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Big changes for two minors

Change in curriculum affects TESOL minors

Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Updated: Friday, November 20, 2009 22:11

On October 28th, official changes to the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) minor's curriculum were approved. The restructuring comes as a result of the DPI (Department of Public Instruction) changing its regulations for ESL (English as a Second Language) certification within the past five years. According to TESOL Program Coordinator Janis Hanson, the old curriculum requirements "have worked very well, but we want to make sure we reflect DPI regulations for ESL certification." According to Hanson, the old and new TESOL curriculums are very similar, with the most major changes coming in the minor's internship program. Currently, TESOL minors in the Teacher Education Program are required to take a one credit internship. Under the new curriculum, TESOL minors will need a four credit internship. Hanson says that most TESOL minors currently complete at least one internship at UW-L's ESL department, working with international students. "With the new curriculum, students will have to take more internship credits, but there are more international students on campus who need their assistance," says Hanson, who points out that internships are important in order to gain real-world experience. Another change to the TESOL curriculum has increased the variety of electives that TESOL minors can take. New elective opportunities will be available in a wide variety of disciplines and will reflect international and U.S. minority issues. According to Hanson, the new elective opportunities "will allow people with broad field Social Studies, English, and other majors to use the skills they've learned." Hanson also says that as more and more departments add international courses, the TESOL program would be interested in adding those courses as elective opportunities as well. In addition, French, German, and Spanish Education majors will be required to take a Foundations of Literacy Course for K-12 certification track. Since the curriculum changes are new, Hanson says that TESOL minors graduating in May 2010 will be the first group of students required to take the new program requirements, unless they are student teaching. According to Hanson, the changeover to the new requirements won't be difficult for students because "they can use classes they have already taken as electives." Hanson also points out that, although the number of internship credits has increased from one to four, the number of total credits for the minor will still be 25, meaning students will replace a three credit class with more internship credits. According to Hanson, the TESOL minor has become very popular, with approximately 50 students currently enrolled, more than double the number of students enrolled during the Fall 2000 semester. Hanson says that there are many benefits to being a TESOL minor, beyond being certified in ESL. "[The TESOL minor] is helpful to education students because it gives them perspective on teaching English language learners and teaches them the importance of maintaining heritage languages in the home." Hanson also says that, in addition to being great preparation for an international work environment and a variety of graduate degrees, the TESOL minor is "interesting and exciting to learn. It's about much more than just taking classes to get a job." For more information, visit the TESOL program's student-run website, http://www.uwlax.edu/tesol.

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