by Eva Kartchava and David Wood (School of Linguistics and Language Studies)
In light of the recent developments in the Middle East and Canada’s commitment to support Syrian refugees, have you wondered about a contribution which could be made to the resettlement process?
While donations of services, food, clothing, and money are the usual means of support, providing quality language education can be another. The word “quality” is intentional in part because of the popular misconception that the only requirement one would need to teach a language is the ability to speak it. Yet, we would hardly feel at ease being operated on by a surgeon who has only witnessed a surgery without ever having participated in one or a self-proclaimed “pilot” whose only qualification for commandeering the flight you are on is a high score in a video game simulation.
Granted, language education is not a question of life and death, but in many circumstances, one’s inability to effectively communicate can affect one’s present and future realities. Teachers who have been trained in the art of language teaching understand this and are in the position to provide instruction that delivers results. These are professionals who are not only passionate about their work but are also committed to ensuring that the instruction they provide is field tested, in line with the current advancements in language acquisition research, and most importantly, answers to the needs of their learners. Taking a language course with a teacher like this, then, can impact one’s level of success – be it in their integration in a new country, securing rewarding employment, participating in cultural and linguistic landscapes, or from the simple realization that what they say is understood. In short, quality language education can and often does make a real difference.
Fortunately, Carleton is well known as a centre of excellence in the training of teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) in Canada. The School of Linguistics and Language Studies (SLaLS) houses two programs in this area: a post-degree Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (CTESL), and a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies (ALDS). The CTESL was founded in 1975 and is among the oldest such programs in the country, with a long reputation for producing leaders who work in ESL programs across Canada and around the world. The Master of Arts in ALDS includes a TESL stream of courses which provides graduates with the highest qualification in the field, leading to employment in specialized courses in colleges and universities, as well as positions of program leadership and specialist positions in such areas as assessment and teacher training. Both programs are fully accredited by TESL Ontario and TESL Canada, the professional bodies for this field, and graduates are automatically eligible for accreditation as teachers by both organizations.
The professors are distinguished experts in the field and experienced language teachers themselves. They understand both the challenges and benefits of this vocation and, through their active engagement in language classroom research and teacher education, are committed to continued innovation in and advancement of the profession.
A degree in TESL from Carleton is an opportunity to become a well-rounded language teaching specialist, whose skills and abilities are celebrated and professionally recognized. This is a chance to effect change one person or classroom at a time. This is one example of how we can help newcomers to Canada and those learning English elsewhere to successfully navigate their chosen linguistic landscapes. In the current climate of political instability, the significance of quality language education cannot be overstated. After all, by helping someone to learn a language, we not only fulfill their linguistic needs but also open their eyes to what’s possible, thus ultimately affecting the course of their (and our) lives for the better.