Introduction to TESL/Linguistics at
TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language
) is a field that offers great opportunities for employment, career
satisfaction, and intercultural encounters. TESL teachers are
in great demand both domestically and worldwide, and many who engage
in this career find their work challenging, but extraordinarily rewarding.
To be an effective teacher of English to speakers of other languages
is not a simple task. Professional training helps students acquire
some expertise in the structure and uses of language, language teaching
methods and intercultural communication. The TESL curriculum at SIUE
attempts to help students gain a specialized understanding of how languages
and language learning works, construct a working philosophy of language
learning and teaching, gain awareness of the role of cultural and social
variables in language learning, design, organize, conduct, and assess
ESL instructional programs, and observe other teachers and participate
in a practicum for hands-on-experience
Linguistics (sometimes defined as the scientific
study of human language) is concerned with how human languages are structured,
how they are used to communicate ideas and represent meaning, and how
they change. To address these kinds of questions involves a great
deal of complexity and linguistic students study a broad array of topics
such as phonetics (the production of sounds by the human vocal mechanisms),
phonology (how these sounds form meaningful patterns in languages),
morphology (word formation and combining processes), syntax (how sentences
are structured), semantics (how meaning is assigned), pragmatics (how
the various elements of language are used to communicate), and more.
Linguistic study attempts to uncover both the universal and particular
elements of all human languages, with the goal of arriving at important
generalizations about human language and the way language is represented
in the mind. Due to the nature of this task, linguists frequently become
acquainted with a number of languages, but this does not mean linguists
speak many languages. For linguistic study, knowledge
concerning the structure of languages is more important than achieving
fluency in a large number of languages.
The following applies to all TESL graduate students
and Linguistic Minor undergraduates
All TESL graduate students and Linguistic Minors are assigned to advisors
on the basis of the letter of the alphabet with which a student's last
name begins. Please note that your advisor may change throughout the
course of your program, so you should check here each semester for the
most current information.
Advisors for the 2008-2009 Academic Year are as follows:
If your last name begins with A-K ... Your advisor is Joel Hardman
If your last name begins with L-Z ... Your advisor is Seran Dogancay-Aktuna
Please email or meet with your advisor...
...when you want to discuss any problems that are
affecting your academic performance.
...when you would like to discuss your academic progress or anticipate
when to take courses that are offered infrequently.
...when you are deciding whether to pursue the thesis or examination
options for the completion of your specialization.
...when you are preparing for your TESL exit exam.
...when you are getting close to the end of your program and need
to apply for graduation.
...when you want to discuss career considerations.
...when you need letters of recommendation.
...when you are selecting courses for the upcoming semester or considering
adding or dropping courses.
[Note: students are notified via our TESL-ling listserv when registration
becomes available each semester. If you are not yet on this listserv,
contact Dr. Joel Hardman at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Fellowships and Assistantships
Graduate students seeking financial
assistance have two general options for support from SIUE: (1) University
Support; and (2) Departmental Support.
1) University Support
One of the most attractive support options offered by SIUE is the Competitive
Graduate Award, granted through the Graduate School. These
fellowships include a modest stipend and remission of tuition and some
fees. Fellowship recipients are required to carry a minimum of nine
hours of graduate credit (three courses) each semester and remain in
good academic standing; there is no teaching or other work obligation.
More information about this award, including deadlines and application
information, may be found at the SIUE Graduate School's Competitive
Graduate Award page at http://www.siue.edu/graduatestudents/fellowshipsandgrants/index.shtml.
(Please note that the CGA requires students to carry 9 credit hours
at the graduate level; any 100-, 200-, or 300-level courses
taken to help meet a language requirement or other undergraduate deficiency
will not count toward this CGA requirement.)
The Graduate School's website also features information on other financial
assistance programs, including some specifically designed for minorities.
2) Departmental Support
The English Department has one financial support program: Graduate Assistantships
(GAs). English Department GAs usually teach composition and work in
the Writing Center, and anywhere from 5 to 10 such "teaching GAs"
are hired annually. Additionally, the Department employs two GAs to
assist the editors of Sou'wester and Drumvoices Revue;
these GA positions are available irregularly. Students interested in
serving as an editing GA must contact, prior to the
GA application deadline, the editors of the journal in which they are
interested, and must make sure their application materials clearly indicate
their interest in editorial work.
Graduate Assistantships are for the nine-month academic year and provide
both a modest stipend and a waiver of tuition, including one summer
semester. Assistants must take two graduate-level classes each semester;
teaching load is usually one course in one semester and two courses
in the other, with some work in the Writing Center during the semester
in which a GA is teaching only one course. It is possible to complete
the MA program in two years while working as a GA, since the Department
offers graduate-level courses in the summer term. English GAs are limited
to two years' employment, and must be classified, not unclassified,
DEADLINE: Applications for assistantships must be completed and received
in the English Department by February 1.
The SIUE Graduate School website has more information on Graduate Assistantships,
including course load requirements at http://www.siue.edu/graduatestudents/assistantships.shtml.
