Greene County News
FAIRBORN — Wright State senior Taylor Williams wants to travel around the world — and she says an accelerated English degree she’s pursuing at Wright State will help her do it.
Williams is pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) to give her the skills she will need to work with non-native English speakers around the world.
“I do want to see the world, and what better way to do it than to teach, make a living while traveling?” she said.
Williams is participating in a new TESOL 4+1 program offered by the Department of English Language and Literatures that allows Wright State students to earn a M.A. in TESOL a year earlier than a traditional graduate program.
The department has also created a 3+1+1 program that allows international students to earn their bachelor’s degree in language studies and then a master’s degree in TESOL.
The TESOL 4+1 program allows English majors to earn their bachelor’s degree in four years then spend one additional year completing a master’s. This is possible because in their fourth year students begin taking TESOL classes at the graduate level.
The program is designed for students interested in a career teaching English to speakers of other languages. Having a master’s degree greatly improves students’ chances of getting a job in the United States or overseas, said Chris Hall, director of TESOL programs at Wright State.
“We thought this was a perfect opportunity for students to start a career in a growing field,” Hall said. “It’s exploding, the number of English teachers they need in the world today.”
The growth in TESOL programs is fueled by China’s demand for English language teachers. English is also the preferred language for business and technology sectors around the world.
“English is now the lingua franca of the world,” Hall said. “English teachers are in such great demand around the world, and they want somebody who has the appropriate degree (a master’s degree).”
It’s a perfect option for Williams, who fell in love with the Chinese language and culture while studying Chinese at Bellbrook High School. After deciding that teaching English overseas would make a great career, she transferred to Wright State during her freshman year because of the TESOL program.
“I’ve always been interested in different cultures. I’m always learning,” she said.
She enrolled in the TESOL 4+1 program because it will save her money and allow her to earn her master’s degree sooner. Williams, who works at Wright State’s Mini U to give her experience working with young children, would like to teach in Australia and China after graduation.
The TESOL program has also expanded its program for non-native English speakers through a new agreement with Xi’an University of Arts and Sciences in China.
Under the 3+1+1 program, Xi’an students take undergraduate classes in language studies at their home university for three years, then come to Wright State for one year of transitional status in the Graduate School followed by another year of TESOL graduate courses. Students who complete the program will receive B.A. and M.A. degrees.
Other universities have expressed interest in pursuing a similar partnership with Wright State. Xi’an University administrators are excited about the program.
“Just about every university in China is looking for professional teachers. And the problem we face is they want Americans. So here’s a way they can actually grow their own or develop their own language teachers for their own university,” Hall said.
The program will also give more opportunities for native English-speaking students to work with international students. Students from Saudi Arabia, China, Mexico and Argentina are currently enrolled in TESOL’s graduate program.
“It opens a door for students all over the world to come here to Wright State and create a much more international feel and mentality to the M.A. program,” Hall said.
Hui Geng, who studied teaching Chinese as a second language at Xi’an, is the first student in the 3+1+1 program. After graduation, she hopes to teach Chinese or work as a translator.
TESOL is also helping her master English and improve her listening skills.
Geng said she is fortunate Xi’an University has an agreement with Wright State.
“I never imagined I could get a master’s degree in the United States,” she said.