Seasoned Teacher Gains Vital Experience in the ESL Classroom While Completing Certificate


- Sharon Ryou

Term : January, 2015
Department : Education
Program : TESOL

Jeongmin (Sharon) Ryou taught math in Korea for 12 years before moving to the United States with her family. An active community volunteer, Ryou was looking for more ways to apply her teaching skills in Silicon Valley when a friend recommended UCSC Extension’s TESOL certificate program. Within months, she saw a dramatic improvement in her own English writing skills and acquired a new perspective on teaching that she applied to her practicum, aiding in an ESL classroom affiliated with her church. Since completing the TESOL certificate in late 2014, Ryou has applied to graduate school, begun running an after-school program and has plans to start an ESL class for adults at her church.

What skills did you learn?

I had a very positive experience in the program. Before I took classes at UCSC Extension, I didn’t have many opportunities to speak much English. The classes gave me more chances to improve my speaking skills. I had to write a lot and give feedback on my classmates’ assignments. At first I was very nervous to write my opinions on their reports, but I just kept studying, and writing, writing, writing, and over time I saw my writing really improve. I learned a lot of teaching theories and methodology in my classes, which I was able to put in practice in my practicum. Now I feel like I can analyze which methods work well in class, and which ones don’t.

What courses stood out to you?

I learned so many new ideas about teaching that I didn’t learn when I was teaching in Korea. In Korea, so much is taught by rote memorization. The “Methodology of Bilingual and English Language Development” gave me creative ideas. The practicum was the best, though, because I didn’t have any experience teaching in America, and it gave me a chance to collect all the ideas from all of my classes and put them in practice. It was a really positive experience.

Describe your practicum experience.

I volunteered in a beginner ESL class offered through a church. It can be hard to find a mentor-teacher who is willing to let you observe, but when I approached the church, I showed them a letter from UCSC Extension that detailed my TESOL program and my experience, and one of the teachers accepted my proposal. I helped out with a class of 16-20 people, and I got to teach a few lessons.  The host teacher gave me feedback on my teaching, which was very useful, and on my last day, my professor came to my class to observe and grade my teaching. I used visual exercises for learning English, because the students were at such a beginner level, and they loved it because we used material that was easy to understand. I really loved the experience.

Visit our TESOL program page to learn more about UCSC Extension’s unique offerings.

Browse upcoming TESOL courses.

Return to UCSC Extension Student Stories.

Share your Extension story.