Who says German is not a romantic language? When MIIS students Shannon Tumanut (MATFL ’04) and Darren (Joe) Cunningham (MATFL ’04) were teamed up for a final group project in Peter Shaw’s curriculum design course, they named their Franco-Teutonic group “Romancing the Germans.” Their course’s self-described “professor of pedagogical magic” is apparently also a wizard at matchmaking, because for Shannon and Joe, the group project was the beginning of a lasting love story. At MIIS we call that a perfect MIIS Match!
Shannon, who had been teaching in Paris before coming to Monterey, was drawn to MIIS for its Master of Arts in Teaching Foreign Language (MATFL) degree, which could be combined with the Language Program Administration (LPA) program. Joe had been teaching English in Prague, and came to MIIS to further develop his pedagogical skills and advance his knowledge of German.
After graduation, Joe went back to Germany as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, splitting his time between a Gymnasium (a secondary school for 5th to 13th-graders) and a Berufsoberschule (an upper level vocational school), which gave him the opportunity to have contact with different groups of both students and teachers. Along with one of his colleagues in the Berufsoberschule, he started offering Internet-based English language presentations to local schools—an exciting project that would eventually turn into his dissertation research.
In true MIIS Match tradition, Shannon went across the world to Shanghai, China, where she joined up with fellow MIIS alumni (and current professor) Laura Burian (MATI ’95) and Teresa Pargeter (MATESOL ’97) to teach an eight-week intensive English program for the People’s Liberation Army, before returning to France to teach English at the primary level.
Following their year in Europe, the couple married in Prague, two years to the day from when they were engaged, also in Prague. After honeymooning in Croatia, they settled in Shannon’s hometown of Kansas City. As has been observed for centuries, the process of learning and teaching is mutual rather than one-directional, and for Joe and Shannon that has meant a career of teaching and continued learning.
Days before he defended his dissertation in April, Joe and Shannon welcomed their second daughter Madeleine. Annabelle was born in 2011. Joe has already begun a tenure-track position as assistant professor of German at Georgetown University. His doctoral thesis examines the development of requesting behavior in American learners of German for professional purposes as they engaged in a series of synchronous web conferences with German speaking professionals in Germany.
Shannon and the girls will stay in Kansas City this academic year while she completes her dissertation. She is currently collecting data in relation to her research on teacher identity and their interactions with non-native English speakers in the community college writing classroom.
By next summer you can expect to catch up with the whole family in Washington, D.C., where we have no doubt they will quickly be embraced by the vibrant MIIS alumni community!