Teaching Monks, Nuns, and Nursing Students: A TCP Alum’s Experiences in South As | TESOL Certificate Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Certification

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Teaching Monks, Nuns, and Nursing Students: A TCP Alum’s Experiences in South Asia

We recently heard from John, an alumnus of the part-time TESOL Certificate Program who graduated this past May. Read on for his experiences teaching in India and Sri Lanka.

I just wanted to send you a quick update about my first independent teaching experience. My time in the practicum (as well as the rest of the TESOL Certificate Program generally) has proven to be an excellent preparation for me, and I’m not sure how I could have done this without having had the benefit of my mentor’s guidance in the CLP!

I first spent one month teaching at the Leonard Multi-Specialty Hospital in Batlagundu, Tamil Nadu, India. I taught an entire entering class of nursing students (19 students) at the Claudine School of Nursing – these students all attended primary and secondary school with Tamil-medium instruction, but were about to enter a nursing program that is taught entirely in English. Entering students usually have a one-week English refresher course before nursing classes begin, but this summer the entering class came to school a month early and were taught by me.

I had the students for 2.5 hours a day, 6 days a week, and I think we made a tremendous amount of progress. Interestingly, at the hospitals in this part of India, all conversations between doctors, nurses, and medical staff are conducted in English, even though almost all of the patients speak only Tamil or Telagu. I had complete freedom as to the curriculum and methodology (a proposition that had advantages as well as disadvantages), though the resources were quite basic – there were no textbooks and no printing, but at least I had a blackboard and (usually) electricity for the fans in the room. My students were extremely enthusiastic and they were a joy to teach.

I also taught a voluntary 90-minute class for the nurses and hospital staff, and this was generally conducted as a conversational class with a review of grammar points and relevant vocabulary as they came up. Most of the nurses, having been through their a three-year program conducted in English, spoke at a more advanced level than the nursing students, though there was certainly improvements made for this group as well.

I am currently teaching a large local population of Buddhist monks/nuns in Kandy and Peradeniya, two neighboring towns in central Sri Lanka. This part of Sri Lanka has a high density of monasteries, international Buddhist centers, as well as a university, and my students are all in the area for either academic or monastic studies. My students come from all over Asia (China, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and South Korea, among others), and out of a total group of about 25, around 15 students show up for class each day. I primarily hold classes at the Sri Subodharama International Buddhist Centre, though my teaching is not affiliated with the center.