Saturday, September 09, 2006

TESOL Testimonial

Here is my testimonial, which I wrote up for the organization Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, on how I came to teach ESL/EFL and who or what influenced me.

I was studying social science and history at Bethel College in Kansas (USA) in the early 1980s when I finally determined to take a year office to study, travel and work abroad between my junior and senior year.

The first leg of that journey took me in 1983 to study international development in Nicaragua and Honduras. Later in that same year and during the first half of 1984, I worked on farms in France and Germany—whereby I learned my first foreign languages by total immersion and self-study.

It was in Nicaragua that the leader, Dr.Gustavo Parajon, of the Council of Protestant Churches (CEPAD), the largest ecumenical organization in that country, suggested at a meeting with several college students and myself that one thing we could try to do to have a positive impact in developing countries would be to teach English.

I arrogantly thought to myself, “That sounds too easy and a bit too imperialistic to me.” Nevertheless, I quietly put the idea of teaching English on-the-back-burner of my mind for a few years.

In 1986, after I finished my student teaching as a History and Social Studies teacher in Kansas City, Kansas and had found myself unemployed that I began volunteering with migratory worker children in a local institution for immigrants called El Centro. Nonetheless, it wasn’t till I returned to Germany at the end of that same year as a graduate student that I was first invited to specifically teach English and to receive money for doing so.

For the next four years, I learned to teach English by practicing the art, going to seminars, talking with others, and employing learning methods and teaching methods that I was using to become an advanced speaker of German. By 1990 I was fully inspired to leave Germany and to return to the USA to finally get an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the University of Kansas.

Subsequently, after teaching in Japan for two years, I returned to Nicaragua to work as the USIA’s English Teaching Fellow in Nicaragua for 1995-1996. I felt so pleased and blessed to be able to promote English, work for TESOL affiliates in the region, and help both the poor and wealthy improve their lives. Along with many presentations and courses I gave at binational centers, universities, and in regional educational workshops and intensive programs for high school and elementary school instructors around the country of Nicaragua and in Costa Rica, I was very active in ANPI (Nicaraguan Association of English Teachers) and was invited to be on the program committee for NICA-TESOL in July 1996.

Before I left Nicaragua in August 1996, I took about one-thousand dollars (about 8 percent of my annual local earnings) and donated the money to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Nicaragua to be used by rural and poorer schools that they worked. I required that this money only be used in the next year to help pay teachers salaries—as many poor and rural school instructors in Nicaragua at that time often did not earn enough money to live on and care for there families. Hence, many Nicaraguan teachers, even as they became older and more skilled, were feeling forced to leave their jobs and go elsewhere for employment.

Finally, a year later, I received a letter from the coordinator of several school programs in Nicaragua who had used my moneys. The Nicaraguan coordinator outlined how my contribution had been employed. He indicated that In all, some 26 teachers had either had their salaries partially increased or fully paid-for in that 12-month period through my giving of moneys—earned in Nicaragua as a USIA English Teaching Fellow.

In summation, In Nicaragua the seed of the idea of teaching English was first planted in 1983 by the head of an ecumenical organization (named CEPAD) devoted to helping people. More than a decade later, in 1995-1997, this same seed bore great fruit through the inspiration of people like those in CEPAD, through my efforts and through sharing my contributions. I am proud of all these things.



Blogger Saad Amir said...

The sense to speak in English.The men have a ability to learn the English.
regards, saad from

6:59 AM  

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