Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages: How far will a minor in TESOL take you?

Author: Charlene Dundek

The Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC) is excited to offer a new minor in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). The program offers the opportunity for students to study linguistics education, learn how to teach English, and develop classroom management and lesson planning skills. The benefits from this program are far-reaching and especially relevant for students with an international focus or who wish to teach English one day.


Ryan Schultheis, a 2015 Notre Dame grad, benefited immensely from his exposure to TESOL at ND. He participated in the CSLC’s TESOL Certificate Program as an undergrad, and the experience opened new paths for his future and led him to apply for a Fulbright program. At the end of his senior year, he received a Fulbright ETA (English Teaching Assistantship) grant. He is currently teaching English at a public high school in the linguistically diverse state of Oaxaca, Mexico. He also volunteers at the Centro de Orientación del Migrante (COMI), which is a shelter for people fleeing from persecution throughout Central America.


Schultheis with his students following a presentation of Hansel and Gretel


While at Notre Dame, Schultheis studied Spanish as an International Economics major. He notes that his “dedication to the Spanish language single-handedly shaped my undergraduate experience.” He sought out and participated in an impressive amount of opportunities, including a Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP) teaching English and working as a bilingual caseworker in an emergency food clinic at Catholic Charities in Dallas; studying abroad in Santiago, Chile; interning with Advocates for Human Rights in Minneapolis in the Refugee and Immigrant Program; serving as an interpreter for National Immigrant Justice Center Externship program through ND Law; and receiving a grant from the Nanovic Institute to travel to Spain during break to conduct interviews for his senior thesis.


Additionally, throughout his four years, he worked with the Community Alliance to Serve Hispanics (C.A.S.H.) in partnership with La Casa de Amistad, which taught bi-weekly English classes for adult learners in the local community. With this powerful experience, Schultheis said, “I not only gained insight into best practices for second language acquisition, but also built relationships with my students that catalyzed my interest in the migrant experience.” His desire to further develop his understanding of language acquisition led him to sign up for the CSLC’s TESOL Certificate Program during his junior year.


The Certificate Program, or “bootcamp,” was a 55+ hour “week-long crash course” that was “unapologetically rigorous, yet entertaining.” It sought to teach communicative language tactics in an immersive classroom environment. According to Schultheis, the training he received “provided a nuanced approach to second language acquisition that continues to inform my lesson plans.” His exposure to TESOL in the Certificate Program significantly increased his interest in applying for Fulbright and led him to where he is today.  


Schultheis with his tourism students celebrating the traditions of turkey day


In his own words, Schultheis says, “Teaching English is a wonderful way to experience other lands and cultures. TESOL training will certainly open doors following graduation, fostering the Fulbright Program’s goal of ‘cross-cultural understanding.’ In an increasingly connected world (socially and economically), such an understanding is indispensable.”


For additional information, please visit the following pages:

TESOL Certificate Program






Originally published by Charlene Dundek at cslc.nd.edu on December 16, 2015.