English as a Second Language Instructor
Spring International Language Center, University of Arkansas
Education and Qualifications:
M.A., German Literature, University of Arkansas
B.A. German, International Relations, European Studies, University of Arkansas
Study abroad in Graz, Austria
Fulbright Commission English Language Assistant in Salzburg, Austria
Describe a typical day on your job.
First of all, while I’m not directly using German at my job currently, my experiences of learning a foreign language and integrating myself into a foreign culture have given me the skills necessary to teach English to international students. Because I know from first-hand experience the joys and frustrations of learning a foreign language, I understand better how languages work and what learners struggle with, and I can empathize with English learners’ difficulties! I teach a very diverse class of students from seven different countries, many of whom are striving to become fluent in English in order to study at an American university, others of whom are studying English for their career in their home countries or other reasons. A typical day for me includes lesson planning, grading papers or tests, and teaching interactive lessons that help students improve their reading and vocabulary skills. At Spring International, we also do fun activities with the students to teach them about American culture- such as holiday parties, sporting events, bowling, ice skating, trips to retirement homes for the students to chat with senior citizens, and of course, plenty of meals!
How do you use German?
In fact, I frequently used German at my previous job; I taught English and German at a language center founded by a Christian organization that helped people in southern Thailand gain job skills after the tsunami devastated that area. I taught courses in hospitality English and German and had a blast doing it. Interestingly, I was also able to co-teach a Thai class to German tourists since I had picked up a considerable amount of Thai after my first five months there and could explain things to the students in German. In my current job, however, my knowledge of how languages work, rather than German specifically, helps me pinpoint what areas students struggle with as they learn English.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?
There are so many advantages to my job! I get to meet fascinating people from so many different places and backgrounds, so I learn a lot about the world without even leaving northwest Arkansas. One of the most enjoyable aspects about this kind of teaching is that my students are especially motivated and eager to learn English because they can see how it is immediately applicable to their lives. I enjoy the cultural events they invite me to, and it is fun to teach them about my culture. It is amazing to see how students make giant leaps in their language ability in such a short amount of time. The only real disadvantage I can see about my job right now is that I’m working only part-time until I can go back to school to get my master’s in TESOL.
Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?
If you are learning a foreign language and might be interested in teaching (either English or a foreign language),look into programs to get certified as a teacher early on in your studies, because having to go back to school can be a little frustrating when you are ready to work in your field. If you want to be a language teacher, you need to have patience, a genuine love for people, good communication skills, and a sense of humor.