Note that, as with the Competitive Graduate Award, only graduate-level
classes (those at the 400 or 500 level) count toward meeting the minimum
course-load requirement for Graduate Assistantships, which is two classes
(six credit hours) per term. Please note that graduate students from
outside the United States are generally not awarded assistantships for
their first year of graduate study.
NOTE: students applying simultaneously to
the English Graduate Program and for a Graduate Assistantship
must submit TWO SEPARATE application dossiers: one for the
Graduate Program, and a separate one for the Graduate Assistantship.
As explained in more detail on the Graduate Assistantship Application
the GA dossier, like the graduate program dossier, consists of an application
form, transcripts, a personal statement and/or writing sample, and three
letters of recommendation accompanied by access waiver forms. While
these two dossiers may be identical, it is to your advantage to "tailor"
them; your GA application dossier, for example, may be stronger if it
contains letters of recommendation that address your prospects for teaching
success (or editing skills, if applicable), while letters in the Graduate
Program application dossier may wish to stress the likelihood of your
success in academic research and writing. Your personal statements could
also reflect those different concerns. Students applying for a Competitive
Graduate Award are also encouraged to get letters specifically tailored
to that award.
The Master’s Thesis
Process at SIUE
If you have decided to pursue the thesis option for your M.A., you'll
need to do several things in order to ensure that you're beginning the
process in a way that will facilitate a smooth and relatively trouble-free
ENG 599: Thesis
This is the course in which you enroll when you are ready to begin serious
work on your thesis. While the Director of Graduate Studies will be
the "instructor of record" for this course, you will work
closely with your committee and committee chair during the time you
are enrolled in the course.
ENG 599 may be taken twice, for a total of 6 credit hours. While most
students take the course for 3 hours in two different semesters, you
may enroll for all 6 hours in one term if you wish.
It is not unusual, frankly, for students to underestimate the amount
of time and energy required for the writing of a thesis, which is, after
all, typically 60-75 pages in length, at least. If after taking ENG
599 for 6 credit hours your thesis is still not complete, you may in
subsequent semesters enroll in UNIV 500, a low-cost (currently $37.50)
course that carries no credit hours, but allows you to maintain access
to various campus resources, including the library and computer labs.
Your transcript will show a "DE" ("deferred") grade
for ENG 599 until your thesis has been successfully defended and all
the paperwork processed. This grade does not affect your GPA.
Establishing a committee comes first, and the first step in this process
is selecting a committee chair. Typically your thesis committee chair
will be a professor with whom you have taken at least one class, who
has expertise in your intended field of research, and with whom you
have a very good working relationship. It is standard procedure for
the student to approach the faculty member directly (and preferably
in person) about serving as committee chair.
Once your committee chair is in place, you need to line up the other
members of the committee. Thesis committees must consist of at least
three faculty members. It is not necessary for three members of the
committee to be from the Department of English, but all three members
must be SIUE faculty. If you wish to add a faculty member from another
university, that person will have to be a fourth committee member.
Selecting the other members of your thesis committee is best done in
consultation with the committee chair. You will probably have some sense
of faculty members you wish to work with, but your chair may be able
to suggest other possibilities. You and and your thesis will be best
served by having a committee whose members have expertise that is at
least close to your intended research area.
Some thesis committee chairs may wish to approach these other potential
committee members themselves, while others will encourage you to make
that contact directly. Each particular situation is different, and depends
upon a number of variables. What is most important, in this matter and
throughout the entire thesis process, is that your committee chair be
kept closely informed.
Once a committee has been established, the next step is to discuss your
project with your committee. Ideally, you and your chair will have several
discussions or email exchanges in which you begin to refine and focus
your thesis project, and it is most helpful if your entire committee
is involved at some point. A successful thesis experience involves many
things, and one of those is having committee members who are never surprised
and who never feel left out.
While the Department does not require students to submit a formal Prospectus,
and while at no point during the process do you need any approvals from
the Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies, it is likely that
your committee will require you to write a Prospectus (typically these
are about 5 pages long) and perhaps produce a Bibliography as a way
of establishing the necessary focus and definition of your project.
Registration of Thesis Title
Once the Prospectus has been approved by your committee and/or they
have otherwise signaled their approval of the project, you are ready
to complete the Registration of Thesis Title form,
available online at http://www.siue.edu/graduatestudents/Forms.shtml.
This form is due in Graduate Records the first day of the semester in
which you plan to defend your thesis unless you are planning to do all
of your thesis research, writing, and coursework in one term (rarely
a good idea), you should complete and submit this form as soon as you
have your committee assembled. Specific deadline dates should be confirmed with the Graduate School, Registrar's Office and the English Department.
The Registration of Thesis form requires you to supply the title of
your thesis, among other things, so make sure that your title is chosen
wisely: should you later decide to change it, this form will need to
be filled out and submitted again. You will also need to have all members
of your committee sign the form. You do not need to
submit a Prospectus or a Bibliography as part of the Registration of
Thesis Title form.
