Several BYU-Idaho students are employed in an effort by the Church Educational System's Global Initiative Program to provide an English language learning product to members all over the world. In collaboration with several institutions including the MTC, BYU, BYU-Pathway Worldwide, and BYU-Hawaii, Seth Robins, BYU-Idaho campus curriculum developer, and his student employees are developing curriculum for EnglishConnect 3. The goal of this program is to provide students with the necessary English skills to enroll in PathwayConnect.
"We are developing English language learning content to help students who are not quite ready linguistically to get into Pathway," Robins said, "This will allow them to join Pathway and eventually matriculate to other CES institutions, or even an institution in their own country."
The BYU-Idaho student curriculum development team: Paige Roley, Madi Galer, Daniel da Silva, Hector Valles, Emmanuel Candiani, and Becca Maag, write and review the curriculum for the speaking and listening portions of EnglishConnect 3. This unique opportunity allows them to engage in work that is not normally accomplished by undergraduate students.
"They're doing real work," Robins said. "Work that people in the field do. They are taking the knowledge they have gained in their schooling and they are applying it to developing these lessons, so that students can learn English effectively. They are developing the actual content that our EnglishConnect 3 students will use."
The real-world experience that they have been able to obtain was deepened by the opportunity to present their work at the Intermountain Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Conference (I-TESOL), a conference that brings ESL professionals and students together for presentations and networking.
Presenting at I-TESOL was a collective effort among the BYU-Idaho team and others they have been working with. They presented with members of their team from different locations in Idaho and Utah. This was the first time they were able to meet face-to-face with many of the people they have collaborated with. As a result of the work they achieved, they were able to present practical information to the conference participants.
"We presented tools that have helped us develop our work," Robins said. "It was a practical presentation, not theoretical. We showed people how to use online resources to make sure the content they are developing is appropriate for the language proficiency level that they are targeting."
One of the benefits of presenting at a conference like I-TESOL is the opportunity to network with professionals in the TESOL field. Roley says that being able to network with professionals was a beneficial experience for her future.
"The networking part of the presentation was a really great experience," Roley said. "It was neat to see that there are other organizations that are just as good and that were also participating in the conference to improve their programs."
BYU-Idaho's student curriculum development team were the only undergraduate students presenting at the conference. "We were a little bit nervous to present because we were the only undergraduate students there," Valles said. "Most of the people already had degrees or they are working on their master's. As a student, I think that it is easy to feel unprepared for the real-world. I now feel more prepared because of the work we have done. It is work that many undergraduate students do not have the chance to do. I am sure that this will be very helpful in my job as a teacher and in my graduate studies."
According to Robins, his student employees have gained valuable experience in more ways than one.
"They get this valuable experience in Academia where they presented and it was nerve wracking," Robins said. "They also have the experience that puts them in a position to get real-world experience with their degree as they're going to school, rather than waiting until after their schooling. I think it really puts them in a position to be marketable after their schooling for jobs or for graduate school. There are a lot of master's students who don't have the experience that they have. They are actually developing content that students are going to use to improve their English and their lives."