Cassidy Pawul ’22

World Learning SIT TESOL Certificate Program (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages),

This summer, I enrolled in and graduated from the International Language Institute of Northampton (ILI)’s intensive TESOL course. Under the expert guidance of our SIT (School of International Training) certified teacher trainer, Brian Long, my five fellow teachers-in-training and I learned the tenets of experiential learning and language learning and how to teach pronunciation, speaking, grammar, listening, reading, writing, and culture. We did this not only through studying Brian’s compilations of written resources, or through roleplay workshops where we approached these subjects from the learner’s perspective, but also through hands-on experience teaching English learners in real time. As part of my six hours of teaching practice, I taught and prepared formal lesson plans for one ice-breaker activity, one culture lesson, one reading lesson, two speaking lessons, and one writing lesson. This part was 
initially daunting to me—I’d never officially “taught” in a classroom 
setting before, only informally tutored—but despite the steep learning 
curve I felt fully supported. The generous amount of positive, constructive feedback I received before and after teaching (in grouped lesson-planning sessions and grouped lesson-processing sessions, respectively) boosted my learning speed and confidence, and I learned volumes observing my fellow trainees during their lessons, as many of them were already experienced (non-ESL) teachers. The real-life teaching experience, however, I found to be valuable above all. It enabled me to turn the pedagogical theories I studied into practices—or, to use some TESOL jargon, it enabled me to internalize and personalize what I learned. I began to realize why those ideas mattered, and how I could implement my teaching tools to make them matter most. I can’t imagine what TESOL would’ve been like without real-life teaching experience—and I’m beyond grateful ILI couldn’t either.

Taking this course has altered and enriched both my personal and professional life—in more ways than 500 words can say—but most notably, it has made me realize I want to pursue a full major in French instead of a mere certificate. Now that I’m a certified TESOL instructor and could, hypothetically, use said diploma to teach in any Francophone country I choose, it seems logical to “build on a strong point” and further cement my credibility as a language teacher. What’s more, doing this would not only strengthen my résumé as a language teacher, but as any type of working professional in a Francophone country—or as a member of the Peace Corps, another appealing avenue that is more open to me now as a TESOL grad! Therefore, I plan to take at least four more French courses at Williams and ramp up my extracurricular studying efforts to become (more than) fully fluent. Fortunately, having taken TESOL will help me in the latter pursuit as well. Learning how to teach—perhaps counterintuitively—has also taught me how to learn…and I’m confident those skills will help me thrive no matter what career I choose.

Thank you beyond measure to the Estate of Bruce C. Davey and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for this life-changing opportunity.