This form also requires that you explain the "Nature of Research"
in your project. For most graduate students in TESL this is likely to
have a "field work" component. If you are going to travel
to conduct research, indicate that as well. As for the requirement that
you explain your "information gathering method and sources,"
that's usually covered by explaining that you'll be using the library
and inter-library loan. Of course indicate any other methods or procedures
you'll be using.
Note: If you indicate that you will be interviewing (even by email)
people as part of your research, your project will fall under the "human
subjects" provision; if you are studying classroom behavior or
teaching styles, you will of course be using "human subjects."
If your project uses human subjects in any capacity -- and the Graduate
School interprets this phrase very broadly -- you will have to fill
out a number of additional forms and take online training. For more
information on this requirement, please contact Linda Skeltonat
Once the Registration of Thesis Title form is complete, submit it to
the Department's Director of Graduate Studies, who will then pass it
along to the Graduate School.
The Work in Progress
Once your committee is in place and you've registered your thesis title,
you're ready to begin work. While the specifics will vary, it is expected
that you will meet with your committee chair, if not the entire committee,
on a regular basis. Again, a successful thesis-writing experience is
one that has no surprises. Maintain regular contact with your chair
and committee members, making sure they are receiving drafts of your
materials and that they are seeing how you are responding to and incorporating
As you work on your thesis, review the Graduate School's Guidelines
for the Preparation of a Thesis at http://www.siue.edu/graduatestudents/,
which provides some general guidelines and, most importantly, all of
the layout and mechanical requirements of the final thesis. The Graduate
School is strict about holding theses to the requirements spelled out
in this document; careful reading of it is not optional.
Here is what you will need to do to complete the thesis process, once
you and your committee have agreed that your thesis has reached final
form and is ready to be defended.
To meet Graduate School requirements, you will need to have filed for
graduation at the beginning of the term in which you plan to graduate,
which is typically the semester in which you will be defending your
The Thesis Defense
You and your entire committee will need to agree upon a date and time
for the thesis defense. Typically these last one hour.
After determining a suitable date, you or (more typically) your thesis
advisor will notify the Department's Director of Graduate Studies of
the proposed thesis defense; the Director will then reserve a room for
the defense. (Defenses are commonly held either in seminar classrooms
or in conference rooms in the offices of the Dean of the College of
Arts and Sciences, on the 3rd floor of Peck Hall.) Thesis defenses are
open to the public, and may be attended by the Director of Graduate
Studies, the Department Chair, other interested faculty, and other graduate
students. In fact, you may want to consider attending a defense sometime
before your own, to better get a feel for the process; talk with your
committee chair about this.
A typical thesis defense will begin with a brief (10 to 15 minute) presentation
by the candidate of his or her research findings; this is essentially
a summary of the thesis, although it may cover other topics as well.
This is followed, usually, by a question-and-answer period for the remainder
of the hour.
Two Critical Forms
Once your thesis advisor has notified the Director of Graduate Studies,
the Director will (after reserving a room) prepare a "Summary of
Completion Form" and give it to your thesis advisor. This is a
critical piece of paperwork.
You should also obtain, fill in, and print out the "Thesis Approval
Form," which is required by the Graduate School to be part of your
submitted final thesis draft. You will want to print this form on the
same high-quality "bond" paper on which you plan to print
(or copy) your thesis, per the Graduate School's requirement. Take the
form to your defense and, if all goes well, ask your committee members
to sign it when they sign the "Summary of Completion" form.
This will save you the trouble of trying to track down your committee
members again later. The "Thesis Approval Form" may be downloaded
from the Graduate Studies and Research Electronic Forms page: http://www.siue.edu/graduate/forms.shtml.
Please Note: two weeks before your scheduled thesis
defense, you must place a copy of your completed thesis
in the English Department office, where it is available for review by
English faculty and students. One copy of the thesis (on standard quality
paper) is due in the Graduate Records office one week prior to the end
of finals week; this copy will be checked for format and you will be
notified of the need for any changes. For more on Graduate School formatting
requirements, see below.
Once a defense is successfully completed, the committee will sign the
"Summary of Completion Form" which the Director of Graduate
Studies will have previously filled out and given to your committee
chair. This form, which is critical in the bureaucratic processing of
degree completion, must be returned to the Director of Graduate Studies
for a signature and further processing. The "Thesis Approval Form"
should also be signed at this time.
It is fairly common for students to be instructed, at the defense, to
make further minor changes to the thesis. Once those emendations are
made, confirm their satisfactory completion with your committee or committee
chair before submitting the finished thesis (two copies: one on high-quality
"bond" paper and the other on standard quality paper) to the
Graduate School. Be sure to read carefully and follow scrupulously the
Guidelines for the Preparation of a Thesis when preparing and submitting
your thesis: http://www.siue.edu/graduatestudents/.
Once the final thesis is submitted to and accepted by the Graduate School,
the thesis part of your M. A. program is complete. Final granting of
the degree will follow the resolving of any issues noted on your graduation
check, including the completion of any outstanding requirements (such
as a DE grade from ENG 599).