Matthew Grills, MA ’16
Profession: Assistant professor and head teacher liaison, English department, Jungwon University
Location: Goesan, South Korea
The spiritual component that is integral to any program offered by APU makes a huge difference, especially with my TESOL training. It is a balanced approach that empowers us as students and eventual degree holders to understand the privilege to teach and complete joy that is part of working in the ESL field.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I am blessed and fortunate that I get to spend time with students and speak into their lives. This is something that happens not only in the classroom, but also organically outside of the four walls of the traditional teaching space. I cannot believe that I get to wake up each day and talk to students, teaching them not only as I have been taught—with new methodology and following a ministry of philosophy first developed at APU—but also taking the time to grow relationships and challenge them to excel in their pursuit of their dreams.
What have your professional travel experiences been like after receiving your TESOL master’s?
The sum total of my career in teaching English has been in Korea. I had limited practicum teaching in the United States prior to my overseas adventure starting in 2012, however I would recommend that any ESL teacher experience a different culture outside of the United States. Teaching and also learning as a visitor in a new country that is outside of our normal comfort zone helps us to be better teachers of English, especially when you learn about the culture you are teaching and work at learning the language. Teaching ESL is not a one-size fits all solution. You need to be cognizant of your students and their culture. This means understanding how they learn and speak their first language. It also means falling in love with the country and culture you are living with. I believe this has better prepared me to teach ESL should I return to the States.
How does your faith impact your approach to your career?
It is not about imposing English on our students, but rather helping them acquire a skill that they can use to live out their purpose and pursue their dreams. It is not a “better” language than their first language; it is merely a tool they can use to further the design God has for their lives. This can be taught in any context, regardless of whether or not God can be mentioned. I can use my own faith to guide me in helping students realize how unique they are and that English is just another facet of their journey and living out their purpose.
Note: This information is current for the 2023-24 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.