Io Maeda | Journal review
Wabash College offers four language courses: Chinese, French, German and Spanish. This year, the college welcomed four foreign language teaching assistants from Argentina, France, Spain and Taiwan. There are no German TAs due to the pandemic.
The Fulbright FLTA program is the opportunity for young English teachers from foreign countries to teach their respective native languages at higher education institutions in the United States. The goal of this program is to improve their teaching abilities and English skills, while exposing themselves to American culture. and interact with people.
During the 10-month program at Wabash College, teaching assistants also take two courses each semester. This is one of the requirements to maintain their visa status. Therefore, they experience being a teacher and a student. They are also responsible for leading a weekly oral session of one hour, or a laboratory.
“They also provide a lot in terms of cultural education,” said Dr Jane Hardy, director of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Wabash College. “As the TAs are closer to the age of the students, they can help them with the culture of the young people in the countries where they come from. “
Hardy is not sure when the program started, however, she assumes it started in the early 1990s. There have been many changes in the department since the college accepted the first TA. Wabash ditched Russian, but added Chinese. Another TA for Spanish has been added due to its popularity. Therefore, it has become customary to have two TAs in Spanish in college.
Joaquin Sartori is a Spanish TA from Argentina. He is 30, the oldest among teaching assistants, and this was his last chance to enter the program due to the age limit. He learned about the program online while staying at home during the pandemic.
“I was like, ‘OK, maybe this is a good opportunity to travel abroad, to work and to live in another culture,” Sartori said.
Alba Gonzalez is another Spanish technical assistant from Spain. She is happy to study abroad in the United States thanks to the generous scholarship.
“I may sound crazy, but my life is kind of planned,” she said. “And so, Fulbright was one of my stops.”
Emeline Papinot is the French technical assistant in France. She learned about the program when she was a university student.
“I decided to give it a try because I want to experience new cultures and I thought it was a great opportunity,” Papinot said.
Anita Lee is the Chinese technical assistant in Taiwan. She applied for the program because one of the professors at her university highly recommended it.
“This is a very good opportunity, especially with the pandemic, and I am fortunate to travel all over the United States,” Lee said. “In Taiwan, we can’t go anywhere.
All teaching assistants started learning English as a non-mother tongue since they were young. They agree that English is not an easy language to master.
“Teaching assistants already have an excellent level of English, but the program still helps them learn slang and hear accents like our dialects,” said Rachel Barclay, FLTA program assistant at Wabash. Middle School.
Barclay helps TAs with visa applications and offers support to get them acclimated to their new life here.
Teaching assistants are enjoying their life in Crawfordsville. Sartori thinks the people are very nice and friendly.
“They welcome us all the time and I feel comfortable living here,” Sartori said.
Papinot said he felt like he was home from the day he arrived.
“It’s a small community and everyone is so nice. I feel like we already know so many people, ”Papinot said.
Gonzalez did not have high expectations as his last study abroad experience in Japan was not a good one. However, “I have lived in a total of nine different places because I change houses every year. And that [their house in the city] is the best house I have ever lived in, ”said Gonzalez.
Lee hopes that not only will people on campus learn various things from her, but she also wants to discover new things from them.
“I am actually very happy to meet other teaching assistants from Spain, France and Argentina and then many students,” said Lee.
Dr María Monsalve, assistant professor of Spanish at the college, was a teaching assistant for Spanish from 2010 to 2011. She was not an FLTA, but came to the college as an exchange student from his university in Ecuador. After earning a PhD in the United States, she returned to college as a faculty member in 2017.
She remembers when she was a teaching assistant.
“I hope they enjoy every minute… by the time you find yourself adjusted, you are about to leave,” Monsalve said.