ALI Instructor Profile – Jenna Hanson

 Jenna Hanson

ALI Instructor Jenna Hanson

From early childhood, instructor Jenna Hanson of SDSU’s American Language Institute has had the travel bug.

She visited England by age 13 and has visited 40 states and 30 foreign countries, including twice studying abroad in Madrid, Spain.

Growing up in the small mountainous town of Tehachapi in central California, Jenna was always interested in seeing different places and keeping active. In high school, she played soccer and softball, worked for the Associated Student Body (ASB), and was president of the Spanish Club at Tehachapi High.

“I was an all-around, everything kind of person,” she said. “That’s easy to do in a small town. There are not a lot of people to go around and do those types of things.”

Before Jenna’s senior year at Tehachapi High, she fell in love with San Diego while visiting a friend who was attending SDSU. She was accepted to SDSU, the only school she applied for, and studied as a Spanish major.

Studying Spanish inspired her study abroad excursions to Spain.

“I was only 19 years old the first time I went,” she said. “It was amazing. The trip pretty much instilled the travel bug in me.”

After graduating from SDSU, Jenna took the TESL/TEFL program through ALI so that she could teach English abroad. Her first assignment was a six-month stint in Ecuador.

“I never wanted to come home,” she said. “I was on a travel visa so I needed to come back.”

After returning to the U.S., Jenna earned a double master’s degree in Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL) at Colorado State University.

Her next job was at a language school for seven months in Minnesota, where the winters are very cold. Wanting to get out of the cold weather, she came back to California.

Jenna then worked as an event planner for Comic-Con International, known by Forbes magazine as “the largest convention of its kind in the world.” From there, she taught basic ESL at Grossmont Community College.

At ALI, Jenna teaches speaking, listening, TOEFL waiver, and a social entrepreneurship class.

“I love the students,” she said. “I love being creative and innovative with lessons. We have the freedom to express different methodologies.”

One of her biggest thrills is when ALI students successfully matriculate to SDSU as full-time university students.

“It melts my heart when they succeed at SDSU then come back to speak with our TOEFL waiver class,” she said.

Next on the horizon for Jenna is the annual summer trip with her best friend to Michigan and Canada. In previous years, they have visited Pennsylvania, New York, Niagara Falls, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Canada.

She’s always on the move, but is happy to have settled down at the ALI in her career path.