When Kaitlyn Black moved from America to Mongolia, she had no idea that she would be getting a degree from a university in Lithuania. But LCC’s MA TESOL program was the perfect fit for Kaitlyn as she was looking for an affordable, international, practical degree that was globally recognized. Currently, she is working with international students in the Student Life department at Colorado Christian University. As a graduate, Kaitlyn reflects on her journey and the impact the MA TESOL program had on her life.
Where are you from and how did you find out about LCC and our MA TESOL program?
I'm from Wichita, Kansas, USA. But I lived in Mongolia for four years. I actually heard about LCC through Caleb Wolverton and another MA TESOL student. When I heard about LCC’s MA TESOL program, I thought it was a really good fit for my situation because I was living in Asia and I wanted to get a Master’s degree that was mostly online, but not completely online. And it was at a reasonable price, too.
Why were you working in Mongolia?
I got my B.A. in Bible and counseling at a small college in America, and after college I moved to Mongolia because I wanted to learn how to teach. I joined the English Language Institute of China (ELIC); they send North American teachers to Asia. Through their process of recruitment, I decided to go to Mongolia. After two years in Mongolia, I thought I should learn more about how to be a professional teacher. I had learned a lot from just doing it and have learned a lot from my organization. But I wanted to further my education in a more formal setting. I was in Mongolia for five years and I taught middle school and high school. When I started the classes at LCC, I began teaching at Mongolia International University which is pretty similar to LCC.
What attracted you to LCC’s MA TESOL program? What helped you make the decision to study at LCC?
Well, first I wanted an M.A. TESOL degree. The flexibility of being able to stay where I was instead of leaving Mongolia to start my masters was attractive. Because I was able to do the online component in Mongolia, I didn't need to leave Mongolia to start my masters. It worked out really well. The summer session worked really well for my schedule in Mongolia; I could come to Europe for a few weeks and then go back. Also, the program is affordable. I didn't need to find more money to pay for the program. The ease of access and affordability of it, as well as just the opportunity to study from North American professors in Europe was nice as well.
What was your experience with the program?
It fit what I expected while I was continuing my work. I was also able to apply a lot of the things that I was learning directly to my work because I was working at the same time. I enjoyed networking with classmates who were around the world doing similar things and professors who have had a lot of experience doing similar things. My experience has been really good. Overall, it's been what I expected.
How did your cohort manage to keep up their motivation during the online studies?
We had a Facebook group where we would communicate with each other, even if it was just for support. But that was one way that we stayed in touch while being all over the world. We had a small cohort so we were all able to interact with each other and our professors a lot.
One of the points of emphasis in LCC’s MA TESOL program is faith in teaching. How do you see this aspect and its role in the program?
There were some like explicit conversations about faith and teaching in the classroom. There was one book that we read about how languages can be a gift from God. A lot of the conversations that I had about faith in teaching were with my classmates and with my professors who shared similar beliefs. Since LCC is open to people from all backgrounds, I was also able to have a lot of good conversations with people who have different opinions than me, which I think is really good for professional development in general. In my daily life in Mongolia, I had conversations with students and colleagues about faith all the time in the classroom. I just have learned a lot about how to apply principles from my Christian worldview to my teaching. I don’t necessarily explicitly share the gospel or God's love, but is just sharing through actions and classroom principles.
What advice would you have for teachers who are looking for an MA TESOL degree?
I think that this program is a really good choice for people who are already overseas and teaching. The flexibility is really great and I think that flexibility can be hard to find in a program. If you want to stay where you are and continue to do what you are doing while studying, it's a really good fit.