I’ve begun looking into online graduate programs. For years I’ve thought that I would do a graduate program in history, but the programs that I like all have one requirement that is tricky for me – a foreign language requirement to read and speak the language of my research at the college level. My research would be in Mandarin, a language I have struggled to pick up despite having lived in Beijing for the last six months. Whoever told me immersion was the way to learn had never tried to immerse in a completely foreign language, in a country where everyone wants to practice my native language rather than sit through my stilted and toneless Chinese.
I’ve begun to consider a graduate degree in education. My original intent was to try to find a way to get an elementary ed endorsement, but that can’t be done completely online because there is a requirement to student teach, which can’t be done from Beijing. I’ve put a lot of thought into what that means and I’ve come to the conclusion that I enjoy teaching English and so I will look at an ELL (English language learners) degree.
So now I compose emails to the various ELL heads of online graduate programs, trying to find the best choice. In every email I write, I explain my background – I have a secondary ed degree, and a teacher’s license in IL. I’m currently teaching ESL in Beijing, China and have recently obtained my TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certification. And yesterday I heard back from one of these supervisors who was very determined to ensure that my background has, in fact, prepared me to teach English as a second language. That one took me a moment to wrap my mind around.
In any case, this doesn’t help determine my timeline. It doesn’t really help me figure out what I’ll be doing, except that I am pretty sure I’ll be teaching in America again at some point and I want to be prepared for that. But at least it gives me something else to think about rather than always wondering what I’m going to do next.