I learnt about the Lewis School of English before arriving in Southampton on September 1st, 2018, to start a Masters programme in Global Englishes at the University of Southampton. My husband was looking for a place to learn English, and a friend suggested that Lewis was the best school in the city. As I found out later, she was not wrong at all!
Name: Alicia Nationality: Chilean Joined Because: Wanted to make a career change Now Working as: Director of International Relations & Tutor of Postgraduate English, Universidad de Chile
Joined Because: Wanted to make a career change
Now Working as: Director of International Relations & Tutor of Postgraduate English, Universidad de Chile
A Passion for Teaching English
My professional career has been linked to the Spanish language and literature, which I taught at Universidad de Chile in South America. Although I had studied English since I was at school, I had never thought about getting a degree or a certificate in English. In 2014, though, I made a career change and began to work for the University’s internationalisation committee. From that moment on, English became a requisite for my job as I had to meet foreign partners, conduct interviews in English and collaborate in the creation of an English language learning programme. In the process, I discovered that I was passionate about teaching English and teaching my subject through English, and these circumstances led me to apply for an MA in the UK.
Why I Chose the CertTESOL Course
The University of Southampton’s MA was outstanding; however, its focus was on research, not teaching. Eventually, I realised that the Lewis School of English offered a CertTESOL course, and I decided to try my luck. As mentioned, I am not a native speaker of English, nor have I developed a professional career in this language. Despite this, I achieved the minimum requirements for being part of the part-time CertTESOL course and enrolled in it.
A Challenging Course!
The twelve-week course put me to the test. Firstly, I had to overcome the shyness of not speaking as a native. Secondly, I had to absorb a lot of content related to English grammar and second language acquisition theories. Thirdly, and the most challenging, I had to put my new knowledge into practice with real students who attended classes to learn the language. Some of my lessons resulted better than others, but I learnt from errors and took on board my teachers’ feedback, trying to keep an open mind. I acknowledge that the support that I received from my tutors and classmates was essential for me to be able to reach the end and become a certified English teacher.
Impact on My Career
The CertTESOL course has had a resounding impact on my professional career. Since my graduation, I have taught one-to-one English lessons, both in person and online, and I have also specialised in teaching English as a Medium of Instruction. Along with a colleague, I created a blended learning professional development course that we currently deliver at Universidad de Chile. The EMI course prepares university lecturers whose first language is Spanish to teach their subjects through English. It helps them to gain confidence in using English for specific purposes and allows them to incorporate new teaching techniques to scaffold students’ learning. The EMI course has become a valuable tool for lecturers to internationalise their careers. At the same time, it has contributed to the internationalisation of Universidad de Chile as a whole.
I only have words of gratitude for the Lewis School of English and its teachers. The experience of being a student there provided me with new knowledge and prospects, allowing me to implement and consolidate the career change I had decided to make. Finally, I would like to mention an aspect of utmost importance for me, which is that at the Lewis School of English, I met very kind people that I consider true friends.
Photo at top of page: Alicia with her students from her teaching practice on the CertTESOL course