JACKSON, Tenn. – March 22, 2001 – Union University is in the process of beginning a student exchange program with Morocco to enhance TESL students’ learning experience. “I am actually describing a student-centered exchange in the form of a short-term language school,” said Philip Ryan, coordinator of the ESL Program and assistant professor of languages at Union.
The idea for this “short-term language school” came from an immersion experience to Qujda, Morocco. Ryan and Renita Hendrick, a junior TESL major, spent the month of January submerged in Moroccan culture and education.
Hendrick spent her two and a half weeks teaching English at Mohamed 1 University. “It’s such a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to practice in an authentic foreign environment,” said Hendrick.
Hendrick says that her main goal was to better enhance her teaching abilities, and to form relationships with her students. “I loved having the opportunity to share my background as an African American and a single mother,” said Hendrick.
“I knew that if I opened myself up to them that they would be more apt to learn and allow me to know them,” she said. “I think it would be awesome for a Moroccan student to have that same opportunity to share his/her life with us.”
While Hendrick experimented with TESL hands-on, Ryan conducted a workshop on teacher-exploration for university faculty and for secondary English teachers. He promoted the idea of student-exchange between Union and Mohamed 1.
“This opens doors for Union students to study in Morocco in a variety of contexts,” said Ryan. “In particular, opportunities abound for majors in the TESL program and students interested in ESL/EFL to participate in intensive language programs with students from Mohamed 1, and likewise, for these Moroccan students to teach our students conversational Moroccan French or Arabic, and to practice their English.”
The program is still in the early stages of development, and for now, the exchange program will work with Mohammed 1 only. However, as need increases, and more students are willing and able to go, Hendrick and Ryan believe that the program will expand.
Sara B. Horn,