Alumni join English-teaching class to share overseas skills

Annaliese Jaffe '18 is teaching English in Ecuador. Courtney Kobos '19 was recently evacuated from the Czech Republic where she was teaching English on a Fulbright grant.

Two recent Elon graduates met for a question-and-answer session with students interested in teaching English as a second language.

Annaliese Jaffe ’18 and Courtney Kobos ’19 spent the better part of an hour Thursday, April 16, with Assistant Professor of English Jennifer Eidum’s class, ENG 306: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Jaffe is teaching English in Quito, Ecuador. Kobos was recently evacuated from her Fulbright English Teaching Assistant assignment in the Czech Republic.

They shared tips on how to adjust to life overseas, apply to international teaching positions and build trust among students and colleagues in a new country. Most important is to make an effort to learn the language and customs, and to be sensitive to cultural differences in a host country, both said.

“Be prepared to feel lonely, scared and exhausted your first two months,” Jaffe said. “When you’re in a new country, and especially if you don’t know the language and cultural differences, it’s a constant mental battle.”

“Every day is an adventure,” Kobos said. “Even going to the grocery store is an experience.”

Any difficulties they felt early in their tenure eased quickly as they built relationships with their students at middle, high and vocational schools, they said.

Each encouraged undergraduates to investigate and apply early for international teaching positions and programs.

Eidum’s class submitted questions to Kobos and Jaffe before the session.

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages is a service-learning course designed to expose students to best practices and theories of teaching English to new learners. The course includes 20 hours of assisting English as a Second Language courses at Alamance Community College, but that aspect was suspended with pandemic response.

“That was a large part of the impetus for getting Annaliese and Courtney connected with the class,” Eidum said.

Eidum was proud to host Kobos and Jaffe, and grateful to them for sharing their accomplishments and experiences with undergraduates exploring English teaching.