Department of English Students Spend Summer Teaching Across the Globe

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kent State University’s faculty and students in the department of English dedicated their summer to teach English classes virtually all over the world.

The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate program provides the opportunity for the department of English’s practicum students to teach English to non-native English speakers globally through hands-on activities in international contexts.

TEFL is one of the fastest growing global education fields. According to the British Council, an organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, 1.5 billion people are learning English across the world, making TEFL one of the fastest growing global education fields.

Kent State’s TEFL program offers engaging, comprehensive training for students to become qualified in teaching English. As a result, these students take advantage of the opportunities to help English learners and impact non-native speakers in a way that creates new opportunities.

One of the teaching opportunities the students took part in was a program called English Language Learning Activities (ELLA) that was created with the help of Molly Papay, Senior Education Abroad Advisor in the Office of Global Education.

“The practicum students taught different groups of students from our international partner universities every day for four weeks,” Mindy Uhrig, associate lecturer in the department of English said. ‘It was great because the students they were teaching were from all over. You'd have Japanese, Russian, Indian and Chinese people all in the same class. That was huge and I can't believe we did that.”

With the practicum students teaching online because of COVID, they had the ability to teach in more than just one country.

“I saw a lot of benefits of doing the program online,” Ryan Miller, Ph.D., associate professor in the Teaching English as Second Language (TESL) program said. “Our student teachers could teach in a lot of different places all over the world. They taught students in Germany, Ecuador, Bosnia, as well as in India, Russia and Japan. By having it online, it opens up those kinds of opportunities.”

Facilitated by Miller and Uhrig, the 2021 TEFL program took place over six weeks and practicum students taught via Zoom Monday through Friday. The students created unique lesson plans and executed them entirely on their own.

“It was very fulfilling to have a lesson you planned entirely and taught,” senior practicum student Jared Brown said. “After one of my first lessons, Dr. Gommlich, one of the German teachers helping in the practicum, told me I was ‘inspirational,’ which was really motivating.”

Brown and his classmates taught students they had never met before and had to find creative ways to interact with them through an online platform.

“​It was a nice feeling to know that you were helping students and they were actually understanding you,” senior practicum student Madelyn Lombardi said. “I got to help middle school students in Germany and college students in Ecuador. That was amazing. Even if it was only online, I was still able to feel like I was connecting with them.”

Both Miller and Uhrig noted they were proud of the practicum students’ ability to adapt and improve in such a short period of time.

“It was interesting to see how, at first, the student teachers were timid and didn't really want to put themselves out there as much,” Miller said. “But then after a couple of weeks, they had confidence and they had built a really good rapport with their students. It was just a night and day difference.”

The TEFL certificate program transformed these students into young teachers, leaving them with experience, confidence and a new perspective on teaching English as a foreign language.

Lombardi recommends the program saying that, “It’s very fun. It’s a great opportunity to meet a lot of people and make meaningful connections through it.”

To learn more about the TEFL program and its benefits, visit

POSTED: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - 11:23am
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - 2:47pm
Pilar Lewis