The English Language Teaching & Learning Department Open House was held on Nov. 16 at the Aloha Center, celebrating 50 years of the TESOL major and a journal called TESL Reporter, published by the ELT Department in 1975.
Mark James, a professor of the ELT Department and editor of the TESL Reporter, said the purpose of the open house was to recruit students to the TESOL major in addition to the celebration.
The open house consisted of different sessions promoting information about recruitment, the journal, history of the major, internship and placement information, the faculty’s accomplishments and publications over the years, and the TESOL Club. The club has engaged in a number of services in the community like holding English classes for TVA spouses who are non-students and for their young children.
James said, “The most important reason for the establishment of the TESOL major is to cultivate better prepared teachers who specialized in teaching the language. Before the major was created, the English major students graduated and went down to all of the church schools in Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, etc. They know how to teach literature but not language.
“One thing that is really distinguishing us from the other majors in this school is we have been helping the church. The university and the church saw this program, not just to serve the students.”
James said Harold B. Lee once spoke at a conference in Germany and said, “We want members throughout the world to start studying English.”
According to James, the first people to respond to President Lee’s message were South Korean church leaders. He said they called BYU and said they needed a program to help them learn English.
He said the program started with helping bishops and stake presidents in Korea. It eventually grew into a larger program in Japan and Hong Kong to help church members learn more English so they could communicate with church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
James continued, “Our faculty has been helping the church and continues to this day. We are [also] developing companion study manuals for missionaries to improve their English.
“We are teaching them how to improve the acquisition. We also learn a lot about the language itself from the linguistic courses.”
Josh Jung, a BYUH alumnus from South Korea and special instructor for the ELT Department, said, “If you are considering a TESOL major, first of all you have to love to teach.
“I personally really love my major and want to be a university teacher. That’s why I chose the TESOL major instead of the TESOL education major, which is mainly for primary and high school teaching.”
James said the TESL Reporter is a free online journal for English teachers around the world. “Our university has been famous in this particular field of English as a second language because of this journal. It is read in over 100 countries.” TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language.
“It is a journal for and by teachers of English as a second language. All of the articles are about teacher’s experiences [with] teaching EIL classes and tips of teaching English as a second language. The journal is read in countries where the church cannot go yet, so it is a little bit of missionary work. We make friends for the universities in places like Cuba where the church cannot enter. It is a nice missionary tool.
The BYUH TESOL Department publishes the journal twice a year, said James. “We have people from various universities to help us review if the articles are worthy to be published. The ESL teachers are both the authors and audience of this journal. Teachers are sharing their good ideas with each other.”