TESOL Certificate Program Gives Islanders the Ticket to Teach English Abroad

By Richard Guerrero | Published: February 19, 2021

TESOL Certificate Program Gives Islanders the Ticket to Teach English Abroad
Photos courtesy Cinthia Cavazos

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Cinthia Cavazos ’19 has always had a passion for traveling. As a student at Del Mar College, Cavazos was taking a French class when she learned she could teach English in other countries by pursuing a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate.

It was the perfect opportunity, she said.

“I saw that Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi had a TESOL certificate program, and that some of the courses would also contribute to my degree plan, which was English Writing Studies,” Cavazos said. “So, it was an obvious choice.”

Today, Cavazos is teaching English to elementary school students in grades 3-6 and middle school students in grades 7-9 in Chuja-do, South Korea. The East Asian island offers English courses in public schools to prepare South Korean students to speak English in everyday life, Cavazos said.p-2cla-tesol-cinthia-cavazos-south-korea

Cavazos is one of 95 graduates who have earned a TESOL certificate since the program launched at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in fall 2013. According to Dr. Stephen Doolan, Associate Professor of English and TESOL coordinator, there were 36 students enrolled in the TESOL program in 2013, but by spring 2014, enrollments rose to 53 students and now approximately 55-60 students—60% of whom are not English majors—have enrolled in either the basic TESOL Certificate, which requires 12 credits, or the Advanced TESOL Certificate, which launched in fall 2019 and requires 16 credits.

“To my knowledge, every student who has tried to find work abroad has received an offer,” Doolan said.

Those who have completed the certificate have found work in a variety of countries, including Colombia, France, South Korea, Spain, Nicaragua, and Indonesia, to name a few. 

Marysville, Kansas native Maddy Moore ‘19 transferred to the Island University from the University of Kansas in fall 2017. An English major with a focus in creative writing, Moore learned about the TESOL program in a junior-level English class. Hearing from presenters who shared their experiences convinced Moore to enroll in the certificate program.

“The program itself was incredibly informative. We learned about how English is learned as a second language, and the best way to incorporate that in the classroom,” Moore said. “We were given plenty of opportunities to engage with the course materials and put them into practice through practice lesson plans and teaching.”

As an Islander, Moore worked in the Athletic Department as an academic assistant for international athletes and, in addition, she tutored children in reading and writing. As part of her TESOL course requirements, Moore and fellow classmates served as volunteer teachers at the Corpus Christi Literacy Council. She graduated from the Island University with a Bachelor of Arts in English in spring 2019.

When it came time to look for an overseas teaching position, she set her sights on Japan. After an extensive application and interview process, Moore received a teaching assignment at three different elementary schools in Hyogo, Japan. In Japan, learning English is a requirement for all students who must study the language for a certain number of hours per week.  p-3cla-tesol-cinthia-cavazos-south-korea

“I rotate between three different elementary schools in my city. My students are between the ages 7 and 12,” Moore said.

Moore said the TESOL program gave her all the tools she needs to succeed in the classroom.

“The TESOL coursework taught me how to create lessons geared toward different learning goals, how to effectively implement games and activities, and our practice teaching showed me how to adapt to different learners and their needs,” Moore said. “I use all these things in the classroom daily, and I think my students also benefit because I’m able to give them more fun, engaging, and understandable lessons.”

Doolan says the program is open to post-baccalaureate students as well, especially those considering new career opportunities.

For more information

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The TESOL Program will be hosting a virtual job panel on Wednesday, March 24, at noon. To attend, visit https://tamucc.webex.com/meet/sdoolan. Anyone interested in learning more about TESOL certificates and current TESOL certificate students thinking about the job application process are encouraged to attend.  General information can also be found at https://cla.tamucc.edu/english/tesol/tesol_certificate.html.

(photo courtesy Jarrettoby Lewis '14