California Lutheran University’s English department has a new minor, Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), along with a new course that will be available for students to take this spring.
“TESOL is a new course that we wanted to offer in the English department as a minor. This course will fulfill Core 21 requirements for U.S. diversity and writing intensive. Anyone can take this course. This is a foundational course for TESOL as a minor program,” said Scott Chiu, an English professor and content specialist for the TESOL minor.
Chiu proposed the new course and minor to the department chair and received approval last year. The execution of the minor was a group effort, consisting of members of the English department as well as the Interdisciplinary Educational Studies major.
Courses on how to teach English as a second language are very common as an applied linguistics subject.
“I was from Taiwan – English is not my first language. I appreciate how a course like this can benefit those people who are learning English,” Chiu said.
Chiu said this is a promising field with a large global job market.
“I hope that students, especially students interested in becoming teachers, see the value of this minor in a broad sense, for its ability to meet the needs of students from diverse and often underrepresented backgrounds. These are the students that often need the most help in achieving success,” said Bryan Rasmussen, English department chair.
The class will be focused on social justice and the learner. It will also look at why people want to learn English, which Chiu said is uncommon in TESOL classes.
“I would say most [English language learners] are immigrants and they don’t always have the resources or best educational background, so their motivation to learn English is for survival and a basic need. From there, I want to introduce teaching English as an act of promoting social justice,” Chiu said.
Chiu expects this class to be exciting and hands-on. There will be a service learning project in which the class will work with local immigrants from adult school programs in the area, international students and with the English Language Center on campus. Through helping people, Chiu said he hopes the class will get a sense of what he means by social justice and how students can apply this theory of language learning to the actual learner.
This new class is still in its beginning stages. Chiu said building up the reputation of a course is not easy. Based on experience, he said it will take at least two to three semesters or years. If the class does not get at least eight students enrolled, it will need special permission from Cal Lutheran’s College of Arts and Sciences Dean Lavariega Monforti to continue.
Rasmussen said the minor will complement existing courses such as First and Second Language Acquisition by “focusing specifically on how theories about language and learning apply to second-language learners.”
Joe Murray, instructor at AF International, an adult school in Westlake that teaches English to foreign students, said a benefit of teaching English language learners is that it’s a job where you feel like you’re making honest money. Another benefit is getting to learn about different cultures through essays and conversations.
The job has been rewarding for Murray because he has had students come to the U.S. unable to form sentences. After four to six months, the students can speak and carry conversations in English.
“It’s a sense of accomplishment in helping people live a better life just because they learned a language,” Murray said.
Murray said everyone needs English at this point in society.
“I don’t feel accomplishment because I taught them English per say, but I feel accomplishment because I helped them to communicate within the future for business or travel or something because everyone else speaks English,” Murray said.
Cal Lutheran students interested in the new English 315 class can still enroll for spring semester. The class will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:15-3:30 p.m.