Wednesday, January 4, 2012

ESL Teacher Certificate Program

The English as a Second Language Teacher Certificate Program is a University of Winnipeg certificate program for individuals who would like to teach English as an additional language to adults.

Our students come from diverse backgrounds, but all have a similar goal: working in the field of ESL instruction.

More specifically, the ESLTCP is meant for individuals who:

  • Are currently teaching ESL but have had little education in the field
  • Have switched into English language teaching from other subjects
  • Wish to upgrade their ESL teaching skills
  • Would like to begin a new vocation in teaching ESL
  • Would like to teach abroad
For more information about this program, please contact the Program Coordinator at, or visit us online at

Program Graduates

The following stories all describe the unexpected turns that our professional choices can make, and the similar paths through which these individuals have found meaning.

New stories about our graduates will be posted regularly on this blog. If you are a graduate of the ESL TCP and would like to share your story, please contact us at Thanks!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shannon - Winnipeg Technical College

Shannon O’Gorman is no stranger to the world of EAL instruction. She has lived abroad for over 20 years, teaching EAL in several countries, including with her husband who was running an English school in Japan. However, when she returned to Canada in 2008, she found that this experience wasn’t sufficient for finding employment in the field in Canada. So, in January 2009, Shannon enrolled in the ESL Teacher Certificate Program, viewing it as an opportunity to get her "foot in the door to language teaching within Winnipeg”.

Since graduating in April 2010, Shannon has been teaching and introductory class at Winnipeg Technical College’s English program (CLB 1). She is also teaching a higher level seminar at the University of Winnipeg that adds balance and variety to her day.

Of these experiences and the differences between the two programs, Shannon shares that “I am really enjoying teaching both of these classes. The students at WTC are immigrants who have only been in Canada a short time. They work long hours each day and then spend time away from their families each evening. They are all dealing with challenges of living and working in a new country, but they are also so excited to be learning English, and their enthusiasm is very inspiring. The students in the ELP are here for a shorter time and studying in Canada is often their first experience abroad. I enjoy hearing about their new experiences in Canada, and their lives at home.”

Although she had experience working in the field before she began in the program, Shannon explains that “the TCP certainly opened doors and gave me a lot of new teaching ideas. Although I had taught before, I was not familiar with many theories and methodologies and I generally stayed away from grammar.” In general, she admits that she has found the materials and the learning experience very useful. She shares that “what I liked best about the program was the chance it gave me to make some new friendships and to exchange ideas with other students in the class. Many of us continue to stay in touch. We bonded together as the students in the classes I now teach also do.”

Shannon is now an instructor in the ESL TCP, sharing her humorous stories, energy, and enthusiasm for teaching with new students. It's truly a gift working with her in this program.

Now, although she loves working here, Shannon still has an itch to travel and work abroad, often finding herself thinking " perhaps I should go teach in....."


2009 was a good year for Jennifer Glenwright. Armed with a full backpack and a Central America guidebook, Jen left Canada to spend the next 9 months traveling in Central America. While abroad, Jen studied Spanish and volunteered with local community organizations; surprised at how difficult learning a language was, she decided to start volunteering at with a literacy class at IRCOM when she returned. Jen describes that she was “amazed by the dedication to learn a new language shown by the students in the class”, and found herself drawn to helping newcomers adapt and cope with the demands of their new home.

In January 2010, Jennifer enrolled in the ESL TCP in order to receive formal training and certification in this field. Given her love of travel, after completing the program Jen stated that “everyone asked where I want to go teach!” However, she told them “I am perfectly content to stay here in Winnipeg where I can help immigrants and refugees.”

And she’s doing just that. Still a volunteer at IRCOM, Jen is now substituting at The Language Training Centre at Red River College, and is also applying for several summer program positions. Of this experience subbing, Jen shares that “each class is so different and it is great to get some perspective on what level I would most like to teach in the future.”

Jen concludes with enthusiasm, exuding her passion for her new-found career path. “I really feel as though I have found my niche for the moment. I love interacting with the students! They are all so unique and have different reasons for coming to Canada. This is by far one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever had… I really feel like being an EAL teacher is exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now”

An update, from a year down the road...

Jen is now teaching full-time for IRCOM teaching CLB 1-2 - a position that would have been very difficult to secure had she not spent so much time volunteering there to support beginning language learners. Her dedication to her students is truly inspiring!

For more information about IRCOM, please visit them online at If you are interested in volunteering in an EAL class at IRCOM, you can see volunteer opportunities here:

Linda - Neighbourhood EAL Program (Downtown YMCA - YWCA)

The Downtown YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg offers a neighbourhood EAL program for newcomer women with Young Children. Linda Postma, a graduate of the Fall 2010 ESL TCP is their instructor.

