Student Spotlight: Joshua Bowman

What is your occupation? What are some of your responsibilities?
I am an adjunct instructor at American Culture and Language Institute on the Alexandria campus
of the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). I develop and implement lessons to
implement the assigned curriculum. But in a more informal sense, I am a coach, a cheerleader,
and a teammate to those who are trying to learn English.

Do you hold any certifications? How important do you think they are in
your field?
I earned a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate from NOVA.
The certificate is pretty much essential to qualify for jobs in this field. But more than that, the
skills I learned are indispensable to doing my job well.

The TESOL course gave me the theoretical knowledge of the process of learning and teaching a
second language. Moreover, it gave me practical means of putting this theory to use, the
experience of seeing it practiced and in practicing it myself. Lastly, it gave me access to skilled,
experienced professionals who have studied TESOL and worked in the field themselves.

What advice do you have for those interested in entering your field?
I have two simple pieces of advice. Practice, and learn from your mistakes.
It is the same advice I have for my students. You must learn the theory. But you can never really
learn it unless you use it. For my students, this means learning grammar. But then they have to
use it in their speaking and writing. For other teachers, it means listen and learn in class. But
then you have to teach. If you must, volunteer at first. But teaching anything helps you learn it
better.

As for the second part, accept that you will make mistakes and don’t let that hold you back. If you
aren’t making mistakes, then you aren’t trying. But give those mistakes value and learn from
them. Don’t just accept advice and constructive criticism. Seek it out. Seek it out from your
colleagues but mostly from your students. They will give you the best feedback and respect you
for your efforts to improve.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years? Ten?
I want to continue to improve myself and prepare myself for opportunities to further empower
others, but I am happy now, and I have learned that can be a rare thing to find. So, I am going to
savor what I have now.

 

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