Kent State’s Teaching English as a Foreign Language Program Offers Students a Diverse Experience
Kent State University’s Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program is celebrating its 14th year. Though relatively new, the Kent State TEFL program has been able to offer its students a diverse experience through an intimate network of partnerships in Dresden, Germany.
The program is facilitated in collaboration with Technische Universität (TU) Dresden and is led by Klaus Gommlich, TEFL program director and founder. Gommlich, who started the program in 2003, now lives in Germany and has been growing a network for students to take advantage of while studying abroad.
Participating students actively observe, assist, plan and teach while taking Kent State faculty-taught classes at Technische Universität Dresden and living on campus alongside local college students.
“Besides the four core classes, the 6-credit-hour practicum immerses the students in two modes related to education,” says Jo-Leigh Lyons, Kent State’s TEFL program coordinator. “Those two modes are observation of local K-12 and university teaching settings, and the planning, teaching and assessing component. The practicum is really the crown of this program and sets us apart as a serious professional training facility for teachers. Students work hard but also enjoy regularly planned excursions.”
Alissa Thomas, senior integrated language arts major, says going through the Dresden program reaffirmed her choice to teach. Thomas enjoyed her TEFL experience immensely. She plans to return to TU Dresden next fall for her master’s in British literature, culture and linguistics.
“I think the good thing about the program that is undervalued is that you have the opportunity to teach a huge variety of ages,” Thomas says. “It was amazing because I realized how much I loved working with college kids.”
The TEFL program enables students to teach general K-12 to higher education as well as nontraditional students in community classes for adults. Kent State also has partnerships for students to be able to teach English for specific-purpose classes. Previous positions include English for nurses, lawyers, executives and tourism management and hospitality.
Lyons admits that though it is an intense schedule, the practicum has proved to be effective in teacher training. In the past four years, a dozen students have gone on to intern at a local kindergarten in Dresden straight from the program through a partnership with Kent State. Program graduates also can be found teaching around the world in China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Turkey and many other countries.
Stephen Ovak graduated with a bachelor’s in English education from Ohio State in spring 2015 and took part in Kent State’s TEFL program during summer 2015. Ovak was one of three to be accepted for the kindergarten internship in 2015.
“The kindergarten internship was a very special immersion into German culture that put me into unique situations,” Ovak says. “My job title at the kindergarten was ‘muttersprachler’ or native-speaker. I was regarded as an ambassador of English language and English-speaking culture, and was responsible for interacting with kids ages 3 to 6 years old throughout the day with this in mind.”
The TEFL program is open to all majors, and the certificate can be attached to any undergraduate or post-undergraduate degree. Students may choose to participate during spring semester or during summer for a one-month or semester-length program.
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