Interview: Joel Hardman, Professor of English as Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


Joel Hardman, Professor of English as Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, joins us today to discuss Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

1. Can you tell us about the Masters in TESOL (MATESOL) programs offered at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville?

Our degree is a Masters in English with a specialization in TESL, and totals 30 credits (10 classes). We strive not only for a balance of theory and practice, but a program-long integration of the two. Our practicum experience is designed to cut across the length of a student’s program so that they can make connections between what they’re learning in coursework in linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, and teaching methods with what they see in actual ESL classrooms. We also offer a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in TESL, which is only 18 credits (6 classes).

2. How long does a typical MATESOL program take at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion?

Most of our students take two years to complete the program, though it could be done in a year and a half.  The maximum one can take is six years, though a student can ask for more.

3. What do you think makes SIUE’s MATESOL stand out from other similar programs?

Along with the integrated practicum, I think what is distinctive about our program is its diversity. Our students are a mix of domestic and international, with interests in teaching children or adults in a variety of contexts (public schools, IEPs, community colleges etc.) locally or abroad. Basically, almost anyone can find a home in our program! We have good relationships with K-12 school districts, local colleges and IEPs, and SIUE will have an on-site Intensive English Program starting in January 2015, which will be a great asset to the program.

4. How important would you say accreditation is when choosing a MATESOL program?

It is very important that the degree is from an accredited university, and that if you offer teaching credentials (we offer the coursework required for endorsements in ESL and Bilingual Education) that your Teacher Education programs are accredited, as are ours.

5. What are the advantages to earning a MATESOL degree in general?

We consider an MA as about professional development – not just teacher training. As such, we focus broadly on developing inquiring, reflective language-teaching professionals. Such a graduate program best prepares students for the wide variety of settings and learners our alumni will encounter in their careers – no two classrooms are alike.

6. Does Southern Illinois University Edwardsville offer job placement for students who graduate in MATESOL?

We have no formal placement service in our program, but we work hard to provide students with any local or international job opportunities that we become aware of, using a listserv that goes out to all our current students and alumni. And of course, the faculty are active recommendation letter-writers! Our alumni have been quite successful finding work in schools and colleges, here and abroad.

7. What type of financial aid packages are available for students in TESOL? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?

SIUE has a wide variety of awards, scholarships, and assistantships for graduate students. The English department itself offers many students Teaching Assistantships that involve work in our First Year Writing program teaching composition to international students. My experience is that if a student works at it, he or she will find a graduate assistantship somewhere on campus.

8. Do you have any advice for students enrolling in a MATESOL program for the first time?

I would say to focus on what will help you be a life-long engaged and critical professional in education, and not just on what will help you meet short-term vocational needs. Be curious and think broadly! Maybe one day you will be teaching the alphabet to children in Prague, or grocery shopping to adult refugees from Iraq, or research-paper writing to doctoral students from all over the world.

9. What do you enjoy most about your position at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville?

Overseeing student practica! There is nothing more interesting to me than a language classroom, and I get to see such a wide range of types of classrooms and English learners. Engaging in professional-development conversations with our students about their classroom experiences is so much fun!

For more information on the MATESOL programs offered at SIUE, visit them online.

Thank you Joel, for sharing and participating in this piece.

That concludes our interview!