Graduate school launches TESOL program
Responding to intense interest in the Brattleboro community, the Marlboro College Graduate School launched a master’s program in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) last summer. This development went hand-in-hand with the initiation of a TESOL certificate program on Potash Hill.
“For years there has been interest on the undergraduate campus in the field of TESOL, in part because it offers a way to go abroad and earn money while you do it,” said Beverley Burkett, program director. The TESOL program joins the other two education programs at the graduate school, the M.A. in Teaching with Technology and the M.A. in Teaching for Social Justice. “With the goal of building more programs at the graduate school that are in alignment with our undergraduate interests, a TESOL certificate program seemed like a great way to match an interest and need at the undergrad with expertise at the graduate school.”
Beverley comes to Marlboro from South Africa, where she was head of the language-in-education unit at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for more than 20 years. There she engaged in language teaching, research and curriculum development, with a particular focus on multilingual learning and the development of the South African language, isiXhosa, in educational contexts. She is co-author of an ESL textbook series, Keys to English, and has presented academic papers on language teacher education and additive bilingual education at international conferences around the world.
“I feel fortunate to be doing what I’m passionate about,” said Beverley. “The interaction with students in both programs is what I love most. I am always learning from them. It is really exciting to see them engage with the issues, grow in knowledge, skill and awareness.”
The TESOL master’s program welcomed its first pilot group of six students last summer in collaboration with Interlink, an organization that provides TESOL instruction for universities in the United States and abroad. Interlink was looking for an master’s program with a focus on experiential learning and reflective practice that they could direct their new hires to, and Marlboro was found to be the best match. The Interlink fellowship provides significant support to selected teachers for completing the program while teaching in an Interlink program.
“Both the master’s and the certificate program share an experiential, whole-person approach to the preparation of language teachers,” said Beverley. “I work with colleagues who share values and beliefs about learning, teaching and language. This gives our program a solid core and a consistency that is rare in teacher education.”