificate has been designed for individuals interested in teaching in adult ESL programs in Ontario, other Canadian provinces, and other countries including:

  • Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
  • Adult ESL- offered by school boards
  • Citizenship and Language (CL)
  • Specialized Language Training (SLT)
  • Enhanced Language Training (ELT)
  • Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT)
  • English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and ESL offered by colleges, universities, and private schools
  • English Language Proficiency (ELP) Test Preparation (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)
  • English as a Foreign Language (EFL)

Employers of TESL Ontario Accredited Instructors

TESL Ontario accredited instructors are being hired by a wide range of employers including:

•    School Boards •    Universities
•    Settlement /Immigrant Service Agencies •    Private Career Colleges
•    Welcome Centres •    Private Language Schools
•    Community Colleges •    International Language Schools

More information about employers can be found at the following links:

•    LINC Classes in Ontario •    Private Career College Search Service
•    ESL Classes in Ontario •    TESLOntario Job Board
•    Ontario Colleges •    TESLOntario Volunteer Job Board

Annual Renewal

TESL Ontario Language Instructor Certificate of Accreditation is an annual renewal. Accredited language instructors are required to engage in a minimum of 10 hours of professional development (PD) activities per accreditation year and retain the proof on file. The annual renewal fee is $154.00.


Any applicant who is denied the TESL Ontario accreditation/approval shall have the right to appeal the decision to the TESL Ontario Appeals Committee within three months from the date the decision has been made. Please be aware that the degree and English language proficiency (ELP) requirements of the TESL Ontario accreditation/ approval are "non-appealable" requisites. For details about filing an appeal, please go to Appeals.

Top of Page

II. PLAR Eligibility Standard

Accreditation on the basis of demonstrated teaching skill and knowledge is an important area of professional practice in Canada, especially in the province of Ontario where a very substantial share of Canada’s new immigrant and refugee population settles each year.  The TESL Ontario portfolio-based PLAR assessment gives applicants an official statement of exactly what gaps exist between their previous TESL training (and ESL teaching experience) and TESL Ontario's required courses and practicum. 

As a result, PLAR assessment applicants will be required to go through the additional TESL courses and practicum needed to qualify for the TESL Ontario Language Instructor Certificate of Accreditation. All additional training required (up to 200 hours of theory, methodology, and practicum courses) must be completed through TESL Ontario accredited TESL training programs (

You are eligible to apply for TESL Ontario accreditation through PLAR assessment if you
1. meet the degree and English language proficiency requirements of TESL Ontario accreditation (as outlined below);
2. have completed a minimum of 150 hours of formal TESL training through recognized TESL certificate or degree programs in Canada and/or overseas
(A recognized program is a program that is officially registered with a ministry or another government agency, or is recognized by a registered accreditation organization.)
3. have engaged in TESL-related professional development activities on a regular basis through participation in in-service training courses, conferences, seminars, webinars, workshops, research projects, etc. and
4. have documented adult ESL/EFL teaching experience.

Please note that eligible PLAR applicants may still be required to go through up to 200 hours of additional theory, methodology, and practicum courses through TESL Ontario accredited programs to qualify for TESL Ontario accreditation. The required additional training will be determined once the PLAR assessment process is completed.

Top of Page

University Degree:

Applicants are required to hold a minimum three-year bachelor’s degree, or a graduate degree, from an accredited institution located in Canada or a basic, general, or document-by-document Canadian degree equivalency report for degrees obtained from accredited institutions located outside Canada. The equivalency report must indicate that the evaluated international degree is equivalent to a minimum three-year Bachelor’s degree, or a graduate degree from an accredited institution in Canada.

TESL Ontario considers degree equivalency reports prepared by any one of the members of the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada (ACESC) including the following agencies:

For a complete list of ACESC members, please go to

Proof of English Language Proficiency (ELP):

If you have studied on-site full time to complete a minimum three year degree program with English as the language of instruction in one of the countries listed below, your degree or official transcript or Canadian equivalency report is your proof of ELP.  Please note that in some cases, transcripts may be requested to determine the length of the program.

Canada Benin Ghana Republic of Ireland Turks and Caicos Islands
Anguilla Bermuda Grenada Saint Kitts-Nevis Seychelles United Kingdom
Antigua and Barbuda Botswana Guyana Sierra Leone United States
Australia British Virgin Islands Jamaica South Africa Uganda
Bahamas Cayman Islands Montserrat St. Lucia US Virgin Islands
Barbados Cameroon Nigeria St. Vincent Zambia
Belize Dominica New Zealand Trinidad and Tobago Zimbabwe

OR if you have completed a minimum three year online/distance degree program with English as the language of instruction in one of the countries listed above, a combination of your degree or official transcript or Canadian equivalency report and an ELP test report indicating the scores required for speaking and writing  skills, as shown in the table below, is your proof of ELP,

OR if you have not completed a minimum three year degree program in one of the countries listed above, you should take an ELP test and meet the required scores as specified in the table below. Please note that TESL Ontario accepts a combination of two test reports (for the same ELP test taken twice or for two different ELP tests) indicating that all required scores have been met. Also, TESL Ontario accepts ELP test reports up to 5 years after the test date. Test reports older than 5 years are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Recognized ELP Tests Required Scores
IELTS-Academic         Listening: 7  Reading: 7  Writing: 7  Speaking: 7
CanTEST          Listening: 4.5  Reading: 4.5  Writing: 4.5  Speaking: 4.5
CAEL         Listening: 70  Reading: 70  Writing: 70  Speaking: 70
TOEFL iBT       Listening: 24  Reading: 24  Writing: 27  Speaking: 24


The MELAB test was discontinued in June 2018. However, TESL Ontario still considers score reports distributed by Michigan Language Assessment.  

