Creating a more equitable world with the Certificate in TESL Linguistics
Meghan Rockwell always knew she had a love of language and a love for teaching, but after finishing high school, wasn’t sure what her next step would be. Now graduating from SFU with a double major in Linguistics and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Linguistics, Meghan is hoping to use her knowledge of language to help move forward into a more equitable world.
One of the things that interested Meghan about the study of Linguistics was the way that language intersects with identity, social justice, and social equality. “Language is simultaneously shaped by and is shaping our culture,” says Meghan. “Linguistics to me is the foundation of all other studies.” Learning how topics like syntax, semantics, and sociolinguistics could be used to combat prejudices that speakers express in their language inspired Meghan, as a member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, to fight for justice for groups who are often overlooked within society.
Meghan is now bringing her passion for social equity to the ESL classroom where she works as a LINC Instructor in the same school where she completed her 30-hour practicum. The school she works in provides free English classes to immigrants, refugees, and newcomers to Canada. The focus of the classes is not to ensure that students learn the specifics of English grammar, but rather to promote the application of language knowledge in communication. “The students are learning the language skills they need to survive and thrive in English speaking society, not the differences between verbs and gerunds,” says Meghan.
The practicum required as part of the Certificate of TESL Linguistics was one of the stand-out experiences for Meghan in her time at SFU. Learning and observing in a real classroom setting and getting to see the theories and practices that she had learned about in lectures actualized in a classroom setting was particularly rewarding. “It was an accumulation of all the theories and practices I had learned coming full circle,” she says.
One particular highlight of her practicum was getting to create a lesson on American Sign Language (ASL). Despite being nervous about how the lesson would go, Meghan’s class was incredibly engaged by the topic and the lesson prompted a discussion about Deaf culture and how the grammar of a signed language differs from English. By teaching this lesson and lessons like it, Meghan learned to trust the skills that she had learned throughout the Certificate program.
Meghan’s advice to students who are thinking about applying for the Certificate in TESL Linguistics: “Do it! Don’t concern yourself with what anyone thinks of your career choice. Follow your passions and just live one day at a time.”
Applications for the Summer intake of the Certificate in TESL Linguistics are being accepted up to and including Tuesday May 31, 2022. More information can be found here.