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New ESL Minor

by Katie Cunningham

“Bethel College is one of the only schools in the immediate area not offering an ENL (English as a New Language) certification. The changing demographics of the Michiana region make adding the program an important area of academic expansion for the school,” said Bethel alum Dr. Eric Oglesbee. He is now Bethel College’s first Assistant Professor of Linguistics and is organizing a team to develop an English as a Second Language (ESL) program.

Returning to their alma mater, Oglesbee and his wife Adjunct Professor Lisa Oglesbee earnestly anticipate launching a promising TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program for Bethel College. With a diverse academic background, Eric Oglesbee will teach a variety of courses while helping to introduce TESOL specific and linguistics courses into the curriculum.

Assistant Professor of Education, Dr. Nancy Ryan, and dean of the school of Education, Dr. Stuart Yager, are also a part of the team to discuss and develop this ESL program. According to Oglesbee, this team will work towards developing a minor that will meet the state requirements for ENL (English as a New Language) certification. This minor should be accessible to education and non-education majors. Bethel anticipates offering some of the classes for the minor in the 2009-2010 school year. At the same time, Bethel will be applying for state certification, so the minor may not be official until 2010-2011.

Some of the possible courses for this certification include Introduction to Linguistics, Phonetics, Methods in Second Language Education, Specific Methods for TESOL, TESOL Practicum, and other elective courses related to language and culture. After the basics of the program are implemented, Bethel may need to hire another faculty member with a Ph.D. in TESOL to cultivate a higher level program.

Within four years, Bethel plans to add coursework at the Master’s level so that graduates can work toward the ENL certification and receive graduate credit as well. In the long term, Bethel expects to add an ESL/ENL major that would be taken as a double major. Moreover, Bethel intends to add a short, one month, intensive program for an institutional certificate in TESOL.

“I think this program has the potential to draw additional students to campus, as well as enhance the services we can offer our current international students,” said Eric Oglesbee. “Given the ethos of the college, I think that TESOL could become a signature program, much like American Sign Language and nursing.”