Colombian English Teacher Discovers Online Learning at UCSC Extension


- Gina Bello, TESOL Alumna

Term : March, 2014
Department : Education
Program : TESOL

Gina Bello got to know a different side of Silicon Valley’s biggest corporations during the summer she spent volunteering as an ESL teaching assistant. Bello had relocated to Northern California from her native Colombia to earn a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She also started volunteering with a local nonprofit dedicated to providing English instruction to property-service workers.

“There is a lot of commitment among adult learners who want to be proficient in a second language,” she says. “I saw that I could be helpful in teaching them to communicate in English.”

The teaching methods and theories she learned in her TESOL courses at Extension were essential when she started teaching at tech powerhouses such as Google, Yahoo and Cisco. As a former elementary and high school teacher, Bello appreciated the program’s emphasis on classroom management skills and strategies for working with language learners of all ages.

As an international student, Bello was first drawn to Extension’s program because it offered F1 visa sponsorship and the opportunity to qualify for Optional Practical Training (OPT)—and because the entire certificate could be completed in one year. She also wanted to take advantage of Silicon Valley’s unique location and its high concentration of major companies that employ foreign workers. In her “Building Online Learning Communities” course, she developed a passion for online education.   

“This was my first experience taking an online class,” Bello says. “I’ve seen the progression of teaching as a field and as a business, and everything’s moving toward technology and e-learning. I liked getting to know my strategy as a teacher and learning how to become more dynamic and modern.”

Bello completed her certificate program in Winter 2014 and hopes to eventually pursue a master’s degree in TESOL. She is on the lookout for teaching opportunities in California, but ultimately expects her teaching skills to take her around the globe.

“The program was intensive, and I’m seeing the rewards now,” she says. “We’ll see if I can be a pioneer.”

Visit our website for more information on UCSC Extension’s TESOL program. For information on services and programs for international students, visit our International Programs pageBrowse upcoming TESOL courses.

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