After graduating from the ESL TCP, Linda began volunteering at the YMCA-YWCA in this community-based program. After volunteering for several terms, Linda secured a part-time position teaching in this program.

She shares that the resources provided during the ESL TCP have been helpful in securing, and performing the tasks associated with this position. She says that "I feel more confident in teaching because of the program."

Of teaching in general, Linda shares the following:
"Teaching EAL is great fun. I find the women I work with generally highly motivated. I find the instructors care a lot about their students and they have great energy."

Based on her experiences since graduation, she advises others that full-time work is hard to find. However, volunteering is a good way to get your foot in the door and find part-time work.

If you want to learn more about the Downtown YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg's neighbourhood EAL program for newcomer women with young children, or if you are interested in volunteering there, please visit their website at

Bea - Thompson Multicultural Centre

Bea Shantz, a retired elementary school teacher, spoke about her experiences teaching EAL at the Thompson Multicultural Centre in her retirement as a strongly motivating factor for continuing with her education in this field. “I sometimes felt inadequate for the task but my students encouraged me and said how much they appreciated having instruction from a native speaker of English.” When she saw The University of Winnipeg informational brochure that was included in the Free Press last June, she decided to enroll in the 8 week ESL Teacher Certificate Program for the fall of 2009.

After completing the course, Bea returned to Thompson and immediately found work with the local school district teaching EAL to immigrant children, for which they had received a special grant for about 90 hours of instruction working with 8 students ranging from Grade 1 to 8. Bea describes that the other employment that she has found is private EAL tutoring for adults.

In her experiences in both of these teaching situations Bea shares, “I have been very grateful for the ESLTCP materials - especially for the thorough review of grammar rules and guidelines (which had become a little foggy over the years). The vast number of resources I learned about has also been very useful.”

Bea states that teaching EAL has been a perfect fit. “With a little promotion”, she describes that “in my community I think I could be very busy. The program was very beneficial for me and I feel better qualified to teach EAL programs.”

Since then, Bea has held a variety of positions: "I have worked for the local school district with new immigrant students at the elementary level. I have had contracts to: teach adults at the Adult Learning department of UCN, assist with a new immigrant taking a Millwright course, teach a course to foreign medical personnel and have done private tutoring."

Of her current positions, Bea shared the following: "I am enjoying my present work at two elementary schools helping new immigrants learn English. It is especially gratifying to see the progress some of them made over the summer when I resumed instruction in September. After working with one student individually for several sessions I added another classmate to the group who then commented, "I didn't know my classmate could talk" With encouragement and patience they learn quickly. My other part-time work is with adults and their enthusiasm and good humour makes each class fun and a good learning experience. I have been using the study book called "Step Forward Canada" with this group and they really like the Canadian content of this resource."

Advice for anyone thinking about entering this field? Don't expect full time work or great pay but the personal satisfaction of helping others acquire English in their new country is well worth it.

For more information about the Thompson Multicultural Centre, please visit the following website:

Yaw - The University of Winnipeg

Yaw Amoah-Gyampoh left Winnipeg in 2002 for an English teaching position in Nagoya, Japan, and a chance to explore a country and culture that had long interested him. Recently graduated from his Bachelor of Arts, this was Yaw’s first formal experience with teaching EAL.

After almost 2 years living in this Asian metropolis, Yaw returned to Winnipeg and began teaching part time with several EAL programs. However, after some time, he realized that he needed formal certification to proceed any further in this career.

Yaw enrolled in the ESL TCP in 2007, and after completing this program, found employment in the Intensive English Program at the University of Manitoba. Through IEP, Yaw returned to Japan to teach for a month, before returning to Winnipeg and accepting a position at the University of Winnipeg in the full-time English Language Program.

Since then, Yaw has been teaching a variety of EAL classes to students who plan on attending university in Winnipeg. He describes his current position as challenging and satisfying, stating that he enjoys the community developed among the students within the English Language Program. Although Yaw found work in the field of EAL instruction before he took the program, he states that “the ESL TCP was instrumental in securing employment options that otherwise would not have been available.”

Yaw has recently joined the English for Specific Purposes team in the English for Academic Speaking class, and is thoroughly enjoying the experience. In addition to his work with international students, he is currently the head teacher for the English for Specific Purposes Program, teaching English to internationally educated professionals.

For more information on the ESP Program at the University of Winnipeg, please visit the following website:

for more information about the English Language Program at The University of Winnipeg, please visit: