TESOL Courses the Springboard to a New Career

Sylvia Cossar photo

Graduate Update, 2016:

Not everyone is sure if what interests them is what they are meant to do for a living. With the Certificate Program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Sylvia Cossar got her feet wet teaching English as a second language (TESOL), and the experience confirmed that she was on the right path. Spurred on by knowing that this is the right career for her, Cossar went on to transfer her Extension credits and complete an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at the University of San Francisco (USF).

The courses at Extension were a wonderful springboard for a new career in TESOL.

"During that time," Cossar adds, "I also started working as a paid teacher at ILSC Language Schools, a wonderful intensive English program in San Francisco, as well as at a few other schools in the area. I also taught English to students privately, both in person and online."

A move to Portland, Oregon, last year didn't hinder Cossar’s progress on the ESL career track. In fact, the move provided her with new opportunities to flex her TESOL skills.

"Since August I have been working at Lewis & Clark College as a visiting instructor in the Academic English Studies department," says Cossar. "As I move forward, I'm now contemplating other options within the realm of ESL. I love teaching, but I would like to broaden my scope by marrying my previous career experience in trade show coordination, meeting and event planning, and office management with my education in TESOL. I'd like to use my project management skills in a role that supports others in achieving their educational goals. I'm not sure where my new career goals will lead me, but I'm excited to see what is around the corner.

"The courses at Extension were a wonderful springboard for my career transition into TESOL," expounds Cossar. "In the certificate program, I took excellent introductory classes, including Sedique Popal's Second-Language Acquisition course, which allowed me to see that teaching English to second-language learners was the direction that I wanted to go in. The courses were the perfect first step on my new career path."


Sylvia Cossar loves English—so much so that she wants to impart her knowledge to adults at the community-college level as an instructor of English as a second language. She has a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley, and given UC Berkeley Extension's association with the main campus, Cossar feels confident in the high-quality education in the Certificate Program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

A perfect example of that is Sedique Popal's Second-Language Acquisition course. "I found the subject fascinating; it gripped me," Cossar says. "Looking back on it, I'm able to say, ‘Wow, he put us through a lot, but look at how much I've learned.' I can't stress enough how impressed I was with the qualifications of the instructors. Having come from UC Berkeley, I feel that I have a high standard. And Extension definitely met it."

Cossar is currently applying her Extension education to the courses in University of San Francisco's TESOL graduate program. Because Extension partners with USF, all of Cossar's units from the certificate are applied to her master's track. "Extension really prepared me well," she says. "It's a rigorous program, and I'm grateful that I received the tools I needed from my instructors at Extension."