Saturday, August 16, 2014

MA-TESOL Marlboro Graduate School- Summer 1

I would like to share my experience in the MA-TESOL programme at Marlboro Graduate School. This was my first summer semester at Marlboro and after one week we will all head back to our teaching jobs to carry out our practicums and work on our portfolios. I tried to envision what the programme would be like before I arrived, but I got a lot more than what I had expected. Here is a little of what stood out for me this summer:

We are a small group of 10 students coming from different cultures and backgrounds which has enriched my perspective and appreciation of others. Some of us have been teaching for two years, some for six, others for twelve; experiences vary, but it does not matter, as we all have unique experiences that can benefit others in our group. 

The TESOL programme at Marlboro opens its arms to teachers from different nationalities that speak different languages. They do not believe in the notion of 'only native speakers can become good English teachers'. All of our TESOL faculty are 'native speakers of English', but hopefully, in the near future, they will have international teachers as well.

We are not ranked based on education or experience, in fact, we are not ranked at all; we focus on community rather than competition.

The first summer semester we came to Brattleboro, Vermont for two months. This worked brilliantly for my classmates and I because we are all teachers who are not working during the summer.Of course, it will be tiring to go directly back to work after two months of intensive classes, but it will be quite exciting going back to work with new ideas and teaching practices to experiment with. 

We began our first week in the programme with a 'shock language'. This is a language which nobody in the group knows (the programme director will ask you what languages you know before you arrive). We had Japanese as our language! It was enjoyable and challenging at the same time as there were many interactive activities, but it was difficult to keep up with the Japanese instructions at times. This experience is done for us to play the role of the language learner rather than the language teacher. It also helps us learn about ourselves as learners helping us to better understand our students and the types of difficulties they might be facing. We had three hours of Japanese a day for five days.

Reflective practice is a MAJOR part of the programme. 

At the end of each week, we have a 'learning in community circle' where we usually share the following: 

- How we are feeling about the week that has gone by;

- Something someone has done for us in the past week that we appreciate;

- Our concerns;

- What we look forward to in the upcoming week;

- Announcements

The circle is usually facilitated by a faculty member, but during the last three weeks, us students have been facilitating.

We are now ending our summer programme with final assignments and learning statements. Our fall semester will begin whilst we are at our jobs where we will have a chance to reflect on our teaching in our practicum module. We will also be working on our portfolios which are used as a form of final evaluation rather than a thesis and  is based on the 8 TESOL standards.

It will be difficult to be physically away from this supportive environment until next summer; however, we will all be connected virtually.

If you are a student considering the MA TESOL programme at Marlboro and have further questions, you can reach me at: