MA in TESOL at TAU is So Much More Than Just Another Teaching Certificate

Educating the next generation of English teachers

21 April 2024



Thinking of starting an English teaching career in Israel? Or looking to better your teaching skills, gain valuable insights into learners’ minds, and earn a higher degree to boost your career? TAU’s MA in TESOL, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is the perfect place for you.


This comprehensive program seamlessly blends theory with practical experience, equipping graduates with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in the Israeli educational system.


Unlike traditional MA programs, the MA in TESOL emphasizes hands-on learning from the very beginning. From the second semester onwards, students immerse themselves in educational settings, spending five hours per week teaching classes and observing experienced educators in action.


“The practicum component is what our students value the most”—Hanne Juel Solomon, Pedagogical Coordinator and Teacher Trainer on MA TESOL.


As  Hanne explains, teaching placements encompass a diverse range of environments, including elementary, junior high, and high schools, as well as adult education settings – at TAU and local colleges or at School House, a center catering to refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom come to Israel from Africa before moving to other countries.


Hanne Juel Solomon, Pedagogical Coordinator and Teacher Trainer on MA TESOL


“Typically, students teach in two different classes and also work with smaller groups at different levels. We try to tailor the program to suit the students – I send out a questionnaire before the program starts and then meet with students to understand where they see themselves teaching. We’ve even had some who wanted to go to kindergartens – that’s also possible since we have a lot of different connections,” explains Juel.


The program encourages students to teach more than the required five hours a week, and many of them do:


“People who choose our program want to be teachers. And you become a teacher by trying. Our students are very focused and they want to develop and grow as teachers. They are always eager to start the teaching component.”


This practical teaching experience allows students to apply theoretical concepts learned in the classroom directly to real-world teaching scenarios, fostering a deeper understanding of effective pedagogy. 


Even courses such as Linguistic Landscape, which could be very theoretical, take students to the classroom, encouraging them to consider how a certain task can work in their class to raise learners’ language awareness. And for Language Policy course, students analyze what is happening at a school they have chosen for their teaching placement or where they already work.


We Learn a Language to Use It


One of the defining features of the MA in TESOL program is its emphasis on the communicative approach to language teaching.


Group work in MA in TESOL


The program starts with courses aimed to introduce the students to the context of teaching in Israel. English curriculum at Israeli schools has recently undergone a major transformation, with the grammar-translation method giving way to a more modern, communicative approach in line with with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) guidelines which are built around language skills.


“You can definitely teach all levels only in English. Languages can be taught using all sorts of signs and you do not have to use the learner’s first language.”


At the same time, many Israeli school students are used to relying on translation, so making them feel comfortable with the communicative approach is another task the teacher needs to accomplish. Learning how to do that is also part of the MA in TESOL program. 


If You Teach Well, There Are No Issues with Classroom Management


One of the key pillars of effective teaching is classroom management, so several of the program courses incorporate this topic. During Critical Issues in Teaching course, which Juel teaches, students discuss situations and challenges that appear in their classrooms and think together how to best address and resolve them. 


In her other course, Bridging Theory to Practice, Juel presents not only ways of turning assignments into games and making classes more engaging, but also classroom management techniques. As a capstone project, students work on a case study, a teaching dilemma from their teaching experience, which may very well relate to classroom management issues.


An Immigrant’s Perspective


TESOL students also learn about the psychological aspects of being an immigrant and having to learn a new language. Many of them are recent immigrants themselves, bringing firsthand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities associated with language acquisition and cultural integration. 


MA in TESOL class


Having this perspective is invaluable because TESOL experience often involves teaching people who have moved to another country. For instance, refugees and asylum seekers barely know any English when they arrive in Israel, but they urgently need to learn it to be able to fill in and submit the necessary paperwork.


Integrating into Israeli Teaching System: Opportunities for New Olim


The second year of the program – for those in the Academic Integration Track for New Olim – is dedicated to working towards an Israeli teaching certificate and involves courses about the Israeli society, Jewish culture and traditions, as well as the study of Hebrew, which is essential for working in the the Israeli educational system. The courses of the second year are all taught in Hebrew.


“Hebrew is not crucial for the classroom, but it’s important for the environment, for being a part of the place where you work.”


The Academic Integration Track is fully funded for eligible students and allows for a softer integration in Israel. During the first year, students will study Hebrew in addition to taking graduate courses. 


Secret Ingredient to Teaching


Juel stresses the importance of getting to know the learners outside of the classroom encouraging students to spend time in school courtyards or go on school field trips:


“When you get to know the person you teach, you can connect to them on a personal level and then the person will be more open to studying.”


Juel speaks from experience as she has spent almost twenty years teaching second through eighth grade before moving to adult education and teacher training. 


“I love teaching, I love seeing the light in my students’ eyes when they get it. Working with people is wonderful.”


Bridging Cultures Through Teaching


Program graduates teach not only in Israel, but also abroad – in the USA and in Asia, taking the skills they learn to a different place. 


MA in TESOL graduates


“We often have students from China, so it’s very interesting to compare how English is taught there and in Israel,” adds Juel. 


Wherever graduates go to teach after completing their MA in TESOL, they will apply the key principles they have learned. They will be able to effectively adapt and vary their teaching methods to best suit their learners' needs and ensure that the content they teach is meaningful.




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