Humanities Professors Lead ESL Workshops for Educators with the Detroit Tigers
by Kristina Garvelink (M.S. '15)
Dr. Michael Pasquale, professor of linguistics, and Dr. Michael Stevens, professor of English, traveled to Lakeland, Fla., during spring training to teach professional development workshops for English as a Second Language (ESL) educators employed by the Detroit Tigers. This year's trip marks the third consecutive year that the Humanities Division professors have consulted with the historic baseball organization. Cornerstone University alumni Monica Pasquale (M.A. '08) and Joanna Bentley (M.A. '10) will be teaching minor league ballplayers this season and also attended the seminars.
"To be able to bring my experience and passion into helping the team I grew up supporting is an unexpected blessing," Pasquale said. "I always dreamt of playing professional baseball, but I didn't have the skillset. It is exciting that my expertise in English could make a small influence."
The Detroit Tigers organization includes ESL teachers at each of their minor league affiliate levels. The instructors provide support to international players in the minor leagues through personalized English language instruction.
The connection between Cornerstone and the Detroit Tigers began five years ago when Sharon Lockwood, coordinator of international player programs for the Detroit Tigers, attended the university's ESL Conference. She later contacted Pasquale with the opportunity to participate in the annual training workshop for ESL instructors held during spring training.
"This opportunity [to teach ESL to international baseball players] allows us to help international players with something they need to thrive and to feel more connected in their local communities," Pasquale said. "It gives us a chance to both provide encouragement through the season and challenge them to pursue being men of character."
While in Florida, Pasquale presented a preview of his forthcoming ESL curriculum program to workshop attendees. A pilot of the curriculum is planned for the upcoming season.
As the 2017-18 academic year concludes, Pasquale and Stevens look forward to combining their interests in language pedagogy and baseball closer to home. The team (along with Monica Pasquale) plans to lead ESL courses for the class A West Michigan Whitecaps this summer. CU alum Joanna Bentley will be teaching ESL courses for the class AAA Toledo Mud Hens.
Cornerstone University is a Christ-centered university with a passion for global influence through the transforming power of the gospel. As an interdenominational institution located in Grand Rapids, Mich., Cornerstone offers traditional undergraduate programs as well as adult undergraduate and graduate programs through the Professional & Graduate Studies division, Grand Rapids Theological Seminaryand Asia Biblical Theological Seminary.