Medina Torlak

For Medina Torlak, enrolling in Humber’s Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) graduate certificate program was a decision close to her heart. Her parents immigrated to Canada as refugees, and she knew that working with newcomers and immigrants was her passion.  

“After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, I knew I wanted to do more,” said Torlak. “In the TESL program, I felt like I was giving back to the community that welcomed my parents when they first immigrated.”  

Students in TESL are required to complete a 50-hour graduated teaching practicum, which helps them develop a full understanding of best practices in teaching English as a second language (ESL). The practicum is fully arranged and supervised, giving student-teachers time to focus on their learning.  

“I completed my hours at three different schools,” said Torlak. “My first two classrooms were online, and my last placement was my first in-person experience.”  

Torlak completed her last placement at Heartland International English School (Heartland), which offers premiere private English Language educational experiences. With two locations in Canada, Heartland has welcomed thousands of students from over 60 countries.  

“Medina’s passion shines through when she’s teaching,” said Beata Wisniewski, ESL instructor at Heartland International English School and Torlak’s mentor. “She is energetic and great with the students.” 

“I’ve welcomed many Humber students and they’re always fantastic and enthusiastic. I look forward to working with more students in the future.”  

A highlight of Torlak’s experience at Heartland was getting to know students from around the world.  

“I was teaching students from Columbia, Ecuador, Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia,” she said. “I've learned so many new things from them.”  

One of the challenges Torlak faced at Heartland was teaching a hybrid class. She needed to be mindful of the students online, so she created strategies that kept both groups engaged throughout the class.  

“My first lesson was so nerve-wracking,” said Torlak. “I spent so much time on the lesson plan, and then when I started teaching, I noticed some students were confused.”   

“I quickly realized that I needed to think on my feet and tailor the lessons to meet the diverse needs of my students. Sometimes I change how I’m framing questions or adapt the lesson plan to make sure everyone is understanding and following along.”  

Torlak felt she was prepared to face these challenges because of her education in the TESL program. 

“I loved all my courses,” she said. “I remember one day we had to watch a video of a student and analyze the grammar issues they were struggling with. Then, we had to create activities that would help them – that was great preparation for what teaching is like in the real world.” 

Torlak said the TESL program’s work-integrated learning experiences helped her find her career path.  

“I didn’t have any clarity about my career before I enrolled in TESL,” she said. “This experience helped me find the direction I want my life to go in.”  

Learn more about Humber’s Teaching English as a Second Language graduate certificate program.