After teaching English abroad, Chad Baldwin returned to the United
States and began working with the Teaching English as a Foreign
Language Certificate Program at UC San Diego in California, USA.
In this interview, Chad tells us about the features and courses offered
in this high-quality certificate program. With a variety of core
courses and electives, an experienced and passionate faculty, and lots
of hands-on teaching practice, the TEFL program at UC San Diego
deserves a closer look.
Let's find out more in Chad's words.
1. First of all, how did you become interested in the field of
English as a Foreign Language?
When I graduated from college, I didn't want to get a job sitting in an
office behind a desk all day and suddenly one of my friends recommended
teaching English in Korea.
I thought it would be the perfect
opportunity to travel and make money. That was 1994, really before the
big boom in teaching English in Korea, and I had no idea about Korea. I
went for a job interview in LA, got the job, and then moved to Korea in
The first year was the hardest but possibly one of the most
amazing experiences in my life and also the most rewarding. I never
knew teaching was something that I would be interested in, but the
interaction with the students and watching them progress was so
Little did I realize I would stay in Korea until 2011. I
taught a variety of levels from elementary to middle school to high
school and then finally adults at a business language institute in
When I returned to San Diego, I got a job at an intensive
language institute at UC San Diego Extension. Later, when a position
opened up in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program,
I knew this would be a perfect fit for me. I feel passionate about this
field and recommending it to future teachers has it made such a
life-changing impression on my life.
The TEFL certificate program is for all types of people. Some people
obtain our certificate in order to travel the world and experience
different cultures, while teaching English provides them the means and
income to live abroad.
Other people have a passion for English and a
passion for teaching. This certificate program is for those who seek a
long-term career in teaching English and would also like to travel the
world and build their skills and expertise in various different
contexts and communities.
It is also for people who want to teach in
the United States. In other words, it is a program for everyone who
wants to become a teacher to English language learners.
I believe this program is for everyone but unless you have a passion
for teaching, this may not be the best program for you. It is a
challenging program with 270 hours of learning the best practices and
methodology for teaching EFL students.
It is a program that will push
you to be the best well-rounded teacher you can be in grammar,
listening skills, pronunciation and fluency, speaking skills, writing
skills, reading skills, language teaching and learning skills, and
followed up with a practicum course that will culminate in blending all
these learned skills to produce a highly effective and knowledgeable
3. As the
courses for the TEFL Certification were structured, what was the
guiding principle behind the program?
The guiding principle behind developing this program grew out of a need
to provide a program that dealt specifically with preparing teachers to
teach English language learners both in English-speaking countries and
in non-English-speaking countries.
We were once part of another
certificate program here called the TESOL Certificate Program, but that
program was more geared toward the K-12 (primary and secondary school)
teacher in California that needed to adhere to specific standards in
public education. We wanted to be a more inclusive program. Thus, the
TEFL Certificate was born.
We also wanted an opportunity to create a
new curriculum geared specifically to our large world-wide audience. We
were able to create courses that fit today's world of English language
4. What special
opportunities does your program make available to its students? What
sets it apart from similar programs?
Our program is taught by an amazing group of teachers, all with a
master's in the field, some with PhDs, and with a minimum of seven
years of experience teaching all over the world. Therefore, the
students are getting a first-class education from a team of
highly-skilled instructors, all within the esteemed educational
surroundings and with the brand name value of UC San Diego.
Our Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) program is unique in that
we provide 2 fieldtrips per quarter to a nearby Learning Center and an
elementary school in San Diego where students can learn first-hand the
different teaching techniques and styles of native English teachers.
With hundreds of graduates in the US and around the world, we have
built a network of recommended schools, agencies and partners that we
work with to assist our graduates in finding job opportunities and
possibilities in many countries including the US, China, Japan, Korea,
and Turkey. A key concern to our graduates is finding jobs and we do
our best to point them in the right direction and give them as much
support and information as we can.
introduction to the Certification program talks about "global English
and cultural competency in international communication." Could you tell
us what these concepts mean to the program and how they enrich a
We all know that English no longer belongs exclusively to the
English-speaking countries. There are more people studying English than
there are native English speakers. There are more non-native speaking
English teachers in the world than there are native English-speaking
Thus, we understand that we are not just teaching "American"
English. We are teaching English as a global language that will be used
by millions of people who may never come to North America, but they
still need to be competent in English in today's global world.
goal, therefore, is to provide teachers with the foundations of the
English language that will serve their students wherever they are
studying English. As a global language, English cannot be linked to any
one country or culture; rather it must belong to those who use it.
