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April 29, 2004 - Meet the English Teachers - 2004-04-29

Broadcast on COAST TO COAST: April 29, 2004

AA: I'm Avi Arditti, and this week on Wordmaster -- meet some of the teachers I met at the annual convention of TESOL. That's short for the group, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.


The convention was in Long Beach, California -- complete with Mexican mariachi music -- and I was there to promote Special English, the VOA service for English learners. But I was sharing a booth with the Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange Program. It's one of the various Fulbright programs that send Americans abroad and bring people to spend time in the United States. So it was a good spot to meet a mix of Fulbright and non-Fulbright alumni. People like ...

VVEDENSKA: "My name is Tetyana VVedenska. I'm from Ukraine, the city of Dnipropetrovsk, and I'm affiliated with Dnipropetrovsk National University where I work as an associate professor at the Department of Educational Psychology and English."

AA: "And if you had any tips for people who are starting out as English teachers, or have already been teaching for a number of years -- if you had any advice, what would that be?"

VVDENSKA: "Advice? [laughs] Stay there, in spite of the fact that sometimes it will seem like hell to you. Because, you know, for me it means a lot, because my Fulbright experience changed my personal and professional life completely. It was in nineteen-ninety-eight, and I came here for a half-a-year research program, when I was affiliated with SUNY [State University of New York] university in Albany, New York. And I've got so many amazing friends and colleagues, so that heightened my self-esteem. They charged me with energy for the rest of my life, I think!"

BALLARD: "I'm Beverly Ballard and last year I taught in Bulgaria through the Fulbright program. I was in a small town on the Danube River and I taught every week two-hundred-twenty-five students. Well I'd never been in Eastern Europe before, so there were a lot of things that were a shock to me. One of the things is that they can boycott classes. And so if you give a test, sometimes they don't show up. This was a surprising thing. And, of course, that can't happen very much, at least not in California. If they boycott a class, there are certain repercussions for that."

PARK: "I'm Shin-young Park. I go to NYU."

AA: "So New York University. And where are you from?"

PARK: "I'm from Korea. I'm going to graduate this summer, in July. I want to work in E.S.L. school here in U.S. just for one year, as an internship."

AA: "You're here studying English as a second language, but you've also had to learn American idioms and culture along with it, for yourself, to survive. What's been the hardest part of that?"

PARK: "Um ... like every E.F.L. student or E.S.L. student, as a second language learner, there are so many things, especially when you watch a sitcom -- "

AA: "A situation comedy on television."

PARK: "I know the meanings, but sometimes I don't get it why that expression is so funny. So, you know, everybody's laughing, but ... "

GARLOW: "My name is Todd Garlow, I'm a high school E.S.L. teacher in Maryland. I worked in Turkey from [nineteen-] ninety-nine to two-thousand in a private Turkish school, teaching seventh and eighth grade students. I was there the year of the two big earthquakes. I actually left here the day the first big earthquake happened.

"As the day went on even, I flew through New York in the airport, hearing that the death toll was rising and the extent of the devastation was increasing. And then in the days following, when I first arrived there, looking back on it now, it reminds me very much of the days following 9/11. People were in complete shock, disbelief, just glued to their TV, wanting information, wanting to know what was going on."

AA: "And while your students learned English from you, what did you learn about Turkey?"

GARLOW: "In many ways, Turkey is regarded as the model Muslim country. People are Muslim but they have a secular government. They're in a unique position in terms of fostering democracy but still struggling with it. But they're also very proud of their own history and accomplishments, and there are many modern aspects."

AA: "Do you keep in touch with any of your students?"

GARLOW: "I do keep in touch with some of my students via e-mail about what's going on, which is a very nice connection."

AA: Todd Garlow and some of the other teachers at this year's TESOL convention, held this month in California. And that's Wordmaster for this week. Our e-mail address is and our Web site is I'm Avi Arditti.