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Classroom Observations

Many TESOL courses require classroom observations. Depending on your professor's requirements, you may choose to observe several classes in one context (e.g., adult education) or in several different contexts (e.g, EAP, IEP, literacy-level, etc.). After you have decided what you want to observe, choose several ESL programs/schools from the list of possible observation sites. While reviewing the programs for observations and before contacting the programs, please review programs' observation requirements. Some programs require observation forms be filled out and e-mailed to their contact staff. Please make sure to contact the programs at least a week in advance to set up your observations (refer to Observation Site Chart for specific observation request deadlines).

Once you have chosen the programs for observations and have identified class times and dates, contact the program coordinators via e-mail. In your e-mail, introduce yourself and briefly describe your reasons for wanting to observe. Also, suggest several dates and times you would like to observe their classes. The program coordinator will respond to you with times and classes you can observe.

When setting up your observations and while observing, please keep in mind that you represent the TESOL Program, American University, and the TESOL profession. Thus, you are expected to behave in a professional manner by respecting and following the procedures these institutions require.

Please arrive to the observation site 10 minutes early, introduce yourself to the teacher, and respect the school's policies, directions, and operating procedures. Unless you have expressly arranged something different, you should stay for the whole class, and be sure to thank the teacher at the end.

During the observation, it is not necessary to tell the teacher exactly what aspects of teaching you will be focusing on in your observation, but you may want to mention which graduate course you are observing this class for and why you have chosen this particular institution. If the teacher asks you for feedback after the observation, and you choose to give some, please keep it respectful even if you disagree with anything the teacher has done. Your comments and opinions about the lesson can be included in your observation report.

Remember to send a thank-you e-mail to the teacher and administrators after your observation. Also, please fill out the TESOL program observation form. The program will send an official thank you note to the ESL administration and teachers.


The TESL-620: English Language Teaching III course consists of two components: (1) a seminar and (2) a practicum. The seminar component of TESL-620: English Language Teaching III is considered a capstone course, in which students demonstrate their understanding of and ability to apply the main theories presented throughout the MA program. The practicum component is designed to provide TESOL students with a venue to practice instructional techniques, gain further confidence in their teaching, and receive constructive and extensive feedback on their teaching from their host instructor and TESL-620 professor. 

Students who are teaching in ESL programs on a full-time or part-time basis do not require an additional practicum placement. However, they are required to complete all TESL-620 assignments within their own teaching context.

Practicum placements are arranged by the TESOL Program Director, but students may also request their own placements if they wish. All practicum placements must be approved by the TESOL Program Director. The Program Director coordinates the introductions between the Host Instructor and the Practicum Student and explains practicum procedures and requirements; discusses both parties' expectations; and addresses any concerns that the Host Instructor and/or Practicum Student might have. Often, this introductory meeting happens via email. In instances when an ESL program hosts several TESOL students for practicum with different host instructors, the Program Director arranges a practicum orientation meeting that usually takes place at the practicum site either a week before Fall classes start or during the first week of class.

Note: The TESOL Program does not place Practicum Students in public or private K-12 schools.

For more detailed information about the Teaching Practicum requirements and procedures, please refer to the TESOL Practicum Handbook.


Please find the following downloadable documents in the Practicum and Observations folder (on OneDrive):

  • Observation Site Chart
  • Observation Form Template
  • TESOL Practicum Handbook