Advanced TESOL Qualification – SQA PDA TESOL APS [16ECTS]

The SQA ‘Professional Development Award in TESOL Applied Practitioner Studies’ ( Advanced TESOL Qualification)

Upcoming course dates: 

Course dates to be announced – January 2016

Image result for graduate image

TTI are delighted to offer the SQA PDA TESOL APS (with TP certified by TTI only) an SQCF level 10 (honour’s degree level) Advanced TESOL Qualification available in Ireland. The PDA TESOL APS is a Scottish Qualification Authority (an OfQual-accredited awarding body) 16ECTS UK award that sits on the UK ELT CPD framework halfway between the CELTA (SQCF level 9/TEFL-I) and the DELTA/TCL Dip TESOL (SQCF level 11). The PDA TESOL APS is an affordable CPD option for busy CELT-qualified teachers to gain full professional status, it is also the next step on the CPD framework, hence a logical and progressive pathway from CELT to TCL DipTESOL/DELTA.

TEFL-Q status is used in the UK as the benchmark for professional ELT practitioners in English-speaking countries and in British Council schools abroad. TEFLQ status may be attained when the SQA PDA TESOL APS is taken with TP. TTI are offering a TTI certified TP component with this award. It is likely that a full professional ELT qualification will become the desired standard for TEFL teachers in Ireland as the sector becomes professionalised in the future; this is already the case in the UK. UK Academic Managers and DOSs are required to hold a TEFLQ qualification under the British Council regulations.

The PDA TESOL APS is designed for experienced TEFL teachers (2 years +) who wish to enhance their skills and career opportunities and move into senior positions such as: DOS, ADOS, TEFL trainer, syllabus designer, examiner, college EAP trainer, etc.

The PDA TESOL APS has four components: a double unit focussed on language awareness (discourse, phonology, grammar, lexis, etc.); a syllabus design single unit; and a single unit on assessment. There is, in addition, a TP component (6 hours) which may be completed with teachers’ own classes.

The PDA TESOL APS is a practical, task-based and reflective programme that seeks to deliver significant development in teacher confidence, skills, and performance to graduates. The course is offered as a 24 week, part-time, blended programme with face-to-face sessions delivered over nine, full-day (7 hour) Saturday sessions in addition to classroom research, webinars with tests, required reading texts, online tasks and discussion forums with mandatory posts and comments.

TP components may be undertaken in the teacher’s own regular classes. The TTI-certified TP component is assessed at a higher level than CELTA-type TP to reflect the Advanced level of the course and includes an assessment aspect.

Assignments include a 90-min language awareness exam; a 15-min methodology presentation; a 1,500 word essay on assessment and a practical project on assessment; a 1,500 words essay on syllabus design and a syllabus design project for a short programme. The course entails a blend of theoretical research, classroom practical research and task-based reflective group work. As this award is at SQCF level 10, referenced to honours degree level, assignments will be assessed at this level of sophistication in terms of critical thinking and academic literacy.

Course fee: €1,400 including TP.


PDA TESOL Applied Practitioner Studies – an Advanced TESOL Qualification:

The PDA in Applied Practitioner Studies in TESOL (with TP) is an in-service (CPD/TEFLQ) course for candidates who have two plus year’s, full-time (min 1500 hours) English Language teaching experience. The training equips graduates with the enhanced skills and knowledge needed to take up more senior posts as EFL/ESL/ESOL teachers and gives them further skills for self-evaluation and further professional development. Candidates who successfully complete the course are qualified to apply for a variety of more senior EFL/ESL/ESOL teaching contexts around the world, e.g. DOS, ADOS, Teacher trainer, Senior Teacher.

Accreditation & recognition

The PDA in Applied Practitioner Studies in TESOL is accredited by SQA, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (a UK national awarding body), an OfQual accredited accreditation provider. The PDA in Applied Practitioner Studies in TESOL is accredited on the SQCF at level 10 which is equivalent to an EQF level 6 and an NFQ (Ireland) level 8, commonly referenced to an honours degree level. Candidates must provide TEFI (CELT/CELTA) certification and evidence of teaching experience to TTI to assess their suitability for the programme. Candidates will usually have completed studies at SQCF level 9 or 10 e.g. they will typically hold an honours degree or higher from a recognised third level institution. Candidates who do not hold a degree will be required to demonstrate that they have the academic competencies, in a pre-course task and at interview, to assess suitability for the course.

The PDA in Applied Practitioner Studies in TESOL (SQCF level 10) is an internationally recognised post-initial ELT (CELT, etc.) award. SQA have categorised the PDA TESOL APS as an Advanced TESOL Qualification along with higher the Trinity College London Dip TESOL (SQCF level 11) and the DELTA (SQCF level 11).

The PDA in Applied Practitioner Studies in TESOL is internally assessed by TTI and externally moderated by SQA.

Course aims

The overarching aims are to:

  • Provide relevant and coherent professional development opportunities for ELT practitioners working in a range of ELT contexts and settings.
  • Enable the ELT practitioner to develop in-depth theoretical knowledge of how the English language works and its application within ELT teaching and learning.
  • Enable the ELT practitioner to critically explore and reflect on English language issues (eg of a social, political and linguistic nature) that have an impact on ELT teaching and learning.
  • Develop subject specialist knowledge, critical to contextualised ELT planning delivery, assessment and evaluation.
  • Develop the ELT practitioner’s analytical and critical skills in ELT planning, delivery, assessment and evaluation.
  • Develop expertise in designing and delivering learning programmes to meet the diverse English language learning needs of learners in a variety of settings and contexts.
  • Develop practical approaches, strategies and techniques to deliver ELT at different levels and to meet a variety of English language learning needs.

