4 Real-life Applications of a TESOL Minor

Knowledge opens doors to opportunities. For two MBU students and two recent alumna who have established their roots in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), the knowledge they gained from the program has opened doors for them all over the world.  

Established in 2014, MBU’s TESOL minor is still new compared to the university’s other academic programs. But despite its youth, students are already reaping the program’s benefits.  They are trained in linguistics and how to understand and interact with people of other cultures. Here are four real-life applications of students who have used their TESOL education to reach people through language and cultural barriers. 

Sophia Bauman: Teaching English in Brazil

Sophia Bauman, a senior Biblical Counseling major with a TESOL minor, traveled to Brazil this summer to fulfill a portion of her teaching practicum. Hannah and Robynn Reno, two missionaries to Brazil, encouraged Sophia to spend the summer overseas. While there, Sophia spent time teaching English to children of all ages and immersing herself in their culture. She says that the classes she took as a TESOL minor helped her develop her teaching skills and better understand Brazilian culture.  

“Not only did TESOL 1 and 2 prepare me for the classroom, but MBU’s cross-cultural classes helped prepare me for the culture,” Sophia says. “Also, communicating Christ was a fundamental truth in every cross-cultural class at MBU.” 

During her time there, Sophia received the opportunity to share the gospel with children during a Sunday school class she taught in the small village of Jutai. She recalls, “Robynn asked me to share my testimony. I got to witness the gospel across cultural boundaries and touch those children’s hearts. It was beautiful.” 

Concerning her plans after college, Sophia remains uncertain about her future, but she knows that TESOL will play a part in how she will impact the world.  

“From the very beginning I have wanted to travel. I have no clue where or for how long, but I love that TESOL has given me incredible opportunities to do what I love,” she says. “Whether that is teaching abroad, building my own ESL program at church, or teaching online, I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.” 

Anna Andrews: Overcoming Boundaries with TESOL

Anna Andrews, a 2020 graduate in Educational Studies, has used her education from MBU and her passion for TESOL to reach children in China. Although she did not minor in TESOL specifically, she took Linguistics—a class centered upon learning about language. She received her ESL Certification through a separate online course around the time she graduated from MBU. Only a few weeks later, Anna received her first TESOL job—teaching English virtually to students in China through a company called EF Kids Teach Online. 

“My students attend in-person classes at EF’s brick-and-mortar schools in China a couple of times each week, and then they come to me for 25-minute reviews of the concepts they worked on in class and to focus on concepts they might be struggling with,” she explains. “I teach mostly basic grammar, but I also work with my students on reading, listening, and phonics skills as well.” 

Anna states that many of the concepts covered in the ESL Certification course were also covered in MBU’s education classes.  “In Linguistics class, we learned to think about how we make different sounds as we speak, and that understanding has helped me tremendously in showing my students how to shape their mouths to form English sounds,” Anna recalls. 

Concerning future plans, Anna is still unsure where God will take her next, but she hopes to eventually take her TESOL skills abroad.  

“I would still like to teach online for a while because I enjoy the flexibility and the mobility that working from home gives me, but I think it would be wonderful to use this skill on the mission field at some point,” she says.  

Abby Garren: A Multi-Cultural Experience

Graduating senior Abby Garren has always had a passion for learning about different cultures. As a TESOL minor, she was able to expand upon her love for other cultures through the opportunities the program provided. To fulfill her required practicum, Abby accepted a teaching internship the summer before her senior year in her home province of Nova Scotia, Canada. 

“I got in touch with several language schools in Nova Scotia,” she says. “The one that got back to me was in Lunenburg, about two hours from my hometown. They regularly post internships for TESOL programs in Nova Scotia, and they said they could take me, too.” 

Because COVID restrictions are tighter in Canada than in the United States, Abby completed her internship entirely online; she taught intermediate and advanced English to adults through Zoom. Abby soon discovered that being online allowed her to connect with people from an array of different cultures. 

“Because we were online, [the students] came from literally all over the world,” Abby explains. “We had students from South America—from Brazil and Chile. We also had people from Syria and Belarus. There were several students from South Korea as well.” 

During her lesson, Abby followed a curriculum provided by the school, but she was free to supplement the lessons with her own icebreakers and class assignments.  Abby used the skills she had learned in her TESOL classes to build a complete lesson plan for her students.  

“I think the most helpful aspect of my minor were the classes centered on methods in teaching TESOL,” Abby says. “We had to make a lot of lesson plans, and that really helped.” 

The school was so impressed with Abby’s teaching that the owner of the institution asked her to stay on for the rest of the summer. When she signed on, they gave her the opportunity to lead a teen camp in Lunenburg.  

She counseled four Japanese girls, teaching them English in the morning and taking them on tours of Nova Scotia in the afternoon. The camp provided a way for Abby to make close friends with her campers and expand her skills as a TESOL educator. “I had to make all the lesson plans and organize all the outings,” Abby comments. “I also had opportunities to witness to them, and that was great.” 

Abby accepted a position at Dublin Christian Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire. There, she plans to help expand the institution’s ESL program to accommodate the growing number of foreign students at the school.  

“It’s just very exciting to know that God made this option so clear, and I know this is where He wants me to be,” she says. 

Sierra Barta: Making an Impact in Germany

Recent graduate Sierra Barta has used her TESOL education in a unique way. She has always had a passion for traveling and reaching other cultures, and TESOL has provided an avenue for her to accomplish that purpose. 

During her time in college, Sierra went on a summer trip with a group of students to Southeast Asia through Global Encounters. During her time there, she participated in an English-immersion camp, working with young people to develop their English literacy skills. 

“We got a lot of great hands-on experience, not only using curriculum and teaching the students in a classroom but also interacting with them in small groups,” Sierra says. “We got to lead discussions, have conversations with the students, and help them gain confidence in speaking English.” 

After she graduated from MBU, Sierra had planned to go back to Southeast Asia to continue teaching English, but due to COVID-19, that opportunity unexpectedly closed. Instead, she decided to move back with her family, who were living on a military base in Germany because of her father’s current military assignment.  

Though the door to Southeast Asia had closed, Sierra received a unique opportunity to intern with the European Command Center on-base. During the summer, she interned for the Communication Synchronization Division (CSD), working with a team to coordinate US Military efforts, NATO, and other situations within European countries.  

“My internship had a lot to do with cross-cultural communications,” Sierra explains. “My knowledge and study of different cultures from my cross-cultural studies classes tied in really well [with what I was doing]. It goes back to the awareness that you gain from studying those cultures. You have to try to understand people who have very different priorities and perspectives than you do.” 

Sierra also found that understanding those priorities helped her work better with her team, enabling them to accomplish tasks and work toward viable solutions. In total, she interned with the European Command Center for three months, building her cross-cultural skills and learning that different cultures often have different goals and perspectives. 

After her internship ended, Sierra had initially planned to travel to South Korea to teach English for a year, but God closed that door unexpectedly. Instead, she has recently been offered a permanent position with the military through her internship. 

While Sierra looks forward to the opportunity God has provided her with the military, she still hopes to travel back to Southeast Asia in the future to teach English. 

“I will always be looking for opportunities to go back to Asia,” she says. “I feel like God has laid the whole region of Asia on my heart. I don’t know how He will use that in my life, but I’m hoping that, one day, I will be able to go back to Asia and teach English.” 

To learn more about MBU’s TESOL program, click here.