    Listening: 87  GCVR: 87  Writing: 87  Speaking: 4-

OR if, prior to doing  your university education,  you have completed grades 6-12 (each grade completed in one full school year) with English as the language of instruction in one of the countries listed above, your grade 6-12 report cards are your proof of ELP.

Top of Page

III. Getting Photocopies Authorized

The individuals/parties listed below may authorize photocopies of your original documents:

In Canada: a TESL Ontario staff member (when submitting your application to the TESL Ontario Office in person), notary public, commissioner of oath, lawyer, senior university/college officer or professor, public school principal, signing officer of a bank, medical doctor, minister of religion, or police officer.

Outside Canada: the Canadian Embassy or the Consulate

Authorization by other officials may be accepted.  Please contact TESL Ontario at

Please provide the authorizing party with an accurate photocopy when you show the original document. The authorization should include the authorizing party's full name, title, address, telephone number, signature, date, and a statement to this effect: "This is a true copy of the original."

Top of Page

IV. Required Documents (PLAR Portfolio)

You are required to submit a PLAR portfolio containing the documents listed below to TESL Ontario by mail or in person. Upon receipt, your PLAR portfolio becomes property of TESL Ontario; it will not be returned and cannot be picked up from the TESL Ontario Office.

All documents must be in English.

Your PLAR portfolio must be delivered in a soft cover binder or folder with tabs indicating the following 8 sections.  Please do not use plastic sheet protectors or bulky binders.

Poorly organized portfolios will not be accepted.

1.  Application Form

  • completed and signed Application Form A-2: Language Instructor Accreditation through PLAR
  • original of authorized photocopy of proof of name change if your documents carry different names

2. Proof of University Degree:

  • original or authorized photocopy of your university degree or its official transcript indicating that the degree has been conferred OR Canadian degree equivalency report if your degree is from a university located outside Canada

3. Proof of English Language Proficiency:

  • original or authorized copy of proof of English language proficiency, as applicable

4. Proof of Formal TESL-related Training:

5.  CLB (Canadian Language Benchmarks) Bootcamp Certificate

  • If you have not completed the online CLB Bootcamp or equivalent training, please contact the TESL Ontario Office at for instructions. The online CLB Bootcamp is free.

6. Proof of Professional Development (PD)

  • documents (e.g., conference certificates and confirmation letters) attesting to your participation in TESL-related in-service training, workshops, webinars, research projects, etc.

7. Resume and Employment Confirmation Letters

  • up-to-date resume with a focus on adult ESL/EFL teaching experience
  • employment confirmation letters attesting to the ESL/EFL classes/programs taught, teaching dates, and total number of hours

8. Three Lesson Plans and Accompanying Material:

  • three lesson plans and accompanying material prepared by the PLAR applicant for three different contexts such as Adult ESL, LINC, EAP, Language Proficiency Test Preparation, Business English, Academic Writing,  Pronunciation, etc. Each lesson plan must cover a class of 1.5-3 hours.

Additional Supporting Material

Please note that TESL Ontario may request additional material, in which case the PLAR assessment process may take longer. Some examples of additional material that may be requested are as follows:

  • TESL course descriptions and course outlines
  • proof of practicum (observation & practice teaching)
  • copies of articles authored by the applicant
  • copies of textbooks published or reviewed by the applicant

Top of Page

V. Fees

For current TESL Ontario standard members applying for accreditation through PLAR:

  • PLAR Assessment Fee: $280.00 + HST
  • Pro-rated Accredited Membership Fee* + HST (a maximum of $80 + HST)

For all other accreditation-through-PLAR applicants:

  • PLAR Assessment Fee: $280.00 + HST
  • Annual Accredited Membership Fee: $154.00 + HST

*For current members, the pro-rated accredited membership fee - a maximum of $80.00+HST - will cover the period starting from the date a standard member is accredited to their standard membership renewal month.

Method of Payment: If paying by cheque, please write a separate cheque (payable to TESL Ontario)
for each required fee. If paying by VISA or MasterCard or American Express, please write your credit card number and expiry date on the application form (Please note that other credit cards are not accepted). You can also pay by cash in person at the TESL Ontario Office.

Top of Page

VI. Application Process Steps

  1. Print and fill out the Language Instructor Accreditation through PLAR Application Form A-2.
  1. Mail or deliver the required PLAR Portfolio to TESL Ontario (27 Carlton Street, Suite 405, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1L2). Your portfolio becomes the property of TESL Ontario upon receipt. It will not be returned and cannot be picked up from the TESL Ontario Office.
  1. In a maximum of two months from the date all required documents and fees have been received, your PLAR portfolio will be reviewed and you will be informed of the results by email.
  1. TESL Ontario will keep your PLAR portfolio for three months after you have been sent the results of the adjudication.  At that time, your portfolio will be disposed of although your file will remain open until you have completed any additional course work that is required.

Please Note!

For operational reasons, TESL Ontario reserves the right to extend the application processing time, as necessary. TESL Ontario may request additional documentation beyond the requirements described above. All submitted documentation and information will be kept confidential. We strongly recommend that you keep photocopies of all submitted forms and documents for your own records. The requirements of the TESL Ontario Language Instructor Accreditation and PLAR assessment may change without notice. If you do not meet all of the requirements for accreditation, TESL Ontario will send you an email specifying the additional steps you need to take.

Top of Page

Questions? Please contact TESL Ontario by email at or by phone at 416-593-4243, Ext. 205.