New certificate gives UMD students opportunity to travel

Illustration by Karli Kruse

Illustration by Karli Kruse

People look for different things in their jobs. It could be making a lot of money or finding a workplace that’s close to home, but for many it’s finding a career that allows them to see the world. With the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate, new to UMD as of this upcoming fall, students have the opportunity to find a career path that can take them across the world.

Alex Seydow, an instructor in the TEFL program, offered background on the new certificate.

“UMD is preparing people to work in a world that is multilingual and multicultural and it will become even more so in the future,” Seydow said. “The dean of CEHSP really saw a need for a program like this at UMD. A few years ago we started to conceptualize what that program should be.”

This isn’t the only opportunity for students to pursue work that encourages multicultural understanding. Also new to UMD is the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) & Multilingual Education minor, which can be useful to a broad variety of majors; whether it be education, business, international relations or otherwise.

“We decided to start with the minor because it’s important to a lot of different majors—you don’t have to be a teacher to work with English learners in some capacity,” Seydow said.

Seydow gave the example of those pursuing careers in communication sciences and disorders.

“There is a need in that field for people who are bilingual and know how to work with multilingual, multicultural students,” Seydow said.

The certificate is designed for students who are interested in teaching English abroad, and the minor is helpful for students who may work with English language learners in their careers in the United States.

The minor and certificate can also open up career options in the Peace Corps, volunteer organizations abroad, NGOs and more.

Greta Garcia, a Teaching Spanish major at UMD, thinks the program has the potential to make a difference in others’ lives.

“Here in Duluth, Minnesota, it can seem like this is a far away topic that doesn’t really affect us,” Garcia said. “But, I have experience working with ESL learners in Minnesota. I know how much of a difference it can make in a person’s life to have those necessary supports to succeed—something that is lacking in many of our schools.”

“I read sometimes in the literature that it’s difficult to work with people who speak another language than English,” Seydow said. “I don’t want graduates of this program to feel that it’s difficult. I want them to say that it’s normal that one in five people speaks another language than English at home. It’s joyful, it’s fun to meet people from other cultures.”

The minor is 21 credits and the certificate is 13 credits. To learn more about the courses in the programs, students can visit the TESOL & Multilingual Education Minor and TEFL Certificate webpage or email Seydow at