For a long time after getting accepted to the Social Science Teaching program, I had in my mind a mapped-out plan for how the rest of my education at BYU would go. I listed the classes I still needed to take, organized when I could potentially take those classes, and saw that I could finish my degree in the fall of 2011. I felt accomplished; I had finally organized the remainder of my undergraduate career! In a triumphant manner, I pinned this plan to the wall of my bedroom so I could admire how close I was to finally finishing my degree!
A few days later in my Exploration of Teaching class, my professor admitted that social science teachers often have a hard time finding employment. He explained that most school districts have a surplus of history, government, economics, and geography teachers; this surplus would make it almost impossible for me or my classmates to find a job. It was then that he offered this one piece of advice, “If you want to be more marketable, pick up the TESOL K-12 minor.”
I knew I had to declare the minor. If I did not, I would have little hope of finding employment after graduation. The next day, I visited with an academic advisor from the McKay School. We created a new academic plan that accommodated the minor’s 19 credits. To my dismay, the plan extended my undergraduate career for an additional semester. When I got home, I begrudgingly took down the academic plan originally pinned to my wall and replaced it with a new revised plan.
I later learned that the additional semester was a necessary inconvenience. In the 2007-2008 academic year, 5.8 million English Language Learners were enrolled in US Public Schools. Numbers like these have many school districts and some states now requiring teachers to get some type of English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement. The TESOL K-12 minor through the McKay School is an example of an ESL endorsement program. Those who finish the minor are certified to work with English Language Learners.
While the thought of another 19 credits might scare some education majors away from the minor, the benefits from the minor outweigh the inconveniences. For many secondary education programs, completion of the TESOL K-12 minor will waive three classes that are normally program requirements (ScEd 350: Adolescent Development, ScEd 353: Multicultural Education, and ScEd 379: Classroom Management). It is important to note that these classes are waived only if the TESOL K-12 minor is completed in its entirety.
Additionally, the Teaching English to Language Learners (TELL) classes associated with the minor offer countless resources that can be used in teaching any subject. For example, in TELL 420 (Assessing Linguistically Diverse Students) I have gained access to hundreds of rubrics and grading materials that I would have never discovered had it not been for the minor. Other resources include classroom activities, lesson plans, and language learning tools.
There is no foreign language requirement for the minor, but those who speak Spanish fluently may consider declaring the TESOL K-12—Spanish Minor. This minor not only gives students an ESL endorsement, but it gives them a bilingual endorsement as well. Some states and school districts pay bilingual teachers a generous stipend for their language abilities.
There are several other things I could address about the minor. For general questions, the McKay School has set up a FAQ page. Those interested in declaring the minor should meet with an academic advisor in 120 MCKB.
For those secondary education majors who have declared the minor, what has your experience been with TELL classes? What are your thoughts on working with English Learners?