The English Language Programs team sat down with Patti Juza, Director of the International English Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. She talked to us about her experience employing English Language Fellow alumni and shared some tips for alumni on how to better promote their experience when job searching.
Could you describe your experience working with alumni of the English Language Fellow Program?
We have currently four or five English Language Fellows working in our program. I have to say, we are always impressed with their resumes because of the versatility that’s demonstrated on them. English Language Fellows have a talent for working with multilevel classes and that sometimes happens these days in Intensive English Programs. Enrollments expand and contract, and we’re starting to see fewer lower level students join programs. But occasionally there are and that’s where being able to manage and differentiate instruction in class is really important. We’ve found that a lot of our English Language Fellows have seen it all, they’ve done it all, and they’ve been very helpful in designing curriculum, and working with these populations.
What unique skills or qualities do you think Fellows bring to your program?
I think it’s not just unique skills or qualities, but also experiences that English Language Fellows bring to the table for university-based English language programs. Of course, there’s a certain amount of flexibility that they had to demonstrate in their roles as Fellows, and there’s a versatility that we really appreciate. That goes for curriculum development, designing university prep courses, test preparation, English for specific purposes courses, designing and delivering workshops, and doing a lot of teacher training. Also, the experience with online education—embracing instructional design and delivering courses online, whether it be hybrid or a fully online course. English Language Fellows also present themselves very well. That’s really important to us. There’s a confidence there that Fellows have developed. It’s a confidence, not an arrogance, that I think a lot of us in the field appreciate. Certainly, there’s time management, because a lot of faculty may have experience teaching or developing courses, but these days, we get a lot of late and last minute requests and proposals to deliver programs. Because English Language Fellows have to wear so many different hats and do so many different things at the same time, they are very mindful of deadlines and timelines. That’s very beneficial to us, too.
What does it mean to you when you look at a candidate’s CV and see that he/she is a returned English Language Fellow?
Someone who is tried and tested. There’s a certain amount of initiative and independence that an English Language Fellow has developed. Resources may be stretched or they are not always optimal, but there is this certain quality to their instruction. Also, a lot of self-motivation that’s really important for these types of programs and projects. So, that’s something that’s key for me.
|“We’ve found that a lot of our English Language Fellows have seen it all, they’ve done it all, and they’ve been very helpful in designing curriculum and working with these populations.”|
What sets a Fellow apart from a teacher who hasn’t participated in the program?
I think it’s that ability to manage so many things at one time. One day be doing some kind of online workshop, and the next day doing teacher training face to face, another day, maybe, we need assistance with some background material for an RFP that has just come out. Being able to, on short notice, produce and make a positive contribution to a program. I think that’s something that sets English Language Fellows apart from, say, others who have just come out of school or those who have been teaching in the field for a while. The pace is little bit different. If you’ve been working in a long- standing intensive English language program, there’s kind of a rhythm to it, but, you know, the rhythm has changed because the market has changed. I think English Language Fellows have been exposed to the market outside of the U.S. They know what it’s like. They know what people are looking for, and that kind of feedback to program administrators is really important—it’s valuable.
Could you think of a specific example or experience that you had with a Fellow that really left an impression on you?
Yeah, we have a large program going with the government of Mexico to support military officers. For this year we’ve also been notified that we’ll be doing a program for 50 cadets in health sciences. This came a as bit of a surprise to us! But, one of our returned English Language Fellows has experience in designing and delivering medical English courses. When we announced to our faculty that we have these 50 new cadets coming in May, she stepped up and volunteered to develop the curriculum for that program. It is very exciting for us. We were delighted that she reached out to us and said that this is a project that she’d really like to work on. Even though she’s fairly new to our program, we are confident that it is going to be high quality.
What advice do you have for Fellows who are finishing up their assignments and beginning to job search back in the U.S.?
Be proactive and don’t wait until you are home. Also, making sure to include all those different projects they worked on. If they haven’t done a lot of instructional design and there are opportunities for them to get that experience before they come home, that’s really key. And on their CVs to make sure not to forget to put things down about assessment. For university-governed programs that hold CEA accreditation, learning outcomes are really important. Those are data points that we have to provide to an accreditor. I think that often English Language Fellows have experience in providing outcome information to stakeholders, but it’s not something they always think to put on their resume.
I think there’s a lot of expansion with English for specific purposes, so making sure to list the different kinds of classes they taught or designed in those areas. As opportunities come up on college campuses for those kinds of customized programs or working partnerships with academic departments, it’s really important.
Is there anything else that you feel we haven’t touched on?
The other thing for Fellows to keep in mind is to really document their experience and think carefully about what they want to do post-fellowship. As programs continue to expand and contract and evolve, there are a lot of skills that they bring to the table. Generally, they can write very well— programs always need folks to participate in proposal writing, and also to become part of the accreditation committee on these campuses. I think there is a lot of insight that they bring: Are there other things that that program could be doing to help it to build capacity? What could they lend to professional development for the faculty who are currently there? What experiences do they gain in that university program that they could then take to a project as a Specialist? Do they want to consider going on for a PhD and help train the next generation of faculty members who are going to go out and change the world? I think there are a lot of opportunities out there.
We are all looking for talent. I think an English Language Fellow’s experience is different—it’s not just that someone has worked under tough conditions, but they’ve worked under tough conditions and they’ve produced services, courses, products of such high caliber that could be leveraged in a lot of different ways.
If you want to survive and thrive you have to have that flexibility, versatility to be able to do it impromptu and own it. It’s hard to train for that. There’s a sort of indescribable something—you know it when you see it. It just happens to be a characteristic that many English Language Fellows share.