UCSD Extension Instructor Profile: Crystal Carothers

What course(s) do you teach in the UCSD Extension Copyediting Certificate program?

I teach Grammar Lab and Copyediting I. 

How long have you been teaching there?

I've been teaching for UCSD Extension since fall of 2020. Since then I've been teaching the Grammar Lab, which is the introductory course. 

Crystal Carothers

How did you get involved in the program?

I was previously teaching ESL for international students at UCSD Extension and had been doing that since 2010. However, once the pandemic hit, most of our international students went back home. A lot of my courses were subsequently canceled. That's when I pivoted and started teaching writing courses for UCSD Extension. 

What is your goal for your students in your course(s)?

I want my students to gain awareness and a deeper understanding of syntax in a way that enables them to be more confident writers, whether they are going into a copyediting career or just want to have more confidence when crafting work-related emails or writing a novel. 

What kind of feedback have you received and successes have you seen from your students?

Many of my students refer to the Grammar Lab course as “Grammar bootcamp,” meaning they gripe and complain and vent at the vast amount of information they're expected to learn. They came into copyediting thinking it would be a breeze since they majored in English 20 years ago and then find themselves very humbled, nearly drowning in a sea of terms, concepts, and rules they’d never heard of. But by the end of the course, they have this appreciation for being able to take all the skills they’ve learned and apply them to what they write. We all write every day, so learning how to edit our own writing, whether we go into the field of copyediting or not, is an extremely valuable skill. Students tell me they appreciate knowing, for example, the intricacies of using commas, when to use an em dash or an en dash, or the appropriate use of a semicolon. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching in the program?

I enjoy being able to use my knowledge and skills to help students understand intricacies of grammar in the English language.  

What advice do you give students in your course who want to build a copyediting career or business?

I don't have a lot of industry experience, which is why I don't teach in the higher level copyediting courses. I come in as a person who understands the syntax due to my role as an academic ESL instructor for over 15 years. However, I would highly recommend students obtain the UCSD Extension Copyediting Certificate and start there. Within the program, students receive a lot of advice on this as well as opportunities to network.  

What else would you like to share with potential students about the value of the program?

The program is very well designed, and students tell me they definitely get a lot out of it. 

I forgot to mention that I just started teaching Copyediting I this quarter, which began a few weeks ago. I also don't have a lot of “student successes” because I teach the Intro course, and I imagine that instructors who teach Copyediting II and III would probably have more knowledge of students who found jobs or opportunities as a result of the program. 

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