Many graduates of BridgeTEFL programs go on to teach English abroad or teach online, but TEFLOnline student Jacquece Moore decided to earn her certified for a different reason. She’s a volunteer English tutor at a local literacy center in her hometown in Maryland, where the focus is on improving students’ English skills – to improve their lives. Read an interview with Jacquece to learn more about her experience as an ESL tutor in the USA.
Hello, my name is Jacquece Moore and I am a resident of Maryland, USA. In college, I studied psychology – I thought I wanted to become a psychologist, but over time, I decided to go into early childhood education. As a teacher, I loved seeing my students’ lightbulb come on when they understood a new concept. I was in this field for 15 years; however, four years ago was the last time I taught because of an issue with my child.
Why and how did get into private English tutoring?
Around March 2018, I passed by a brochure at a public library from the Literacy Council of Montgomery County (LCMC), for a program where individuals can become ESL tutors (volunteers) for people who want to learn to English. I decided to do this because I love to help the community and wanted to fill in the gap of not working.
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and how did you choose your course?
After finishing the ESL tutor training with LCMC, I decided to become even more educated in ESL. I asked a few of my friends and family who have been in this field of teaching English for years (home-based, overseas, and online), and someone recommended Bridge TEFL. I signed up for a TEFL certification course: the 120-Hour Master Certificate. I have never felt so excited in any field as I do in this one, and I am enjoying the certification program.
Tell us about your tutoring position and your student.
The Literacy Council of Montgomery County assigns a student who needs tutoring, then the tutor and student communicate with each other and schedule their own time to meet at a local public library. Each tutor may have up to two students for a year’s time, two hours per week.
My student is from China and she is 57 years old. She stated during the interview for tutoring, “I want to read and write English so that I can help my grandchild do homework.” The program provides all materials for the student and the tutor. Since the book gives detailed lessons, I do not have to do lesson planning. I currently work only on Wednesdays, but I do want to do other times in the near future. After my year is up, I am considering tutoring full-time as a paid ESL educator.
Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had as a tutor?
One of the most recent funny moments when tutoring my student was when one day I was teaching her about health. There was a picture of a woman who had a fever, which was the correct word to look for in the book. The lady in the picture had a thermometer in her mouth. My student seemed confused. Finally, she asked me, “What is this?” (pointing to the thermometer). I said, “That is for when you are not feeling well. Nurses put it under your tongue when checking your body temperature.” She burst out laughing and said, “Oh, I thought it was a cigarette.” I could not keep a straight face; that was too funny.
What are your impressions of tutoring ESL now that you have some experience?
I have built years of experience in early childhood education and recently have put that aside because I cannot imagine individuals living somewhere without communicating or supporting their child, grandchild, niece, or nephew when they are trying to complete their homework in English.
As a one-on-one tutor, it is powerful. In three months, I have seen my student grow in many ways, even in how comfortable she feels around me. In the first month, she seemed to be willing to learn but scared to ask questions in English, or read, or write. Now, her self-esteem has blossomed so much. I see it in the way her eyes and body language express her excitement. I can also tell the difference in the way she reviews the lessons in between each class now, compared to the first month of tutoring her. Due to her increase in reading, speaking, and writing in English, she is now able to have memorable times with her grandchild while he is doing his homework. I look forward to continuing to support any individual who wants to learn English.
Do you plan to take your TEFL career further (i.e. teach abroad, etc.)?
I would not trade this ministry for any other way. I am very humbled to have this awesome opportunity as an ESL tutor and also to get more experience as a teaching assistant in an ESL classroom from the LCMC. Soon, I would like to be in a master’s degree program for ESL.
LCMC is always seeking volunteers around the Montgomery County, Maryland area. If you are like me and want to teach ESL but do not want to leave the United States or cannot due to responsibilities here, I highly recommend you take a BridgeTEFL certification course and volunteer or become a private tutor in your city. You can help close the gap for people who lack English skills.