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New Program Prepares Students to Teach English to Non-English Speakers

  • Harper College
  • July 5, 2017

This fall, Harper College will offer a new certificate program to prepare people to teach English to non-English speakers. Associate Professor Alina Pajtek recently answered questions about the new TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate.

What is TESOL?
TESOL, or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a very exciting and rewarding field in which people can make a difference by helping others. As a TESOL teacher, you can help immigrants learn English, work with people of different cultures in a study abroad program, or travel to other countries to teach English.

Why is Harper College offering this new certificate?
Because of our global economy, in which English is so important, there is a high demand both here in the United States and internationally for speakers of other languages to become competent in English. Students of different backgrounds as well as people in the workplace require more and more fluency in English. This certificate addresses this need by providing Harper students and the community with training opportunities to become teachers of English to speakers of other languages.


Who should consider earning this certificate?
This certificate is entry-level, so it is for anyone interested in becoming a teacher of English to speakers of other languages--current Harper College students, people who want to change careers or are looking for a second career, retirees, and other members of the community. TESOL certificate graduates can expect to find jobs in the US as ESL tutors or instructors in non-profit organizations, libraries or study abroad programs. They would also qualify for jobs abroad teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.


How will this certificate prepare students for a new career or help them with an existing one?
The TESOL Certificate offers both hands-on and theoretical training necessary to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages in both domestic and international contexts. This certificate includes course work and hands-on experience in theoretical Linguistics, language and culture, English as a Second Language teaching methods, and depending on students’ choices of elective courses, in other areas such as Humanities, Education, Anthropology, Psychology, Philosophy, and Literature. Through the Practicum, one of our required courses, students will gain classroom experience in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Some of the activities that our students will engage in are: observing ESL classes, planning and teaching lessons, writing a teaching philosophy, discussing lessons with their Practicum coordinator, and reflecting on the qualities of good ESL teachers.

How long will it take me to earn this certificate?
Since this is only a 16 credit certificate, students can complete everything in one year, part time. If students have had Education or Linguistics courses before, they can begin the program at any time; if not, we recommend that students start in the fall semester with LNG 105 and with category B courses (Education or Early Childhood Education). 

Do the courses in this certificate program transfer?
Yes, all classes in the certificate program (except the one-credit LNG 229: Practicum for TESOL Certificate) transfer to other colleges and universities. Three required courses (LNG 105, 205 and 220) can also be used towards the ESL Endorsement for teachers in the state of Illinois. Also, all coursework in the certificate can be used for the associate of arts degree. In fact, students could work on both at the same time and earn credit for both the certificate and the AA degree. Also, many of the courses required by the TESOL certificate also count towards Harper’s Distinction in International Perspectives. Lastly, students who pursue this certificate and plan to transfer would have the opportunity to continue working in TESOL in their future undergraduate and graduate programs of choice.

What else should I know about this new program?
While the TESOL certificate is a new program, the ESL and Linguistics Department at Harper is well-established within the College community through its affordable, high-quality programs. Additionally: 

  • The TESOL program is financial-aid eligible.
  • Our faculty are highly trained professionals who hold either master's or doctoral degrees, and who have extensive experience teaching both ESL and Linguistics in the US and abroad.
  • Another strength of our program is that we offer a full-time and a part-time ESL option, and ESL classes are offered both in the morning and in the evening.
  • Our ESL classes focus on various language skills, including writing, grammar, listening, speaking, reading, vocabulary, pronunciation, and conversation. Thus, during practicum course and throughout the certificate, students will have the opportunity to observe different ESL classes and learn from experts in the field of TESOL.

For more information on earning the TESOL certificate, contact Professor Alina Pajtek at 847.925.6670 or via email.