TESOL Alumni Spotlight

Lynn Nakazawa (2016)

TEFL Trainer and Advisor, Fulbright Taiwan ETA program, Taipei, Taiwan

 
Q: Where do you work and what are your main job responsibilities/tasks?
A: I am currently working as a TEFL trainer and advisor for Fulbright Taiwan’s English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program. My main responsibilities include designing and leading pre-service and in-service teacher training workshops for the ETAs and their local Taiwanese English teacher counterparts, conducting classroom observations in all counties, and providing personal and professional support for 12 advisees through their bi-weekly reports.

Q: What drew you to the TESOL program at Penn GSE?
A: Before coming to Penn GSE, I worked at an English conversation school in Japan.  I realized my passion for teaching language and wanted to learn more about language learning theories and methodologies to further support my teaching practice.  When looking for TESOL graduate programs, I considered location, courses that were offered, and research interests of the faculty to try to find the right program for me.  The TESOL program at Penn GSE was the perfect fit!

Q: What was the most memorable part of your experience in the TESOL program?
A: I loved the supportive learning environment in the TESOL program.  In addition to the variety of courses offered and excellent faculty, I really appreciated the opportunities to meet other students in my program.  I learned a lot from their teaching experiences and perspectives through conversations we have had both inside and outside of classes!

Q: How your training in the TESOL program may have helped prepare you for your current job?
A: The coursework in the TESOL program has provided me with a clear foundation of the language-teaching field and has guided me when designing teacher-training workshops and when providing advice and lesson feedback for the ETAs.

In addition to coursework, I feel that my extracurricular activities have really prepared me for this position. I was actively involved with PEDAL@GSE in 2015-2016. PEDAL provided me with that foundation needed to support my advisees, anticipate areas where teachers might struggle, and develop my own leadership style.  PEDAL was truly a valuable learning experience for me and it was through my experience in this program that I realized I wanted to pursue my interest in TESOL teacher education.

* Interview conducted March 2016

Xuanchen Ye (2016)

Lecturer, Yunnan University, Kumming, China

 
Q: Where do you work and what are your main job responsibilities/tasks?
A: Currently I work as a lecturer in Yunnan University, China and teach, English Reading & Writing as well as English Speaking & Listening. My job responsibilities also include attending teacher training programs and academic conferences, where I have plenty of chances to keep track of what’s going on in the field and reflect on my own teaching time to time.

Q: What drew you to the TESOL program at Penn GSE?
A: I’ve always been attracted by English language and took it as my undergraduate major. However, despite its great influence in China, I could see (even as a student at that time) some potential problems of English teaching existed in Chinese schools. I chose Penn GSE eventually because of its high reputation for providing supportive academic environment.

Q: What was the most memorable part of your experience in the TESOL program?
A: The most unforgettable part would be all those enlightening discussions and valuable sharing we’ve had in class. Each student’s opinion, even from a novice teacher like me, would be carefully listened to and thoroughly discussed, let alone gaining instructive advice from our beloved professors.

Q: How your training in the TESOL program may have helped prepare you for your current job?
A: Both theoretical studying and field-based training have benefited me a lot. Besides coursework, I’ve taught children, adolescents, adult beginners and adult intermediates during the two years. My abilities of adapting teaching approaches based on different contexts have been greatly strengthened through these opportunities. What I’ve learned in TESOL shaped my teaching philosophy and will continuously exert influence on my future teaching.

* Interview conducted March 2016

QIANQIAN ZHANG-WU (2014)

Ph.D. candidate, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Boston, MA

 
Q: Why did you want to study TESOL?
A: Although I was never an English major, I had four years of language teaching experience before coming to Penn. I was interested in learning more about the second language acquisition theories along with cutting edge teaching methodologies. With its emphasis on both theory and practice, the TESOL program at Penn GSE therefore appeared to be the best fit for me.

Q: What was the most memorable part of the TESOL Program?
A: My favorite part of the TESOL experience was the supportive academic environment. Every new Penn TESOL student was assigned a peer advisor, a master's student who could offer guidance on a variety of academic issues. In my second year at Penn, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of working as a peer advisor. I was able to share my own experience as an international student studying TESOL with other international students.

Q: How do you incorporate what you learned in the TESOL Program in your work now?
A: I am currently a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. The Penn TESOL experience emphasizing both theory and practice has set a solid foundation for my doctoral studies and work. The unique English teaching experiences with immigrants and refugees, during my course in the TESOL program, aroused my interest in bilingual education and immigrant-related education issues, making me a competitive candidate for multiple adjunct lecturer positions at higher education institutes.

* Interview conducted October 2016