November 6, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Career Corner | Linguistics in Action: English Language Internship at East Elementary

Vanessa Torrington working with students at East Elementary, shown here at white board.

Vanessa Torrington working with students at East Elementary

Linguistics students at Ohio University are poised to have a significant impact on the Athens educational community during spring semester.

In a recently redesigned partnership between the Linguistics Department and Athens City Schools, both undergraduate and graduate students—who have some teaching experience or a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate—now have the opportunity to intern at area public schools.

The new agreement allows OHIO students to earn credit hours toward their degree at the same time they gain real teaching experience. East Elementary is a popular site for  interns since it is close to campus. In addition, the need is highest here due to the influx of Saudi educators participating in the Khbrat Program (“42 Saudi Educators Spending Year at OHIO in School Leadership Immersion Program“) who have children enrolled there.  However, for those who would prefer working with older English learners, the middle- and high-schools are also open to welcome interns.

OHIO student Vanessa Torrington, originally from Guyana, is working toward a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics in 2020. She is completing her internship now during fall semester. She says her experience teaching at East Elementary has been “amazing!

“I love the children. Most of them really, really want to learn,” she continues. “They get so excited [about what we’re doing in the classroom] and it motivates me to come every day.” Her favorite part of working with the children is making a personal connection with them. She loves it when they call her “Miss Vanessa” and are so glad to see her each day she is there.

She gains “a real sense of satisfaction when a student can say the days of the week or the alphabet” due to her teaching. She also noted how supportive and welcoming the faculty and staff at East have been to her and other interns.

Vanessa Torrington, shown in classroom with bulletin board of months of the year.

Vanessa Torrington, student in M.A. in Applied Linguistics

Torrington went on to discuss the idea that her internship has taught her to pay more attention to different varieties of the English language, and to be sensitive to different backgrounds and cultures.

“When first I came to the U.S.,” she says, “people were always asking me to repeat myself since I don’t have an American accent.” At the time, she found it somewhat annoying and even frustrating, but now she feels that her English learner students “can relate to me since I also have a different way of speaking. I think it helps them engage with me and other learners since we have that in common.”  She reflected that her experiences and newly gained skills will definitely be of benefit in her future career.

Athens City Schools EL Specialist and Program Coordinator Joshua Rowland hopes that more OHIO students will choose to complete the internship program. He noted that several former interns have moved on to teach overseas and internationally; their futures were changed because they could claim teaching experience with the K-12 population. He also says the children at East benefit immensely from their time with OHIO interns, since it allows them to participate in small group work targeted at their proficiency level—something that is much more difficult to achieve in mainstream classrooms.

He outlined three key factors that contribute to success as an intern: flexibility in accommodating scheduling and other changes, an eagerness to try new things, and truly caring about the students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *