Marcella Pattinson, Director of the WSU Center for Spoken English, came to Seattle in 2003 to study English. She had dreamed of living in the city since she was a child. While at WSU, she fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and wanted to make the most of her time here. She graduated with a B.A. in English and became a Teaching Assistant. In December 2006, she graduated with a M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Washington and began her job search, although she had started teaching at the University of Puget Sound during that time.

Marcella’s Journey

Marcella came from a large Italian-speaking family in London, England. She grew up in a city that had many English speaking people, but no one she knew spoke Italian. After her first phone call with an Italian accent, she knew she had made a lasting impression. It wasn’t until years later that she found out that the man she had talked to on the phone was none other than Enrico Fermi, physicist and Nobel laureate. She had been learning from the best!

When she graduated from college, Marcella moved to Italy to become a teacher. Before she could settle into a routine of teaching, she was offered a research job at an Italian university. At the time, she didn’t speak a word of Italian, but she took the job anyway. She spent the next year in Italy immersing herself in the language and culture. During this time, she took a few ESL classes at the local university. It was there that she found her passion for teaching English as a second language. She decided that rather than returning to Italy, she would stay in Seattle and begin her career at WSU.

What Will You Find at WSU?

Marcella has had the opportunity to study English at a prestigious university in England and at the University of Washington, where she completed a master’s degree in applied linguistics. At both of these universities, she had studied under some of the greatest minds in the field. She put her learning to use immediately upon graduation, landing her first job as an ESL teacher at the University of Puget Sound.

If you are looking for a quiet and peaceful place to study, WSU is certainly an excellent choice. The university has a very residential atmosphere and is very child-friendly. There is plenty to do for students who aren’t satisfied with just the academic side of their studies.

As for academics, WSU is classified as a doctoral level institution. That means that it grants doctoral degrees. Some of the subjects that you will study at WSU include English for Academic Purposes, TESL (teaching English to Speakers of English) and Educational Studies. With a few notable exceptions, courses here aren’t exceptionally hard or difficult. If you’re worried about your grades, don’t be. The ESL department here is one of the best in the country and you will be taught by some of the brightest minds in the field. They will expect you to do your best work, so you should too, especially since there are so many different opportunities here for your postgraduate studies. You may decide to specialise in educational studies and earn a Doctor of Education degree. With a decent teaching record and some solid recommendations, you might even be able to apply for tenure—a first for an ESL teacher! Who knows—you might even end up teaching at a university or college one day.

Is Marcella’s Career Planning Accurate?

Yes, mostly. When you are looking for a new job, it’s important to do your research and find out what is available. Some of the positions that she looked into that are now open and available include:

  • Language lecturer at the University of Birmingham
  • ESL/EFL tutor at the University of Nottingham
  • ESL/EFL teacher at the University of Birmingham
  • ESL/EFL tutor at the University of Warwick
  • TESL teacher at the University of Glasgow
  • ESL/EFL tutor at the University of Exeter

However, what she found out about the jobs that she was qualified for wasn’t what interested her. The positions that she was qualified for, required a masters degree in TESL. At the time, she didn’t have a masters degree and the prospect of spending four years getting one and then finding out that there wasn’t any work here with her qualifications was more than a little disillusioning.

She decided to stay in Seattle and apply for a postgraduate teaching fellowship with the Washington State University Center for Spoken English. The WSU CSE is a centre that provides academic support to graduate students as they study to become professional English teachers. It was through her association with the WSU CSE that Marcella was eventually able to secure a job at the University of Washington.

In addition to the support that she receives from the WSU CSE, Marcella is also a part-time lecturer at the University of Washington. She teaches a module on educational policy and practices as they relate to the teaching of English as a Second Language. She also mentors Postgraduate Study Programme (P2P) students. P2P is a special postgraduate master’s programme that offers a taught master’s degree in TESL. P2P students are taught by some of the best faculty in the country and given the opportunity to study in some of the most recognisable academic centres across the UK.

The main reason that Marcella came to study at WSU was because of the opportunity to pursue her dream of living in Seattle. While at WSU, she has developed her skills and acquired a wealth of knowledge that will serve her well in her future career. She has enjoyed her studies here and looks forward to continuing her education with more postgraduate papers and hopefully, a book or two on the subject matter that she has covered in her academic work.