Interview: Claire Renaud, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University
Claire Renaud, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, joins us today to discuss Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
1. Can you tell us about the Masters in TESOL (MTESOL) program offered at Arizona State University (ASU)?
The Master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MTESOL) at Arizona State University was established in 1969. To complete the program, students must take 6 required courses along with 4 electives, for a total of 30 credits. There is also a foreign language requirement that provides every student with the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of a language learner, like their own future students.
2. How long does a typical MTESOL program take at Arizona State University? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion?
The program is designed to be completed in 3 semesters of full-time study plus a summer course. Students typically complete the program in these 3 semesters or take an additional semester, often by adding more electives. The maximum time of completion to complete a master’s degree at ASU is 6 years.
3. What do you think makes ASU’s MTESOL stand out from other similar programs?
To me, the MTESOL program at ASU stands out by its link between theory and practice as well as by its flexibility. Indeed, one half of the required courses focuses on theories necessary to understand the field of TESOL, whereas the other half of required courses focuses on TESOL practice. The internship in particular allows students to observe classes, to develop materials, or to teach, which proves to be an invaluable opportunity for our students to apply ideas they have been developing in their courses. Additionally, our program stands out by its flexibility because students have to take 4 electives. They can thus choose to focus their studies on a specific aspect of TESOL or to take a broad range of classes, which allows them to tailor the program to their specific needs and interests. For instance, some students have explored classes in business or journalism so they can later have the opportunity to teach English for specific purposes (ESP) courses on those topics.
4. How important would you say accreditation is when choosing a MATESOL program?
Accreditation is very important because it ensures that you receive the quality of education you deserve. There are many TESOL degrees or certificates being offered, and not all (especially the short certificate programs) are accredited by widely-recognized organizations. Depending on the accrediting organization, accredited programs regularly undergo a rigorous evaluation process, so you can be sure that they will provide you with the qualifications you desire.
5. There is some debate as to whether or not Online MATESOL degrees are as worthwhile as traditional MATESOL degrees. What steps does Arizona State University take to ensure that online students are receiving the same education that they'd receive in a classroom?
Although we do not yet have an online program in place, we are currently working on creating this opportunity for our prospective students and are focusing on providing the same quality of education provided in our traditional MTESOL program to students who would be taking the online version of the degree.
6. What are the advantages to earning a MATESOL degree in general?
There are many advantages to earning a MATESOL degree. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the job opportunities that such a degree provides. For instance, our graduates have found employment in teaching positions both in the United States and abroad in a variety of institutions, not only in teaching positions but also as specialists in intercultural communication and curriculum development. A second advantage is that, upon entering those jobs, graduates should have confidence in knowing that they have acquired a variety of useful tools: Depending on the TESOL program completed, this may include knowledge of principles of language, learning, and culture(s), as well as ability to critically apply a range of teaching techniques and concrete research designs.
7. Does Arizona State University offer job placement for students who graduate in MTESOL?
Although our department does not offer job placement for students graduating in MTESOL specifically, our faculty regularly organize workshops that focus on various aspects of the job application process. Additionally, our faculty make a point in sending every announcement of TESOL-related jobs to students. We also make sure interested students are aware of useful sources of job-related information, like websites for TESOL, Dave's ESL cafe, and the London Times Educational Supplement. Finally, ASU Career Services (https://eoss.asu.edu/cs) offers an abundance of resources, and we encourage our students to take advantage of these as well.
8. What type of financial aid packages are available for students in TESOL? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?
We do not offer financial aid packages in the traditional sense of TAships or fellowships at this time. However, there are several opportunities on- and off-campus that students can consider. For instance, there are often teaching opportunities at the American English and Culture Program (AECP), the host of intensive English programs, on the ASU campus. For students who are proficient in another language, they can seek TAships from the School for International Letters and Cultures.
9. Do you have any advice for students enrolling in a MTESOL program for the first time?
When enrolling in a Master’s degree in general, students should find out as much as possible about the program by first looking at the website but also by contacting the faculty and asking questions that could not be answered by their website search. Becoming a graduate student means that you should be ready to develop critical thinking skills to become a more independent thinker. Graduate students should also seek out every opportunity to grow and learn, by attending lectures and workshops for example. Communicating with faculty is one of the keys: A visit during office hours may not only clarify specific materials but also point graduate students in interesting, worthwhile academic and professional directions. Such discussions can also show faculty—who you may later call upon to write reference letters for your job applications—that you take your program and profession seriously.
10. What do you enjoy most about your position at Arizona State University?
I’d say that the interaction with students who all bring unique and enriching perspectives in each class that I teach and outside of class is probably one of the most enjoyable things about being the MTESOL advisor at ASU.
For more information on the MTESOL program offered at Arizona State University, visit them online at http://english.clas.asu.edu/gradstudies-mtesol.
Thank you Claire Renaud, for sharing and participating in this piece.
That concludes our interview!