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Teaching ESL Certificate Program with Ecuador Immersion Experience
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Sarah Losco

Liberal Arts Major: English
Other Major: Secondary English Education
Minor: World Literature
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

In Ecuador, I had the unique opportunity to teach an English language class at the University of Cuenca. We followed a sheltered instruction model that involved teaching English language skills through the content theme of refugees. After the rigor and long hours of work that went into planning lessons and teaching my students, their final project presentations were the best part of the entire experience for me. The creativity and dedication they exhibited in their projects showed me how far they had come in both their English skills and new knowledge of the content theme. Seeing the fruits of the hard work that went into my classes was so gratifying, and it really made me exited for when I will get to work as a teacher in my future career.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Besides the hands-on experience of teaching that we were able to participate in, we were also engaged in three other Penn State courses during our time in the program. During our language theory class, I was able to make many connections between TESL theories of teaching English Language Learners and my work in Penn State Learning's Writing Center. A topic that I took particular interest in is a newer theory called "translanguaging." I am interesting in doing research regarding translanguaging, and one of my professors from the course asked me if I would like to co-author a piece with him about it. This experience heightened my understanding of and interest in the topic, and I think that this might be something that I am interested in pursuing as my Schreyer Honors College thesis topic.

"Seeing the fruits of the hard work that went into my classes was so gratifying, and it really made me exited for when I will get to work as a teacher in my future career."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

Once I have received my degree in Secondary English Education, I will be able to apply the Teaching ESL certification that I earned from this program to it. Before the program, I was not sure that ESL was my end-goal for my teaching career, but the program has helped me to understand that ESL is about so much more than teaching grammar. The field of TESL encompasses many of the things that I am passionate about including teaching, advocacy, and current events. The Ecuador immersion program has definitely inspired me to go into TESL and maybe even teach abroad.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Without the support of the Paterno Fellows Program, this experience would not have been possible for me. Because the program includes so many credited Penn State classes, the overall cost of the experience is very high. Without the Paterno Fellows Program, I would not have been able to participate. I could not be more grateful for the support and the chance to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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