TESOL Postgraduate news

Interview with Khadija Elbashir

Why a degree in TESOL?

I have been teaching for almost two decades now, in a number of capacities. These positions include direct teaching, as well as support roles. As a Secondary teacher, Early Childhood teacher and Sewing teacher . These positions span three states and two countries. In everyone of these settings I have watched in frustration while students struggled to understand lessons due to L2 ELL (English Language Learner) limitations. I wanted to retrain as a TESOL practitioner so that I may act as a bridge for students to future learning.

How have you found the course so far?

I have really appreciated the knowledge and awareness this course and its Lecturers/developers have afforded me. One area that fascinates me, as much as it terrifies me, is the way in which we view and/or oppress one another culturally and how this can act as an obstacle to learning. This course has given me the words to describe the misconceptions many of us perpetuate (almost always) inadvertently: Linguistic and Cultural Imperialism. In the initial stages I believed this course was just about learning how to teach english!

What do you think motivates people to strive to learn English as a second language:

I have concluded that no matter where people live, what they do, what they strive to be, their income, education, status, culture or religion we all more or less have the same wants and needs. Since English has become a Global language it can be used to improve the state of one’s life. I like to keep the view that most of us have fairly similar hopes for ourselves and our families at the forefront of my mind when dealing with anybody. I hope the days of labelling-”he’s naughty”, “she doesn't want to learn” etc. are on their way out.

Could you share one of your personal philosophies in teaching?

One of my philosophies in teaching and the ‘what to do’ is rooted firmly in reflecting retrospectively on the ‘what not to do’. What did not work, what was counterproductive, inefficient or ineffective. These views have been informed and shaped by life experiences, as well as work experiences.

Also, my family (by both birth and marriage) spans three continents; Europe; Australia; and Africa. Having lived or visited each of these has confirmed a number of my things for me. One of these is that English is not just being used so that individuals can watch American movies! Learning English is almost always used as a tool to assist a person to improve the quality of their life.

What were your experiences as a L2 English Language Learning in Australia?

They were not very pleasant! I began my schooling in regional Victoria (Australia) in the 1980’s and I recall being discouraged from speaking my mother tongue and encouraged to ‘assimilate’. Bilingualism was at the time a word that was quite possibly reserved just for the enjoyment of academics and unscrupulous policy makers. I was so glad to discover through this course that TESOL researchers and scholars actually support bilingualism and advocate it at worldwide conferences.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Thankfully, times have changed and I’m so glad that what my intuition had been screaming at me for so long: that an Individual’s Identity is inextricably linked to their self-esteem and this has been confirmed by TESOL research. The link between low self-esteem and learning outcomes is also on the agenda and receiving the attention it deserves, and that makes me so happy...