Hence, the typical relationship that exists between culture and
language is essential. That relationship affects the types of materials
we use in the classroom. Our ultimate goal is enable English learners
to use English to share their own ideas and cultures.
6. In addition
to classroom courses, you also offer online courses. How are these
structured and why did the program decide to offer them?
Currently, we only offer 2 classes online as we have many students in
the program who are busy completing their 4-year degree or working at a
9-5 job during the day. We wanted to offer an alternative to these
However, we also highly value the classroom teaching
environment and feel that our students benefit greatly from a
face-to-face interaction and instruction. Some TEFL certificate
programs are 100% online, and we believe these types of certificates
are not as valued by employers as those with in-class instruction.
Our online classes are offered through a system called Blackboard.
Through this online learning tool, teachers are able to record voice,
video and/or simply provide articles and information for the students
in which the students receive and submit all their assignments,
homework, tests, etc. electronically.
7. The program
includes courses on teaching speaking, pronunciation, listening, and
reading, among other skills. Why is it important for students of your
program to have special training in each of these areas?
Of course, we do believe in integrating the skills, but we also know
that people need to learn how to teach a specific skill, a skill focus.
For example, phonemic awareness is an essential component of developing
We know that if a student cannot pronounce a word, that
word does not become part of that student's active vocabulary, and that
will slow down the reading process.
Our Best Methods in Teaching
Pronunciation and Fluency is key in teaching the phonemic awareness
necessary in reading, and the knowledge of English pronunciation is
necessary in speaking and listening. Each course was designed with the
knowledge of what a good teacher needs to know in order to assist their
learners in developing those specific skills.
8. One of the
core courses focuses on lesson planning. We've shared several
articles on this at Really Learn English, too. What are some
of the most important lessons this course teaches its students?
This is actually a new course for us and a requirement for the
certificate program, starting from summer 2014. We felt that this was a
very important and essential component for our students. It is our
version of a Practicum. The students are guided in lesson planning and
They "teach" their colleagues and receive immediate
feedback on their lessons. They also volunteer in some ESL classes, do
classroom observations, all the while keeping a portfolio of their
materials and lessons. It is a very successful class and the students
who successfully complete this course feel that they are ready to teach
in a real classroom by themselves.
It is one of our most highly rated
courses. In fact, even teachers who have been teaching for a while are
taking this class to upgrade their knowledge and skill set in lesson
planning and lesson delivery.
9. Your program
also offers courses on academic and business writing. What are the
specific challenges of each for learners, and how do these courses
prepare teachers to help face these challenges?
These courses were specifically designed for non-native English
speakers. Many of the participants in our program are non-native
speakers that did not have the opportunity to develop their English
writing skills in their own countries.
They realize the need to develop
their own writing skills if they are going to successfully teach their
own English language learners how to write in English.
10. The program also
includes some interesting electives on bookmaking for young learners,
using music in the classroom, and visual media. Why are these topics
important and how were they chosen?
English is not only developing skills. It is also using the skills in
fun and interesting ways.
The workshop Bookmaking for the EFL Classroom
helps the teacher use found materials (inexpensive materials that
anyone can easily find in the home or store) to make things like clocks
for telling time (out of paper plates), how to make pocket charts, how
to make a book that the young learner can then use to write in as he or
she develops literacy skills. The music workshop provides ways for
teachers to integrate songs and lyrics into their English classrooms
from young learners to young adults.
Language learners usually enjoy
learning English through popular music, and they have so much access to
popular music through the Internet. The visual media workshop helps
teachers to use the media in their environment as language teaching
tools and resources.
Thanks so much for taking
the time to speak with us, Chad! And thank you for representing such an
interesting and useful certificate program for aspiring English