New grad program helps intl. students

Ariana Grams

NMU will be offering a new postbaccalaureate certificate program this semester that will help to better serve the growing number of international students attending NMU as well as those interested in English as a second language.

The program, called Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), consists of 20 credit hours and can be completed by anyone who is pursuing a graduate degree at NMU. Students can start taking classes toward the certificate this semester, even as an undergraduate student.

“Students can unofficially start now, even though the program starts in the fall,” said Peter Goodrich, the English professor who is credited with starting the program. “Since it is a credential, not a degree, students can take most of the courses as undergraduates and still count them towards the certificate.”

The program has had a long history, but only now does NMU have enough foreign students to make it sustainable, he said. While NMU has offered classes in English as a second language before, there has never been enough interest until now.

“This [program] is not only to help international students, but to train NMU students to teach speakers of foreign languages,” Goodrich said. This program is a way for students to add a skill that will be useful to them in many different career fields.

“The certificate will help to set you apart from other candidates vying for the same jobs and make you more attractive to employers, no matter what your field,” Goodrich said.

“This is for anybody. It’s a great way to become familiar with your native language and to understand other cultures.”

Three professors, Goodrich, David Boe, and Z.Z. Lehmberg, have pushed TESOL through all of the stages of approval since fall 2009. This past fall it got the final approvals needed, putting the program right on track as they had hoped, Goodrich said.  There are many members of the English and Modern Languages departments as well as some other departments who will be involved in the program. They have all had experience teaching English as a second language.

To obtain the certificate, students must take all of the required classes, which consists of four four credit courses. They also have to take one four credit elective course and then complete an internship in which they must teach English as a second language.