| by Jason Warburg

News Stories

Newsletter TESOL
Faculty members Aysha Farid, Kari Naumova MATFL ’24, Vanessa Hoffman MATESOL ’16, Oliver Block, Renee Jourdenais, and Lisa Russell-Pinson dressed up for the certificate ceremony at the end of the seven-week intensive English program in Bangladesh.

There is tremendous power in women supporting, mentoring, and championing each other.

That power was unlocked this summer as Middlebury faculty, alumni, and students joined together to put on an intensive English program for 60 Bangladeshi and Afghan women working on STEM degrees at the Asian University for Women (AUW). The goal was to help them to advance in their university studies.

“Our two institutions share the belief that by inspiring our students, they will go on to inspire others,” said Alicia Brent MATESOL ’03, senior director of executive and custom programs. “Our hope is to provide these talented women with the skills and confidence to make a difference not only in their communities but also in the world.”

The genesis of the program was when a Middlebury Language Schools alumna from Afghanistan attended AUW and recognized that Middlebury’s immersive language model could work well for the students that need to improve their English to enter undergraduate study there.

“This is such a special opportunity for our students to benefit from face-to-face education with American experts in the field of language teaching,” said AUW Program Director Matthew Glotfelter.

Newsletter TESOL 2
Students in the Middlebury-AUW Summer English Program worked collaboratively on projects, including this word cloud using vocabulary from the course.

Brent and Professor Renée Jourdenais cocreated the program, with Jourdenais acting as program coordinator and mentoring the instructors, most of whom were TESOL alumni.

Language instructors for the program included Institute TESOL alumni Oliver Block ’21, Vanessa Hoffman ’16, and Jeanne Bufalino ’20. Current student Kari Naumova ’24 (Teaching Foreign Language) both taught and served as activities coordinator for the program. The lead instructor was Dr. Lisa Russell-Pinson of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a graduate school classmate of Professor Jourdenais.

“I was drawn to teach in the AUW-Middlebury program because I strongly believe in AUW’s mission. AUW provides superb educational opportunities to a diverse group of talented women, and it’s exciting to know how much their experiences at AUW will transform their lives,” said Russell-Pinson, who recently worked with Afghani students in a program at UNC Charlotte.

The intensive program focused on building students’ academic reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills through content-focused instruction, preparing them for entry into AUW’s rigorous undergraduate program. They also participated in extracurricular activities led by Naumova and current AUW student Aysha Farid.

“We are excited about the support and keen interest of the Middlebury team in this project,” added Jourdenais. “We have delivered similar programs in the U.S., and the curriculum could definitely be replicated elsewhere.” 

The team is currently exploring opportunities to expand the program.

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