Written by Kathryn Ross
Dr. Tasha Bleistein’s experience in teaching ESL has shaped her as a person and educator. She has had a long career in education but has found that her love for teaching actually grew over time. The initial attraction came from “a sense of deep care for students and satisfaction in the classroom.” She notes that “Even if I started class in a grumpy mood, I would find a sense of joy in working with my ESL students.” As a professor in the M.A. TESOL program, Dr. Bleistein has found that there are few experiences more inspiring than teaching and training future educators to work in language classrooms.
“The language classroom can be a place of gaining cultural insights, increasing linguistic competence, and further developing positive personality traits that come through the struggle of acquiring a language community. Creating a learning environment that supports students in their language learning journey and seeing their excitement about gains and connections made makes language teaching immensely rewarding and fun.”
Dr. Bleistein’s time at APU has certainly been rewarding, she said that one of the things she loves most about working at Azusa Pacific is “seeing graduate students enhance their ability and understanding of how to teach English language learners.” She is also always proud to hear about how APU graduates are doing in their fields, whether they are excelling as teachers or furthering the legacy of supportive and excellent teaching.
Dr. Bleistein began her own career teaching Philosophy, Government, World History, Geography, Sociology, and Psychology to middle and high school students in Tegucigalpa, Honduras before moving to China to teach English as a Second Language for seven years. This experience only made her a better educator, evidenced by her being the recipient of the Ningxia Liupan Mountain Friendship Award, a prestigious Chinese Provincial Teaching Award, in 2008.
In her classroom, Dr. Bleistein wants students to understand that knowing the subject is just the beginning. “Make the most of learning about the fields that feed into TESOL and develop an area of specialization.” In other words, expand your horizons and get the most out of your education and your passion. Bleistein lives what she teaches having written two books since finishing her dissertation: Teaching Speaking (2013) and One-on-One Language Teaching and Learning: Theory and Practice (2015), with colleague M. Lewis.
Dr. Bleistein is currently working on gathering stories and videos from APU alumni for an Innovative Teaching Grant. “These videos, quotes, and other artifacts,” says Bleistein, “will enhance the existing curriculum in the M.A. TESOL programs and help current students to prepare to flourish in the field upon graduation.” With the help of this grant, Bleistein hopes to take the M.A. TESOL program even farther for students, faculty, and the students of future APU-bred educators.
Words of Wisdom: Engage deeply with other people and cultures in order to understand yourself and your culture better.