Student Stories

Graduates share about their experiences in the MA-TESOL program.

I chose SPU's MA-TESOL program because of the balance between linguistics and pedagogy that I saw in the curriculum. I loved learning how language works in phonology, morphology, and syntax courses. We applied those concepts in really helpful (and fun!) projects, such as designing our own language. From that foundation, we learned how to both learn and teach language. In the pedagogical courses, I developed very practical skills in designing lessons and assessments. I still use some of the materials that I developed in those courses.

As I studied, I knew that I was getting a quality experience in the classroom. However, it is the two-phase practicum that really sets SPU’s program apart. Having a practicum coordinator to help initiate and maintain a partnership with host teachers in the field is invaluable. This level of support is really unique. My practicum gave me the teaching experience and mentorship that I needed. Because of this, I was able to transition smoothly to a teaching opportunity at the community college. I truly realized how well I had been prepared when I started teaching in my own classroom.

Of course, teaching English is a never-ending pursuit. I continue to learn and develop, and I take that ongoing process seriously. However, I am grateful for the solid foundation that the MA-TESOL program gave me."

---Jill Bauer
ESL Faculty, North Seattle Community College

"Before coming to the US, I was an EFL teacher in my home country, Romania.  I applied for the MA-TESOL program at SPU because I realized that only by enriching my linguistic, cultural and pedagogic knowledge through an international education could I help students learn English most effectively.  Studying at SPU was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I have learned a lot from all the components of my graduate program.  The process of writing my thesis paper was a great learning experience.  The professors in my thesis committee were very supportive and helpful; therefore, the experience of writing my thesis was rewarding and enjoyable.  The MA-TESOL program has prepared me to guide my students on the journey of learning ESL/EFL and to help them achieve their goals."

---Liana Pavelescu 
ESL Instructor, Bellevue College


"The MA-TESOL program at SPU is an excellent balance of theory, practical experience and reflection.  The core requirements of the program are woven together expertly and are designed to meet the needs of the "whole" teacher.  For example, while studying theories on second language acquisition, students study a language they have never studied before.  After, graduate students reflect on their experiences in order to gain a better understanding of their future students.  Also, as a graduate student already working in the field, I really needed a program that could work with my teaching schedule.  Evening classes, instructor flexibility, online learning components and summer classes all contributed to my success."

---Jamila Barton
ESL Faculty, North Seattle Community College


"SPU's MA-TESOL program is, in a word, outstanding. I was grateful for the eclectic mix of courses from various disciplines, and for the practicum courses, which provide opportunities to observe and teach at local community colleges and meet ESL professionals. The professors, who are experts in their fields, practice what they teach. This program is characterized by a balance of high expectations and positive reinforcement. I am in my second year as an ESL instructor now, and I feel well-prepared for my new profession."

---Eveline Piersma
ESL Instructor, Bellevue College


"The students in the MA-TESOL program were culturally diverse, experienced, and knowledgeable. The practicum was a great introduction to teaching and to the institution where we teach. The program placed me with top-notch teachers at a leading college."

---Timothy Healy
Director of A.C.E. Language Institute at SPU


"The MA-TESOL program at SPU offers an excellent combination of linguistics background, language learning theory, and practical experience.  I came to know my professors very well and was provided the flexibility to tailor much of my study to fit my own professional goals.  As a result of my training in the MA-TESOL program and the professional connections I made while there, I accepted a full time position beginning before my degree had even been conferred.  What's more, I'll be putting my new training and experience to the test overseas when I take up a university teaching position in Jinan, China next spring.

---Davey Young
ESL Instructor, Jinan, China