BTR-TESOL Unit 1A
© Lynn Henrichsen, 2010
Only the Beginning
Congratulations on accepting an assignment to teach English as a second or foreign language!
You are embarking on a great adventure. Being prepared for that adventure will allow you to
better assist your students with their learning. It will also help you gain richer rewards for
yourself as you teach.
Scenario: Someone knocking on my office door
Over the years, many individuals have knocked on my office door, called me on the phone, or
sent me letters or e-mail. All of these people were about to become involved in the teaching of
English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), but they had no preparation for doing so. They
were going to teach English by virtue of the simple fact that they spoke English.
These people have been of varying ages and have come from different backgrounds. Many have
been young college students about to travel to a foreign country, quite a few have been older
retired couples determined to do something useful in their golden years, some have been
professors headed abroad, others have been literacy program administrators working with
immigrants and refugees, and a few have been church leaders. Some were going abroad, to
countries where people needed English skills to advance in their education or employment.
Others were staying in their home communities, where they were working with refugees and
immigrants whose English skills and financial resources were limited. Despite this diversity, they
have all had one thing in common: they were all looking for “the book” that would tell them how
to teach English to speakers of other languages.
Well, on the bookshelves of my office, I have nearly 600 books dealing with many aspects of the
complex, challenging process of English
language teaching, but not one of them was
precisely suited to the needs of these
unprepared novices looking for “the book.”
When they came to my office, I used to scare
these well meaning individuals by waving my
hand at all the books on my shelves and
asking them which of these many books was
“the book” they were looking for. Deep
down, I sort of hoped they would be
intimidated, realize the great challenges of
teaching English, change their minds, and
leave the work to the professionals, like my
colleagues in the TESOL organization or the
graduates of university-based TESOL
teacher-preparation programs, such as the
ones I have worked in.
My current response, however, is different.
Now I say, “This is your lucky day! I am writing the book that you are looking for. It’s title is
Basic Training and Resources for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
The Least You Should Know and Where to Go to Learn More
Why this change in heart?