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Instructor – American Language Institute, CSULB
Associate Coordinator of ESL Tutorial Services –
Learning Assistance Center, CSULB

Jessica Mathers Photo

CSULB has been the home of my academic, professional, and personal development since I started my BA in English with an emphasis in literature in 2006. As I shook hands with President Alexander and received my diploma in 2008, I felt accomplished, but I did not feel like my formal education was complete. I took the fall semester off to spend significant time with my ailing grandfather, but in the spring of 2009 I started my graduate studies in English. That same semester, I applied for a position at the Learning Assistance Center, where I had hoped to start tutoring writing. To my surprise, I was hired instead as an ESL Specialist, a position that required me to help English language learners develop both their oral and written language use. This position quickly changed the direction of my focus to second-language acquisition and started to transform my vision of what I saw myself doing after I earned my MA in English.I spent my time as a graduate student absolutely loving what I was learning both in class and at work and feeling enriched by my experiences in so many ways. Not only did my classes provide the intellectual stimulation that I had been craving since I graduated with my BA, but they also provided me with the tools that I needed to succeed as a tutor. Although I was not tutoring native English speakers, I was still teaching English (very literally), and could implement many of my professors’ pedagogical methods in my one-on-one sessions. The most valuable tools that my professors provided me were questioning techniques that I use with my students to prompt them to think critically about their language use in their speech and writing and arrive at their own answers so that they can feel a sense of ownership over their own education. My professors also honed my critical thinking skills, which undoubtedly remains the most invaluable skill that I have taken away from my educational experience in the English Department and use continuously in my professional life. My professors never ceased to ask me to continue thinking; if I provided an answer, they would follow up with another question that required me to respond again and again until I had thought carefully and thoroughly about the topic at hand.

In 2011, I graduated with my MA in English after taking my comprehensive exam in 20th-century American literature. A few weeks after graduating, I started teaching in an intensive English program at the American Language Institution at CSULB, and soon after that I also happily accepted a position as the Associate Coordinator of ESL Tutorial Services at the Learning Assistance Center at CSULB. I continue to work as both a teacher and a coordinator, and I know that without my experience in the English department I would not be lucky enough to work with other students every single day. I love teaching English language learners and hope to continue in this field for years to come.


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