TESOL: Helping Students Find Their Voice

TESOL: Helping Students Find Their Voice

With our current political climate, with the ripples of insecurity and uncertainty being felt throughout our immigrant communities, and in honor of Cesar Chavez day—let us recognize the role that education plays in our societal push for equality. English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers have a critical role to play in the future of our immigrant children.

Language and education are, have always been, and will continue to be two of the greatest barriers to equality for America’s immigrants. Those who cannot communicate in the country’s primary language cannot properly advocate for themselves. So, what better way to give everyone in this nation a voice than to help them learn English?

For speakers of foreign languages, an average school day can seem like the most daunting of tasks. I’m sure most of us can imagine how monumental a task it would be to learn algebra or biology in a foreign language. An ESL teacher’s job description goes well beyond the classroom. ESL teachers are vital to the success of English Language learner (ELL) students. Not only do they help students prosper in the school system, they help students navigate life in a foreign country and help students adapt to a new culture. At Alliant, our lifeblood is impact. And our impact lives through every California School of Education (CSOE) alumnus who is helping students find their voice.

That is why we train ESL teachers to make an impact in their communities through our Teaching English and a Second Language (TESOL) Programs.

We fundamentally believe that education is the great equalizer, and that— as a progressive society—our public discourse must include more than just calls for equality. Our collective activism, should it be called that, must include action. California, and the nation as a whole, is experiencing a teacher shortage crisis. If we are to create an equal playing field from which each child in this country can have the same opportunity to succeed, we are going to need qualified teachers to help build it. We need ESL teachers to fill in potholes and help level the field. We need dedicated coaches on the field—bilingual school staff to liaise with parents who cannot communicate fully in English. And, we need to prepare students to find their way to that field— to find their voice and the ability to advocate for themselves.

It is a moral imperative that we ensure access to a quality education for every child in this nation, regardless of their zip code, regardless of their native language, and regardless of their circumstance. As CSOE Alumna Evelyn Serrano puts it “If you want to be an activist, become a teacher.”