Course contents

The PDA in Applied Practitioner Studies in TESOL is designed for candidates already delivering ELT in a variety of teaching contexts. Candidates will already have completed an initial TESOL/ELT qualification – e.g. ACELS CELT or CELTA. The award is designed to enable candidates to further develop their knowledge and skills within ELT. It provides both vertical and horizontal progression, facilitating the effective planning, delivery, assessment and evaluation of ELT.

The Award seeks to provide specialist knowledge and skills, which firstly, build on those gained in initial ELT qualifications, and secondly, are required for ELT practitioners to work effectively and independently. The learner-centred (social practice) approach embedded throughout the award develops the candidate’s awareness of the need for the learner to be an active participant in the learning cycle, ensuring that ELT is relevant and meaningful to learners’ lives.

The principal context will be an EFL/ESOL teaching environment, e.g. an ACELS/QQI accredited ELT provider. Candidates will need access to a classroom environment, which enables them to work with authentic EFL/ESOL learners. TTI may assist trainees with classroom access where the candidate is not currently working with EFL/ESOL learners.

The mandatory Units focus on:

  • an in-depth analysis of language related issues and the English language system, and their application within contextualised EFL/ESOL teaching and learning, essential in enabling ELT practitioners to deliver EFL/ESOL confidently and effectively.
  • a critical analysis of ELT assessment principles and processes, and practices in both the design and implementation of ELT assessment within national ESOL frameworks, an essential part of ELT delivery in many current national contexts.

The optional Units focus on:

  • a critical analysis of ELT syllabus design, and the development of knowledge and skills to design effective, contextualised syllabuses which, crucially, take account of learner needs, goals and aspirations.
  • theoretical and practical development in ESOL literacies teaching and learning, focusing on ESOL literacies learning needs, approaches and practices, enabling practitioners to identify, diagnostically assess, design learning programmes for, and plan and deliver lessons for, ESOL literacies learners.


Course Duration

The part-time PDA in Applied Practitioner Studies in TESOL is equivalent to 160 contact hours in duration delivered over 16 weeks. The overall time required to complete the course is conservatively estimated at 300+ hours.

Course components

Input sessions (mix of training and group workshops)

Trainer presentations

Trainee self-access research and reading

Webinars with assessment

Trainer-directed assignments and assignment preparation

Online, moderated discussion forums on each module component, to support F2F sessions.


Candidate entry requirements

Candidates must be a minimum of 21 years of age at the commencement of the course and demonstrate that they have the minimum study skills and language competence to undertake the course:

Candidates should as a minimum academic standard have at least completed tertiary education (ordinary degree) and demonstrate that they have the minimum study skills required to complete the course and course work.

Non-native speakers of English are required to have attained at least an IELTS band 8 or a pass grade at Cambridge Proficiency.

Course fees

A deposit of €150 is payable upon application, the remainder of the course fee is payable two weeks prior to the start date of the course to secure a place. Course fees may vary slightly see the website for details.

Course times/location

The extensive/part-time course takes place every Saturday from approximately 09.00 to 17.00 at the appointed seminar facility. Typically seminar facilities will be an on-campus seminar room, an EFL School classroom or at the Teacher’s Club, 36-37 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1.


TTI can be contacted by phone on 085 1080435 or by email on Each trainer has a dedicated email that will be given to you as required, the format is as follows: e.g.

Course Staff

All TTI trainers are highly experienced senior ELT professionals with a level 9 qualification (Diploma/Masters) in ELT/EFL and/or Director of Studies status in ACELS accredited schools.

The TTI administrator is Caroline McGrath; the PDA in Applied Practitioner Studies in TESOL programme Director is Niall O’Riordan and the Internal Verifier is Edyta English.

Seminar Rooms

Please remember to leave the rooms as you would expect to find them and ensure that you remove all your belongings afterwards.

Resources & materials

Candidates are provided with their own library of PDF resources and TTI course notes throughout the course to accompany each input session.

Assessment & Assignments

Candidates are required to complete core assignments during the course which contribute to the final grade, there are also short in-session group tasks and online exercises to support the delivery of the course material. The assignments are set during the course. Candidates will have an assignment support in the input session when the assignment is set, ensure that you pay close attention and participate fully in the workshop. Candidates will be given guidance and support/reference materials to assist you in completing the assignments. The assignments cover the core skills and techniques that candidates will rely upon as a teacher. Assignments are submitted by email attachment.

The mandatory assignments are:

  1. An independently researched oral seminar presentation.
  2. A 90-minute test on issues concerning language awareness in ELT, e.g. grammar, lexis and phonology.
  3. A discourse analysis of a written or spoken text with the identification of one aspect of the text to be used with a specific group of learners.
  4. A reflective report of assessment types.
  5. Conduct a summative assessment of productive skills – spoken and written – with two learners at different levels, including a reflective report and documentation of results.
  6. Design a receptive skills assessment instrument for a specific syllabus unit and a report on the design and evaluation process.

The optional assignments are:

  1. A critical analysis of a theories and approaches to syllabus design.
  2. Design a syllabus for a short learning programme for a specific group of learners, including a syllabus rationale, a group profile, a scheme of work, resources, and a sample lesson plan.


  1. A portfolio including: a lesarner profile, an initial diagnostic assessment, an ILP (Individual Learning Plan), and two lesson plans with accompanying resources, delivery of the two lessons and a reflective account of those lessons. Candidates who successfully complete the course requirements are awarded the SQA PDA TESOL in addition TTI award one of the following grades on their end-of-course report: Distinction, Merit, Approved or Pass.

Attendance requirement

100% attendance at face-to-face input sessions sessions is required.


Each candidate will have an opportunity during the course to meet one-to-one with a trainer to discuss their progress.