English as a Second Language
As the international language of business, diplomacy, and the academy, millions of individuals throughout the world study the English language for professional and personal reasons. And as an instructor, it has been my pleasure to foster the fluency of students from all walks of life through a systematic development of linguistic abilities and an appreciation for the idiosyncrasies of the English language.
English for Academic Purposes
Teaching English as a Second Language often is treated as a standalone subject, but when confronted with the academic and financial pressures that international students face on college campuses throughout the nation, traditional pedagogical techniques do not always work. As a result, the intensive language courses that I have taught at the University of Kentucky’s Center for English as a Second Language have combined a subject-specific orientation with projects that reflect the work being done by native students in the university's general population. These model assignments have included thesis-driven essays that define "community" through a culturally-specific lens, multimodal presentations that explain American idiosyncrasies to an international audience, and a grammar assignment that asked students to track verb tense through small talk.
English for Low-Literacy Refugees
While English for Academic Purposes focuses on the language learner’s ability to navigate the demands of the modern college curriculum, recent immigrants to America require a more practical and accelerated program. They need to be able to buy groceries, apply for jobs, and navigate the strange culture in which they find themselves. As opposed to more traditional language instruction, teaching these students English requires juggling the gradual development of linguistic ability with the more pressing demands of learning a whole new way of life.
At Operation Read, I worked to develop foundational English literacy skills in refugee students from Syria, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ukraine, and other troubled regions throughout the world. In my class, language learners filled out job applications, participated in mock parent-teacher conferences, and discussed their weekend plans with their Lexingtonian neighbors in an immersive and supportive learning environment. As a result, the adult learners in my course have become pillars of the local refugee community and active members of the Lexington community.
English Language Screening and Assessment
For over a decade, I have worked to prepare students to enter American colleges both in the classroom and through developing appropriate assessment tools. As a TOEFL-iBT expert, I designed and administered mock exams that were utilized to as the core of an assessment program for an elite academy in Bundang, South Korea. These tests drew on ETS rubrics and TOEFL models to mimic standard testing procedures and evaluate critical language skills that are necessary for excelling in native-English classrooms throughout the country.
While at the University of Kentucky, I have represented the Center for English as a Second Language during their biannual screening of International Teaching Assistants. These potential instructors and graduate students at UK are tested on their ability to explain disciplinary knowledge in a language that is foreign to them – to speak clearly and coherently as an educator. A member of a three-person panel, the CESL Representative is asked to evaluate the international student’s English competency from an objective perspective to balance the concerns of the undergraduate student body and the department for whom the student would teach. Each candidate is judged on their linguistic clarity, on the fluency of a prepared lecture, and on a cultural understanding of student-teacher interactions during informal and impromptu questioning. In other words, can the prospective ITA prepare effective lessons, understand written assignments, and respond to the concerns of English-speaking students. Over the last few years, I have weighed in on the linguistic competency of dozens of potential graduate instructors over the last 6 years.