Colleen L

B.A. International Studies, Certificates in TESOL and African Studies ‘11

Getting the TESOL certificate allowed me to get a job right out of college. It opened doors for me to find legitimate employment in South Korea, Turkey, Tanzania, and the U.S. My dream came true. The certificate gave me the ability to look at the world map and choose the country I wanted to live in, knowing that I now had the skills I needed to apply for English teaching jobs around the world.

I did my student teaching with visiting scholars at UW-Madison and with refugees and immigrants at Madison College. These experiences prepared me to teach a variety of levels. After I graduated, I taught at a public elementary school in a small rural village in South Korea, an international university along the Mediterranean Sea in Antalya, Turkey, a rural school in Tanzania and in the UW-Madison ESL program. I now have a job as an administrator but I still volunteer teach in the Madison community.

Having the certificate allowed me to apply for jobs, but it was the specialized training, hands on experience, and mentorship from TESOL experts at UW-Madison that I received in the program that prepared me to really feel confident as an English teacher. It was apparent to me that I had received training that was high quality and that I was better prepared than my colleagues who had gotten their TESOL certifications elsewhere.

I would absolutely recommend the certificate for someone interested in a teaching job abroad. I knew I wanted to travel the world and having the TESOL certificate allowed me to do that and so much more. When you teach you really get to know and care about your students, their culture, their lives, their concerns.

Teaching English has allowed me to learn so much about others and myself, and develop cultural competency and deep compassion for others. It has made me see how similar and interconnected we all are, and how much privilege I have as a native English speaker and a U.S. citizen. In many ways, the TESOL certificate positively shaped my career and how I see the world and my place in it. If you are open to it, the certificate will not only give you a valuable credential and useful skills, but it will give you a long-lasting network of support as well. I still stay in touch with my TESOL professors to this day.