Student Spotlight: Vicki Hale

Our next guest-blogger is College of Education graduate, Vicki Hale, who recently completed her online graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Read about her ambitions and recent fellowship to teach in India. 

Hello, my name is Vicki Hale and I completed my M.Ed. in TESOL and World Language  Education in December 2018. In the fall of 2016, I decided to work on my master’s certificate in TESOL (online offering with UGA) as I had begun teaching ESL in 2014 and loved it so much. 

I completed my bachelor’s degree in business administration about 25 years earlier and had worked in business and nonprofits for many years. But I had also taught a little business English (EFL) in central Russia when my husband, son and I lived there, and I knew it was time for a change! So, I started on the certificate (partly because a GRE was not needed for that!). But, I soon found that I loved learning more about teaching a second language. So, in January 2018 I entered the master’s program in the UGA College of Education. 

The certificate course is completely online and that was easier for me because I was working full time and could take one course at a time. It also enabled me to get back in the swing of academics! I received good feedback from professors and had online interaction with classmates. It also helped me to learn about technology! 

When I advanced toward my M.Ed., I realized that I could not complete it entirely online, so I drove from Atlanta to Athens for several courses. But there were a lot of courses online. Actually I was glad to have to return to the classroom for a few classes, after all education is so much more than online learning! Face-to-face interaction is so important in second language acquisition and it was important for me to spend time with professors and classmates at this masters level. Most importantly, the “service” classes empowered me in ways that are relevant and meaningful in multicultural classrooms. I’m grateful for those experiences as they were/are priceless.

The most rewarding aspects of my program were also the most challenging – living what I was learning. The technology kept me up-to-date and the classroom service projects kept me in real life, putting theory into practice. And so now I get to do exactly that: put all the theory into practice. I kept thinking and dreaming of teaching teachers in another country, so that they can go out empowered into their own country’s rural and underserved areas and teach! This spring I was awarded a fellowship with the U.S. Department of State, in their English Language Fellow Program. Beginning mid-August I will be teaching at a college for women in Visakhapatnam, India – communication and job skills, academic reading and writing to start, empowering middle and low-income women (undergraduate and graduate) to reach their fullest potential as they prepare for their careers. 

As C. S. Lewis once said, “You’re never too old to dream a new dream or set a new goal.” It’s a new chapter that I am just beginning to write, and I’ve been well-equipped – Thank you UGA, College of Education, and Department of Literacy and Language Education!

Learn more about the online TESOL program here