Fulbright Experience

Click Fulbright Videos to meet some of my students!

In 2009, I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Taiwan by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (U.S. State Department), Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (Taiwan) and the Kaohsiung City Bureau of Education. 

From August 2009 to June 2010, I worked as an English Teaching Assistant at Fu Dong Elementary School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I was teamed up with two local teachers, Shirley and Andrea, and together we taught 300 third and fourth graders.

I worked closely with both teachers and let them guide me as I became acquainted with the traditional teaching style of Taiwan. However, I was encouraged to bring my own personality to the classroom and did that through culture, music, and arts & crafts lessons. Many of the students had never had a foreign English teacher before, and they seemed to enjoy a combination of Western and Eastern teaching styles. My personality allowed for more active student participation (asking the students questions and requiring that they ask questions), group work (to complete worksheets, create posterboards or come up to the front and perform), and competitions (such as spelling bees, tongue-twister races, drama and role play). I also enjoyed sharing the history of some of the more popular American holidays with the students, and celebrating it with them. Knowing that many children in the United States and around the world were celebrating the same holiday really stimulated their interest in English and in the activity at hand. 


I spent a lot of my time thinking of new ways to get the students excited to learn. I decided a fun way to teach English was through music, so we began rewarding them with a new song each time we finished a lesson in the book. The two most popular songs were "Hello, Goodbye" by the Beatles and "Baby" by Justin Bieber. Watching the music videos was especially exciting because it gave them a window into foreign culture and made them feel a real connection to the English language. 

I was also required to perform "Weekly English" on the main stage each week. During this activity, third to sixth graders (about 600 students) were all invited to come out to the courtyard to learn a new English sentence. First, we all practiced the sentence together, then students were split into groups and finally into pairs. My favorite part was walking off stage into the crowd of excited students and asking them to practice out loud using the microphone. After they practiced for a few minutes, I pulled out five small papers from a box (the paper included a grade and a student's number). The students that were picked then came up on stage to play out the dialogue with me and left with a small prize. 


One of the most rewarding parts of my grant was creating a remedial course for a group of eight fifth graders. Tina, Howard, Peter, Brian, Ella, Howard, Teddy and Jenny met with me at 8 a.m. every Wednesday before regular classes began. 

We began reviewing the alphabet and basic phonics, then moved on to simple  sentences and vocabulary words. I contacted an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Gainesville, Florida, and began a pen-pal exchange with her classroom of international students. 
We sent and received photos, letters and drawings every few weeks. Having new "friends" abroad, who were also learning English, encouraged my students very much. Before the end of the semester, students exchanged e-mail addresses and began teaching each other words in their own languages. 



During my Fulbright grant, I also looked for opportunities to volunteer in the community. The American Institute in Taiwan invited me to participate in an English Storytelling Program and a special program for Typhoon Morakot victims who had been relocated to Kaohsiung City. I also taught English lessons at a local senior center.