TEFL program offers students chance to teach English abroad

Aaron Corpora

Kent State students who want to teach English as a second language, perhaps even in foreign countries, have a unique opportunity through the university’s Department of English.

The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate program is what the Department of English markets as a “home grown” study abroad opportunity. 

Robert Sturr, associate professor in the English department, said students who complete the TEFL Certificate are trained in teaching non-English speakers in places around the world where English is not the primary language.

The program requires 18 credit hours, six of which must be completed in Dresden, Germany. 

“Dr. Klaus Gommlich, a retired member of our English faculty, established this program more than a decade ago in order to provide training for those who see their careers going beyond the U.S. and who want to travel, live, and work in other countries,” Sturr said.

With only about 45 collegiate programs across the country that teach students to teach English as a second language, and with only a few of those being fully accredited, Kent State’s program prides itself on the exposure it gives its students who are in the program.

“The students get a lot of time observing students in Dresden and also doing hands on teaching,” said Jo-Leigh Lyons, an associate lecturer in the English department. “The practicum is very unique among other programs.”

Joseph Peterson, a graduate appointee who is currently working on his Masters said the students get to see and work with other students of all different ages. 

“The youngest students that you might interact with are as young as the fifth grade, and it goes all the way up to people in their sixties and seventies who are taking community classes,” Peterson said 

The program, while most often utilized by people who are looking to be teachers overseas, is open to anyone and has welcomed students from all different kinds of majors to the program.

“We’ve had nursing majors, journalism majors, math majors, pretty much everybody,” Lyons said. “The reason can be to take a break in-between undergraduate classes and graduate schools and to have the opportunity to travel around, get some money and then go back to school.”

Those who have gone on to complete the program have seen their skills take them all over the world. Currently, program graduates can be found in Japan, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, among many other countries in Europe and Asia.

“Students who earn the credential have a very good chance of working overseas,”  Lyons said. “Everyone who wants a job can pretty much get one.” 

Contact Aaron Corpora at [email protected].