Teaching Global English
in a Global World

An Interview with Chad Baldwin
from the TEFL Certificate
Program at UC San Diego

UC San Diego TEFL logo
Chad Baldwin is the advisor for the TEFL Certificate Program at the University of California, San Diego. He is an experienced English teacher himself and is passionate about sharing his expertise and special outlook on English with anyone interested in become a teacher of English as a foreign language.

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.

Chad Baldwin

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 1995.

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 amazing.

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 Seoul.

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.

2. Tell us a little about the TEFL certificate program at UC San Diego. Who is it for and who is it not for?

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 teacher.

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 instruction.

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.

5. The 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 teacher's capacities?

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 teachers.

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.

Our 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 students.

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 reading skills.

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 lesson delivery.

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 teachers.

Find out more about UC San Diego's TEFL certificate program on the university's page.

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