TESOL program produces next generation of ESL teachers

The Department of World Languages and Cultures has begun offering a TESOL certification.

File Photo/The Lion's Roar

The Department of World Languages and Cultures has begun offering a TESOL certification.

The TESOL program, otherwise known as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program, provides its graduates with a certificate that authorizes them to teach English as a second language in the United States and abroad.

Southeastern’s TESOL program is headed by Dr. Jerry Parker, the director of Southeastern’s Foreign Language Resource Center and an instructor of French and Spanish.

According to Parker, the program is part of the Department of World Languages and Cultures, and when the department launched the Bachelor of Arts in World Languages in late 2018, they sought but were unable to include the TESOL certificate in the degree.

However, the program found a solution. “The board of regents came out with undergraduate certificates at the same exact time, so we came up with the idea of making it an undergraduate certificate instead of putting it in our degree,” said Parker.

The TESOL certificate is flexible regarding how it may be incorporated into a student’s academic schedule.

“I have had some students do it in two semesters. I have had some students just add it into their course layout, one class a semester. These are your electives, if you want to walk out with your bachelors degree and your TESOL certificate, you can do that,” said Parker.

TESOL can open the world for students. For example, Parker stated next summer there are plans for a study abroad program going to Japan where students will do TESOL work.

Jessie Weidner, a general studies major completing her TESOL certificate, said she is planning to fully utilize the qualification abroad. In her youth, she traveled through Europe, South America, Central America and China, which served as the inspiration for her studies.

“I loved being able to communicate with people from other cultures,” Weidner said.

She said she felt a special connection to Chinese culture; in fact, her husband spent much of his childhood in the country.

The couple plans to move to China as the TESOL certificate is a prerequisite for attaining a visa.

She stated this was the impetus for her pursuing the certificate, but she has always loved teaching and currently does so at an after school program.

“I love teaching English to people who don’t know it, it is something I actually did want to do,” Weidner added.

Weidner said she plans to start a school in the future and use her TESOL certificate to teach.

The Department of World Languages and Cultures will host an information session for the TESOL certificate at 6 p.m. on March 29 in Student Union room 2207, for those who are interested.