English as a Second Language

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Catriona Gay

 Catriona Gay


Education and Professional Qualifications:

  • B.A. (Hons.) Urban and Regional Planning, Oxford Polytechnic, England
  • RTPI (Member Royal Town Planning Institute)
  • AICP (Member American Institute of Certified Planners)
  • TESOL Certificate, University of California, Santa Barbara.


I am a Manx-American – I was born and raised on the Isle of Man and like many islanders I have wanderlust and love to travel.

After college I took a chance and came to California. I had visited before and loved the rich mix of cultures and lifestyles. My first career was as a City Planner and Environmental Analyst. The positions I held varied from working for the City of Los Angeles drafting design guidelines for Venice, to working as Planning Director and all-round gofer in the one-person planning department of the City of La Habra Heights.

We moved to Santa Barbara in 1990 and I started working as a Senior Planner for UCSB. I became interested in a new career in education when I worked as a parent volunteer at Starr-King Parent Child Workshop, and then at Open Alternative School. I started working as an Instructional Aide at the Wake Center and was completely hooked – I loved working in a classroom with adults learning ESL. I have always struggled with learning foreign languages – I understand French and Spanish, but have never achieved fluency in either language. I get such a kick out of watching someone progress from knowing just a few words of English to being able to communicate. It’s the best job satisfaction in the world to see someone “get it” and know they’ll be able to leave the classroom and put their new skills to work.

I completed the TESOL Certificate Program in 2009 and then started teaching at an intensive English language school while also working as a substitute instructor for SBCC Continuing Education ESL. While I enjoy working with students who are visiting from around the world, I get even more satisfaction from teaching in the Continuing Education ESL program. I love the feeling that I am helping students succeed in building a life in a new country. In the future I hope to combine my environmental and planning experience and my ESL skills and to work for the Peace Corps or a similar program.

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