Interview with Michelle | TESOL Certificate Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Certification

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How Rigorous is the TESOL Certificate Program? An Interview with a TCP Faculty Member

We sit down with Instructor Michelle Stabler-Havener for a casual Q&A.

Prospective students frequently reach out to ask about the academics and expected workload in the TESOL Certificate Program. To help answer these questions, we recently interviewed the TCP’s Classroom Practices instructor, Michelle Stabler-Havener. Read on for her answers about TCP academics as well as her advice to prospective students considering the program:

Q: How would you describe the academics of the TESOL Certificate Program?

MSH: Academically the TESOL Certificate Program is rigorous and well-rounded. The five graduate-level courses—Classroom Practices and the Practicum, Pedagogical Grammar, Intercultural Communication, Second-Language Acquisition, and Second Language Assessment—provide students with a solid foundation for teaching TESOL to adult learners both in the United States and abroad.

Q: How rigorous is the program? How much work is expected for the full-time program? The part-time program?

MSH: First, I’d like to begin by saying that something that makes the Teachers College, Columbia University TESOL Certificate Program stand out from other TESOL certificate programs is how well prepared our students are to start teaching with excellence upon successful completion of their course of study.  Because of this, our certificate program has a good reputation. This is demonstrated by the fact that our certificate program graduates are hired to teach by ESL programs that prefer applicants hold a master’s degree in TESOL.

Returning to your question, the program is exceptionally rigorous. For the full-time program, students will work approximately 40 hours per week for the online portion of the course. For the on-site portion, they will attend classes Monday through Friday from about 9:30AM until 5PM. Often there is homework that they will need to complete in the evenings and on weekends.   Regarding the part-time program, students will spend an average of 20 hours per week on their coursework during the online portion of the course.  For the on-site portion, students will be in class on Fridays from 9AM until 5PMand on Saturdays from 10AM to 3PM. In addition, they will have homework assignments to complete during the week.

Q: How can students make sure they are prepared for their time in the program?

MSH: Students will receive syllabi before classes begin. They can start working on the required readings ahead of time.  Students will also have access to the online learning management system (LMS), Canvas, a few days before classes start.  It is a good idea to take advantage of this time by watching some of the online tutorials provided by Canvas, as well as familiarizing themselves with the LMS.  Additionally, it’s important to be mentally prepared for the rigor and demands of graduate-level work.  It can be helpful for students to reflect on whether or not their current schedule permits them to dedicate the time to their studies required for successful completion of the program.

Q: What advice do you have for applicants considering the TESOL Certificate Program?

MSH: Enjoy this unique, professional development experience–rigors, challenges, and all!  Come with your own questions and interests regarding teaching and the field of TESOL.  Make the most of your studies by working on getting your questions answered and digging into areas that match your own interests.