Transnational English Language Teaching: Opportunities for Teacher Learning and Development


As a teacher educator, I have long been interested in looking for ways in which to provide educational opportunities for students, particularly for those who are unable to receive education due to a variety of social and contextual factors. As a faculty member of a University dedicated to the values of equity and social justice, I looked for ways in which to embed these important principles into our TESOL teacher education program. In the fall of 2012, I had the opportunity to meet the founder of Kito International, a nonprofit organization in Nairobi, Kenya. At the time, our School of Leadership and Education Sciences had named this organization our “Partner of the Year”. The mission of this organization is to get homeless youth off the streets and provide them with professional development opportunities and skills to successfully transition into society as a means out of poverty. In my conversations with the founder of Kito, we considered how our TESOL program could continue to be of service to them. In collaboration with the founder, his staff at Kito International, and our graduate students, we developed an online business English program to support their entrepreneurial goals. During the spring of 2013, we piloted this project with four of Kito’s staff members. In the fall of 2013, I paired the Kito staff members with our TESOL graduate students into collaborative teaching teams. This project was a two-year initiative with the intention of training the staff members, working with them on training their youth, and then handing over the curriculum to them to use with their subsequent cohorts using the “train-the-trainer” approach to empower the local trainers to then take on the leadership around this work. Because we were developing the program as we were simultaneously trying to understand the needs of the learners enrolled in the program, I instituted dialogical learning spaces (Molina 2015), which were weekly teaching-team sessions lasting from one to three hours, where we brainstormed lesson plan ideas, pre-screened and uploaded lessons, reviewed student submissions, provided feedback, while having conversations around our assumptions about language learning and teaching, particularly within this transnational context. After a presentation of the literature that informed our understanding of the complexities of teaching in this transnational context, this paper will focus on the learning that teachers derived through their participation in this project. Lastly, implications for TESOL teacher education in this global context will be considered

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