From EAL Peer Educator to JET Programme Langage Teacher
In the summer of his second year at SFU, Matthew Tucker got his first introduction to the world of teaching English as a second language. Having the opportunity to meet people from different cultures and help them in the process of learning English, Matthew knew he had found a field that was interesting to him.
His interest in language learning only continued after spending some time abroad in Japan where he got to know his Japanese language instructors. Getting to know these teachers sparked his love for language learning and teaching. Excited to pursue this new path, Matthew returned to SFU where he jumped into courses for a linguistics major. In the department, he found that he enjoyed the breadth of topics to study within linguistics. From the structured, rule driven study of Syntax in LING 322 – Syntax, to the more abstract study of how language is used in society in LING 309W – Sociolinguistics, Matthew’s favourite courses illustrate the broad scope in the field.
Before applying for the Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Linguistics, Matthew wanted to get more practice with the skills he was learning in LING 362 – Introduction to Teaching English as a Second Language to Adults. His instructor put him in touch with the English as Additional Language (EAL) Services Coordinator for the Student Learning Commons, who offered Matthew an opportunity to volunteer with the EAL Peer Educator program. This position allowed Matthew to build further experience in EAL education in preparation for his Certificate in TESL Linguistics application.
The EAL Peer Educators in the Student Learning Commons support multilingual students in speaking English more confidently by facilitating conversation groups and acting as term-long conversation partners. Matthew found that the highlight of being a Peer Educator was getting to know the students he worked with throughout the term. “I feel like a large part of the program for me wasn’t just language exchange, but also a cultural exchange,” says Matthew, “it was always fun to learn more about each other.”
Being a part of the EAL Peer Educators program was not only an opportunity for Matthew to form connections with other SFU students, but he also believes that being a Peer Educator helped him land a dream job. Now graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and the Certificate in TESL Linguistics, Matthew will be heading to Japan this summer as part of the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme where he will get to put his passion for language teaching to excellent use.
When asked what advice he would give to students interested in applying to be an EAL Peer Educator, Matthew said “I highly recommend it; I wish I had started much sooner! I think it’s a great way to get involved in something positive and meet people at the same time.”