NMU Grad Receives Fulbright Opportunity

 

Recent NMU graduate Monique Yoder will teach English and American culture to students in Austria from October through May. The opportunity comes courtesy of the Austrian-American Educational Commission, which works in conjunction with the Fulbright Commission and the Austrian Ministry of Education.

As a foreign language assistant at two business vocational schools, Yoder will facilitate 12 conversation lessons per week for students ages 16-19, team-teach with their English instructor, andintroduce students tovarious aspects of American culture. She will be based in Neusiedl am See, in the eastern part of the country near the borders of Slovakia and Hungary.

 

Yoder graduated from NMU in May with an English/graduate-bound degree and a minor in German. This will be her second trip to Austria.

 

I went to Vienna with Carol Strauss (Modern Languages and Literatures), Robbie Goodrich (History) and a group of students last year as part of a study-abroad program, and I really liked it there, she said. Its similar to the Midwest with its rolling fields, but in Austria you have the Alps in the background.

 

Yoders heritage inspired her to choose German as her foreign language in high school and as one of her minors in college. Selecting a major did not come so easily.

 

I started out as a biochemistry major because I liked science, but I switched to English my junior year because I like writing more. Im glad I made that decision; its given me a chance to explore the humanities more. I have a better understanding of myself and the world around me.

 

The Austrian students that Yoder will be teaching have already taken two or three years of the English language, but she hopes to bring more to the classroom than language skills.

 

I think its important that the students over there have a positive image of the U.S., she said. I hope to create an open environment so theyll be comfortable with asking questions about life over here; I want them to know how diverse it really is. I also plan on introducing them to some good music.

 

But Yoder also understands that even though shes the teacher, she will be doing some learning as well. This will be my first time living someplace on my own, so that will be a learning experience in itself. Im also curious as to how they deal with the same issues that we do, and I want to brush up on my German skills. But most importantly, this experience will prepare me for grad school at Michigan State next year, where Ill be studying how to teach English to foreign speakers. Once I finish that program, Ill be able to teach anywhere in the world.

 

Yoders long-term goals are to teach abroad for a few years after graduate school, then return to the states for her doctorate in linguistics. She is one of 121 teaching assistants hired by the Austrian-American Educational Commission this year to promote communication between the two countries.   

 

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Updated: October 26, 2005

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