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Jan. 29, 2003
OSWEGO -- The increasing demand for English language teachers in a globalized market is a driving force behind SUNY Oswego's newest bachelor's degree program.
The teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) major is a pioneering program because it is a rarity at the undergraduate level in the state, said Dr. Jean Ann and Dr. Bruce Long Peng, both of the college's curriculum and instruction department.
"There is a really high demand for TESOL teachers because of the influx of immigrants over the past 10 years," Peng said.
Queries from school districts around the state have underscored the need for such teachers, he added. For instance, a call from Whitesboro sought leads for someone to work with 20 Mandarin-speaking children in that district.
Freshman Leah Guhin, who is among the first in the new program, is pleased that Oswego added the major.
"I chose Oswego because of its education program, but I changed my major to TESOL from childhood education when I learned that they had it, because that is what I really want to do," Guhin said. "I was happy to find that Oswego offered it because not many schools do."
The program combines a linguistics core from Oswego's College of Arts and Sciences with teaching classes from its School of Education. It "provides the linguistic background as well as the teaching skills required to enter this field," Ann said.
Graduates will benefit from having a background in linguistics because it "unlocks languages and really helps a student make a connection between where they are and where they need to go" in terms of learning and teaching, Ann said.
Both Ann and Peng earned their doctorates in linguistics.
Students are urged to take "at least one course in a language the participant hasn't studied in high school, such as Mandarin, Japanese or American Sign Language" to help them "know a little bit more about how another language works," Ann said. "You want to get all the exposure you can to other languages."
One potential partnership is between TESOL majors and participants in the college's Summer Intensive English Program. Such a pairing would help TESOL majors better realize the struggles experienced by those learning English and would provide extra attention to the summer students, Peng said.
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