Taiwanese teachers partner with Woodring’s TESOL program to develop English teaching skills

Jacqueline Allison
for Western Today

Fifteen Taiwanese elementary and middle-school English teachers spent several weeks at Western this summer to advance their English teaching skills in a partnership  with Woodring College of Education’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program.

In addition to the  intensive summer course at Western, the partnership also includes the “Cloud Project,” three quarters of virtual lessons between the Taiwanese teachers and Woodring faculty and Western TESOL students --who will then travel to Taiwan later this year.

Chiou-lan Chern, an English professor at National Taiwan Normal University, won a grant from the Taiwan Ministry of Education to fund the partnership.

From July 5 to August 8, the teachers participated in a five-week teaching development course at Western, learning and practicing new methodologies to implement in their Taiwanese classrooms, such as how to teach to all levels of learners and create interactive, engaging lessons.

Instructors from TESOL, ELL and Special Education programs led workshops that covered TESOL methodology, remedial instruction, differentiated instruction, theme-based instruction and project-based instruction, to support the current teacher development priorities set by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education.

The Taiwanese teachers attended TESOL classes side-by-side with TESOL students, pairing up to provide English lessons to Spanish teenagers in Western’s four-week Language Adventures Summer Program.

“The partnership provides the Taiwanese teachers with the knowledge and skills to improve the educational experience of their students,” said TESOL Program Director Trish Skillman, who developed the partnership. “The interaction between Taiwanese teachers and TESOL students also improves cross-cultural and linguistic skills for both groups.”

“The Cloud Project,” which began spring quarter, involves a series of virtual meetings between Taiwanese teachers, their students, Woodring faculty and TESOL students. During fall quarter, TESOL students will teach English lessons over Skype to Taiwanese elementary and middle-school children, and then travel to Taiwan in December with Woodring teachers to visit the actual classrooms.  

“The Cloud Project offers a great opportunity for the middle-school students in Taiwan to interact with native speakers and to train their oral proficiency,” said Taiwanese English teacher Jenny Tseng.

The teachers also visited Bellingham High School, Sehome High School and Wade King Elementary to meet their American counterparts and observe lessons. TESOL students introduced the Taiwanese teachers to Bellingham culture, including kayaking on Lake Whatcom and exploring the Bellingham Farmers Market.

Western’s interdisciplinary TESOL certificate program is designed to prepare students with the skills and experience to teach English to speakers of all languages. To find out more, please visit wwu.edu/tesol.

Monday, August 24, 2015 - 11:01am