Learn. Observe. Apply: Studying TESOL at Maranatha Baptist University

It all started with a burden. Angela Morris’s burden to reach the Hispanic community in Watertown, WI. But how was she going to cross the language barrier? Then, Morris heard about TESOL, or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This program would enable her to cross that language barrier and start an ESL (English as a Second Language) class in her church.

After receiving training in teaching English as a second language, she saw an opportunity to start a TESOL program at Maranatha Baptist University to give students the opportunity to reach the world by teaching a language they already know. The TESOL minor at Maranatha has been going strong now for four years.

Learn. Observe. Apply.

The TESOL program is built around three stages. Learn. Observe. Apply. In the learning stage, students focus on pedagogy techniques that enable them to cross language barriers. “It is ideal if you speak your students’ language, but even if you don’t, there are skill sets that you learn to teach them the English language,” says program director Angela Morris.

MBU students take required courses in grammar, cross-cultural studies, and pedagogy. “You have to know grammar and English, but you also have to know how to teach it to speakers of other languages,” Morris says.

That’s where the observe stage comes in. In addition to learning theories in the classroom, students observe experienced TESOL teachers in the classroom. The program requires 40 hours of ESL classroom observation. These observations show students the difference between teaching English to native English speakers and speakers of other languages.

In the last stage of the program, students put their skills to the test in an ESL practicum. “It’s one thing to know the theory,” Morris says. “It’s another thing to know how to apply the theory.”

TESOL students have the opportunity to travel all over the world to complete this practicum. Some have taught English in China, Guam, Germany, and even inner city Boston. Through this experience, students gain cross-cultural experience and refine their teaching skills all at the same time.

MBU offers TESOL as a minor that can complement almost any degree, and program director Angela Morris loves to recruit students from all majors. Many students have heard her favorite tag-line “You should consider that maybe TESOL is God’s will for your life!” The minor works especially well for Education majors, but Business, English, Humanities, and even Music majors benefit from the program.

The MBU education gives them the tools they need to teach an ESL class. But the TESOL program’s real goal is to prepare students to obtain CELTA certification.

The Golden Ticket

CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) is a globally recognized degree from Cambridge University. For aspiring English teachers, CELTA certification is the golden ticket to any country in the world.

“There are countries that will not take you as an English teacher unless you are CELTA certified” says Morris. But getting that golden ticket is not easy. The highly intensive one-month program could be described as final exams on steroids. The program includes classroom instruction, written assignments, and teaching experience. Recently, three MBU graduates travelled to Hungary and successfully completed their CELTA certification while abroad: thus gaining a double lesson in ESL training and cultural immersion.

Morris structures the MBU TESOL minor to prepare students to succeed in CELTA courses. So far, MBU students boast a 100 percent pass rate in the CELTA program.

Once students get that golden ticket, the world’s doors open wide. With a college degree, CELTA certification, and a little bit of experience, there is a greater percent chance that Cambridge can help place their graduates anywhere in the world.

Reaching the World through TESOL

It’s no secret that the world is shrinking, and English is becoming an international language. People need English to communicate with coworkers, doctors, cashiers, or even their children’s teachers.

The demand is high, and TESOL minors at MBU are training to meet that demand.

Many missionaries use TESOL as a “tent-making” occupation on the mission field. “Let’s say the dollar crashes, thus impacting a church’s offering,” Morris says. “English teachers could still have an opportunity to stay in a foreign field if they are teaching.”

TESOL has been proven an effective ministry stateside as well. Thousands of immigrants come to America every year, and more and more don’t speak English. A 2013 United States census reported that over 61 million Americans don’t speak English in their homes.

“God is bringing us the mission field…and they want English,” Morris says.  Many TESOL students see that opportunity and capitalize on it by starting an ESL class in their church, teaching in their public library, or even tutoring in a public school. These settings often provide opportunities for MBU students to develop relationships through teaching English so that they can eventually share a clear presentation of the gospel.

“Ultimately, English is just the tool to tell them about Christ,” says Morris. “We can teach you the pedagogy that will help you be successful if God leads you into any kind of ministry where you can teach English.”

No matter what setting students choose to use TESOL, MBU gives them the skills they need to be successful teachers and ministers of the Gospel. “My goal is to teach my students to reach them,” says Morris. “To impact them and their families for Christ.”