Lee To Add TESOL Major This Fall

Saturday, July 26, 2014
Lee TESOL student Michelle Overman helps ESL camper Isabella Hayes with a project at camp earlier this month (camper Cesar Rivera pictured in background).
Lee TESOL student Michelle Overman helps ESL camper Isabella Hayes with a project at camp earlier this month (camper Cesar Rivera pictured in background).
- photo by Nathan Bivens, Lee University

Beginning this fall, Lee University’s Department of Language and Literature will offer two new tracks in its Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program. Previously offered as a minor only, students can now opt between a BAT or a BA in TESOL.

“There is an increasing demand for teachers that can teach English as a second language, and Lee is responding to that need,” said program director Dr. Chris Blake, assistant professor of TESOL and Linguistics. 

English learners constitute the fastest growing segment of the school-age population. According to the U.S. Department of Education, one in nine public school students in K-12 comes from a home where a language other than English is spoken. In 1990 the figure was only one in 20. By 2025, it will be one in four. 

Dr. Blake added, “Our TESOL program will prepare our students to be leaders in public schools with English-language learners (ELLs) as schools face this huge influx of international students.”

Lee’s current program has grown from 30 TESOL minors in 2011 to 70 minors this past year, and 16 students have already been accepted into one of the two TESOL major tracks for this fall. 

The bachelor of arts in TESOL with teacher certification (BAT) prepares students for a career in teaching English as a second language in grades PK-12. The bachelor of arts in TESOL (BA) prepares students for a career in teaching English as a second or foreign language in a context outside of U.S. public schools.

"The course requirements are actually designed in a way to allow TESOL majors interested in doing missions to feasibly double major,” said Dr. Blake. He added that students will be able to earn a degree in intercultural studies (Lee’s traditional missions track) along with a TESOL degree, which will be useful overseas and upon return to the U.S. The TESOL BA is also well suited with other majors such as communication, foreign language, or anthropology.

According to Dr. Blake, one of the factors that distinguishes Lee’s TESOL program from others is the strong preparation in linguistics. “Preparing students to understand how language works provides them with a greater understanding of the language systems of the students they will be teaching, whether inside or outside the U.S.”

Another distinction is the hands-on experience Lee’s TESOL students acquire working with ELL in the community through the university’s English Language Center.  Students graduate with up to two years of experience, often only found in master’s level programs. They will also have the opportunity to teach overseas as part of their cross-cultural experience. 

English is the world’s lingua franca – the language of the wider community. Knowing English provides economic mobility as it is the stepping stone for many to succeed around the world, enabling them to rise above poverty. Because of this emphasis on learning English, programs to prepare teachers of English to non-English speakers are also in great demand, said officials.

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, the United States tops the chart by far in terms of total missionaries, sending 127,000 in 2010.  Dr. Blake feels that this new program will better equip many of the missionaries who get their training at Lee. “TESOL is such a good fit for Lee,” he said, “because so many Lee students want to make a difference in this world.” 

So whether one wishes to travel abroad for mission work, overseas teaching, business, or graduate school, or plans to stay stateside and help develop English speakers in the U.S., Lee has moved into a better position to provide preparation for those plans, said officials.

For more information about TESOL at Lee, visit http://www.leeuniversity.edu/academics/arts-sciences/language-literature/ or contact Dr. Blake at cblake@leeuniversity.edu or 614-8223.


Campers, students, staff and faculty pose for a group photo during Lee’s ESL camp this month.
Campers, students, staff and faculty pose for a group photo during Lee’s ESL camp this month.
- Photo2 by Whitney Caylor, Lee University

Bright School Presents First Citizen Of The World Award

Becoming wise and compassionate citizens of the world is part of the educational experience at The Bright School, officials said. This year, the school is honoring young alumni for the first time with an award to recognize leadership in service to others. The Class of 2017 presented the inaugural Citizen of the World Award Friday at graduation to Mimi Vance ’10, who graduated ... (click for more)

Virginia College Hosts Bring A Friend Event And Culture Days

Virginia College in Chattanooga will host a Bring a Friend Event and Culture Day on Tuesday and  Wednesday, from  10 a.m. to noon  at the campus at 721 Eastgate Loop. The event is free and open to the public, as the community is invited to experience a day in the life of a Virginia College student. The event will feature refreshments, campus ... (click for more)

Bradley Detectives Investigating Death Of 18-Month-Old Child; Foul Play Not Suspected At This Time

Detectives in the Bradley County Sheriff's Criminal Investigations Division are investigating the death of an 18-month old child that occurred Saturday evening.   Multiple phone calls into the 911 Communications Center led to patrol deputies responding to a residence on Lowery Street, N.E. Upon arrival deputies discovered a deceased child inside the residence, which ... (click for more)

Corker Says President Trump's 1st International Trip "Executed To Near Perfection"

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Sunday praised President Donald Trump for his first international trip.   He said, “I spoke with President Trump at length this morning and told him that I could not be more pleased with his first international trip. The trip was executed to near perfection and it appears the president ... (click for more)

Silence Ain’t Golden Anymore

There are times – moments – in life that you never forget. That night in 1972, sleeping over at my buddy Bart’s house, was one of them. We had been to a middle school concert and his big brother was in the band (very cool stuff for a 14-year-old!) and as we lay on the floor in our sleeping bags in Bart’s room he said he wanted to play a record that his brother listened to. And, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Prove No Improvement

The startling news that this year’s standardized testing was wasted on graduating seniors across Tennessee is most unsettling. This week it was learned the test results, which were to represent 10 percent of our seniors’ final grades, was a total bust. Coupled with last year’s gargantuan testing failure – the whole effort had to be scrapped -- it is now becoming realized that for ... (click for more)