Dustin Michael, an associate professor of English at Savannah State University, returned to school in 2019 to obtain an online Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at the University of Georgia. With this degree, he hopes to better serve and support international students in his courses.
Michael’s research identified UGA as a top choice for this graduate certificate.
“There was just no contest,” he said. “I investigated lots of TESOL programs—many of which promised completion in a shorter span of time—but none were as comprehensive or as well-designed as UGA's. It checked all the boxes: world-class faculty, dynamic coursework, and a vibrant, energized and brilliant community of fellow graduate students.”
Humbled by the program, Michael believes every topic covered is fascinating.
“TESOL as an academic field is so different from the literature and writing that I teach, but it connects to those subjects easily and naturally,” he said, “These courses have let me see my teaching and scholarship through a whole new lens. Everything I thought I knew inside and out looks brand new again.”
The online TESOL courses allow Michael the flexibility needed to maintain a career, without sacrificing a quality education. “Students should expect the same pace and challenges they would encounter in an in-person seminar or classroom,” he said.
Armed with the knowledge from these courses, Micahel feels more prepared to work with his students who are English language learners.
“I know how to assess their needs and how to adjust the curriculum and learning environment to assist these students with the reading and writing assignments they receive in my courses,” he said. “Additionally, when I am asked to help with scoring the exit exams for the program across campus that works with international students, I am much more competent and efficient now that I am familiar with the theories and conventions of this field.”
When asked what the program can help him accomplish, Michael explains “there is so much I can do with this information and training. It's changed my whole approach to teaching. I do intend to work more closely with the international program on campus once I finish the program, but that's small compared to how my entire teaching philosophy and style have been remade by what I've learned at UGA.”
Michael looks forward to finding ways for his new knowledge to benefit the Savannah State University campus and community. Michael teaches writing and literature and says there are tons of possibilities beyond the changes he will make in his classroom in terms of increasing literacy and proficiency.”
Michael currently volunteers at a non-profit writing organization that runs an after-school program and he is excited to see how his experiences in the online graduate certificate in TESOL program at UGA can benefit those students.