Bethany Fazekas

Bethany Fazekas graduated with honors from Anaheim University in 2012 with a Master of Arts degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.  

1. Why did you choose Anaheim University’s MA in TESOL program?

I chose Anaheim University's MA in TESOL program for the convenience of the online course setup, the outline of classes offered in the program, and because I was excited to learn directly from professors I had read about in my undergraduate program. I had studied their research and was anxious to have them teach me in the MA program! Their vast, global experiences were something I did not take for granted. 

2. Can you tell us about your career to date?

I have taught for 9 years in the public-school setting. I have taught ESL in Pennsylvania and English and Writing in Texas--grades ranging from 4-12! I am also beginning to tutor international students at the college level, which is very exciting. 

3. How has your Master’s Degree helped you to further your career?

Besides giving me a vast background in second language acquisition, I have been able to use a lot of the content I studied in the various courses at AU. For example, I served on a curriculum committee for 5 years. I was well prepared, because I had taken the curriculum design course--EDU 580 at AU. In general, my research at Anaheim has encouraged me to think outside the box in my classroom. Research in any area of education has a life-long impact because it affects our teaching practices, which in turn affects student learning. 

4. Can you share a favorite memory from Anaheim University?

That's easy! By far, the best memories from Anaheim were attending the residentials and meeting the professors and my classmates face to face...learning with them, engaging with them, exploring with them. I never would have guessed I would get on a plane by myself and travel to Seoul, South Korea, for a graduate program. I did it, and it was one of the most thrilling experiences in my life to date!

5. Did you have a favorite class at Anaheim University?

I enjoyed many of the classes, but I think my favorite was EDU 600 (my research portfolio) because it's where everything came together for me. I pulled together everything I learned into one qualitative research project on freewriting. I felt supported and led by Dr. David Nunan throughout the entire course. It was just a very gratifying class, and I was proud of my work in the end.

6. How did you enjoy the online experience?

If I had to describe the online experience in a word it would be: fun. There was always a fun element to each course. The online platform at AU is different than in other places. AU professors work hard to make sure the classes are extremely interactive. Honestly, it felt like I was sitting in a classroom with my classmates many times. It was just very interactive and engaging.

7. Who would Anaheim University’s MA in TESOL program best suit?

I would recommend this program to anyone who is currently teaching ESL. This program can help expand your knowledge on TESOL, and it gives you a lot of practical tips for being successful in the classroom.

8. What were the challenges in your program?

The biggest challenge was producing an entire 100-page paper/project with 2 other people. We lived in different parts of the world! We gathered data, designed, e-mailed, disagreed, edited, revised, etc. back and forth for months to complete this project. However, in the end, we had designed an entire curriculum-- long-distance! This was for EDU 580. The class challenged me in so many ways, and I definitely grew because of it. 

9. In your opinion, how does learning TESOL improve careers for ESL teachers?

I think if you currently have a classroom, it will allow you to step back and really reflect on your current teaching. I was able to ask myself if I was really meeting the needs of my students and if there were ways I could better myself as a teacher. I even used my classroom as a research study! I started keeping a teaching diary. It improved the way I design materials and deliver content.

10. Which residential sessions did you attend and what did you like best about them?

I attended the Seoul, South Korea, residential in October 2010, and also the Anaheim, California residential. I liked finally getting to meet the professors in person. It was a great opportunity to bring your questions and your comments in front of your professors and classmates and be able to process everything we had discussed online. The sessions were always engaging, and Anaheim did a great job at planning some surprise social elements into the sessions...gathering for a meal, watching fireworks at Disney, even celebrating Dr. Nunan's birthday with a big chocolate cake in a restaurant in South Korea! The residentials are the highlight of the program!

11. How did you feel connected to your learning community?

The discussion forums kept you connected all the time. You are networking with people all over the globe. The professors were very accessible, too. 

12. What advice can you give to new students entering the MA in TESOL program? 

First of all, congratulations on deciding to pursue your MA in TESOL. It is a great decision. I would say to start by keeping a notebook with your questions from the very beginning... questions about your courses, your research, your goals, your current classroom, your methods, etc. These questions will help guide and direct your eventual research project and/or thesis. Also, don't be afraid to change your ideas. Sometimes where you think you are going ends up being entirely different than where you actually go. When you carry out research, you have the power to shape it and mold it and make it show you something you never knew existed. Finally, make the program personal. Make it fit your current career needs and make it work for you and your students.