TEFL - Mission and Philosophy

Mission Statement

The Teacher Training Program at the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) at the University of Arizona is dedicated to offering high-quality preparation, education, and professional development for both new and experienced teachers of English as a second or foreign language. As a CEA-accredited program, CESL offers low student-to-teacher ratios, curricula grounded in current theory and research, and diverse classes with students from around the world. Our rigorous and enriching coursework helps our graduates succeed in a wide variety of teaching contexts. This mission supports the CESL mission to serve the linguistic and professional development needs of the University of Arizona and the greater global community.

 

Philosophy

Our curriculum is grounded in a socio-constructivist theoretical framework, in which meaningful learning comes through interaction and collaboration as a means of negotiating meaning and successfully applying the resulting knowledge. Rather than viewing our students as passive recipients of knowledge, we see them as excellent linguistic, cultural, and pedagogical resources whose diversity of experience serves to strengthen the curriculum and challenge notions of a single correct way of approaching language teaching. For this reason, we strive toward a student-centered curriculum that takes into consideration our students’ variety of backgrounds and teaching contexts while challenging them to move beyond their comfort zones and use the diversity inherent in the field as a source of inspiration and inquiry.

Our courses provide a spiraling curriculum that has been designed to give trainees the knowledge and information necessary to serve as effective teachers of English. In addition, they develop the critical insights, understanding, and awareness necessary to question, articulate, and employ these concepts in concrete applications.  As a result, students engage with key theoretical underpinnings of language teaching and complete the program ready to convert this theory to sound practice in their particular teaching contexts.

This is accomplished through repeated cycles of:

  • Reading/viewing carefully selected materials
  • Analyzing and evaluating materials for effective classroom use and teaching context
  • Discussing materials with instructors and classmates
  • Applying concepts from the materials in real-world situations

Deep reflection on the concepts encourages trainees to synthesize their knowledge into a cohesive understanding that will inform their strategies and decisions as teachers.

Successful graduates of our courses are reflective and willing to question their assumptions about teaching and learning and, as a result, modify their own approaches to meet their students’ needs effectively. To ensure that our graduates are successful in their various teaching contexts, we present an array of potential techniques, methods, and approaches to contemporary language teaching with an emphasis placed on the communicative approach and the methods that have been most successful within this paradigm.

"I have attended many different schools around the world to improve my English. However, after I attended CESL, I realized that none of these schools compare."