Celebrating 50 Years – History of PLAR Service at TESL Ontario

Image source: TESL Ontario

Allison Keown is the Executive Director of TESL Ontario

TESL Ontario introduced certification for Ontario English language educators in March 2000.  The introduction of this provincial certification helped advance the TESL profession and the TESL Ontario certification swiftly became the sector standard for the hiring of English language educators in Ontario.

2004 – Expanding Access to Language Instructor Certification through PLAR

At a time when language teaching was gaining traction as a valued profession worldwide, internationally trained individuals (ITIs) with significant experience were struggling to obtain certification in Ontario, because their education did not meet the certification standards that had been established.  As a result, these qualified professionals were often having to repeat education that they already possessed, in order to become employable in Ontario.   

Wanting to ensure that all qualified language educators had access to TESL Ontario certification, TESL Ontario began offering certification through Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). In 2004, TESL Ontario entered into an agreement with the University of Saskatchewan (USASK) to provide PLAR assessment to potential applicants.  USASK provided this service to TESL Ontario applicants from 2004 to 2010. 

2010 – TESL Ontario PLAR Assessment Services

In 2010, TESL Ontario developed a credential-based PLAR service that would be offered directly to applicants, eliminating the need for the third-party PLAR service through USASK. This provided applicants with a more streamlined, cost-effective pathway to TESL Ontario certification and allowed TESL Ontario to develop transparent, TESL specific standards for PLAR applicants.   

2018 – Funding for improvements

In 2018, TESL Ontario was granted funding from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) for a 4-year project to modify the current credential-based PLAR service to include competency-and-credit-based assessment tools.   

2022 – Fair and Equitable Access to Language Training Employment Opportunities in Ontario

The new Competency-and-Credit Based PLAR (CCPLAR) service launched in February 2022, and is now available to applicants seeking TESL Ontario certification and professional designations. 

The CCPLAR service provides a more inclusive means to evaluate the suitability of internationally trained individuals (ITIs), improving access to TESL Ontario certification for applicants who have not completed a TESL Ontario accredited training program.  The enhanced CCPLAR process now takes into account an applicant’s competencies in addition to their TESL credentials and teaching experience.   

The CCPLAR application service ensures that ITIs have equitable opportunity to seek employment in their chosen field. It ensures that individuals who have studied TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) in an international setting and gained experience working in the classroom, are offered a way to demonstrate their capacity to enter the English language training profession in Ontario.

For detailed information about the TESL Ontario CCPLAR application process and requirements, please review the Competency-and-Credit Based PLAR Candidate Handbook.

Questions? Contact the TESL Ontario Accreditation Services Manager at accreditation@teslontario.org or by telephone at 416.593.4243 x 205.

Allison is the Executive Director of TESL Ontario, and has been supporting the TESL community for more than 12 years through her role within the organization. She is passionate about engaging with TESL Ontario members and volunteers and working with the community for the betterment of the TESL profession. She has focused her career in not-for-profit management for the past 20 years, building diverse, member-centric, supportive professional communities.


One thought on “Celebrating 50 Years – History of PLAR Service at TESL Ontario”

  1. Thank you, Allison, for this historical overview. I think it’s fantastic that we are making our certification more accesible and equitable. Definitely, a precursor to the current recognition that people’s previous knowledge is worth acknowledging and can be assessed with a mapped and well thought out criteria for teachers of English in Ontario.

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