Helping Immigrants Adjust to a New Culture Through TESL

Derek Merrill photo

Derek Merrill thinks back to when he was teaching at the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Literature, Communication and Culture (Atlanta) as a defining point in pursuing a career in teaching English as a second language.

"I had a lot of students from India and Korea, and I didn't know how to help them," he says. "They were really well-meaning and bright students, but they came in with such weak writing and speaking skills." Now an instructor in the University of California, Merced's Merritt Writing Program, Merrill's career aspirations are that much stronger. With a class of 20 students, only six of them native English speakers, Merrill turns to the Certificate Program in Teaching English as a Second Language to hone his craft.

"I want to help my students learn to write, communicate and articulate their thoughts in a clear way," Merrill says. "In the future, I'd like to help immigrants with their speaking skills and adjustment to a new culture."

Despite the two-hour drive from Merced to Berkeley and the delicate balance of completing schoolwork while teaching, Merrill finds joy in completing the certificate. "I'm inspired by my colleagues and the instructors," he says. "They're so knowledgeable and highly inspiring, and I take what I've learned from them into my classroom."

Check out our ESL careers infographic.