Two Mount Union Graduates Set Out to Teach Abroad
July 24, 2009
Two recent Mount Union graduates are putting their skills and senses of adventure to use by taking advantage of the opportunity to teach halfway around the world this year.
Neither Ashley Gauer nor Amanda Kusler knew she wanted to teach abroad until after studying abroad for a semester through Mount Union. Now, each of them have teaching jobs in a different country — Gauer in Japan and Kusler in France.
Gauer’s job title in Japan is an assistant language teacher. The job, which is associated with the JET Program through the Japanese Consulate, was suggested to her by Dr. Hamako Furuhata-Turner, professor of foreign languages.
Gauer assists the Japanese teachers of English, helping with lesson plans and allowing students the opportunity to listen to a native English speaker.
As of right now, Gauer is not assigned to a specific school. Instead, she works for the local board of education, which places her where she is needed.
Gauer explained two main differences between schools in Japan and schools in the United States.
“First of all, high school is not mandatory in Japan. Students must pass an entrance exam to enter and spend most of their time in high school studying for their college entrance exam,” Gauer said. “Secondly, students and teachers do not wear their shoes inside the school building; everyone wears slippers once they arrive.”
It wasn’t until after Gauer studied abroad in Japan that she realized she wanted to stay longer. Although her degree is not in education, but in international business, Gauer feels prepared to accept this challenge.
“The sense of independence that I found was something I wasn’t used to, but surprisingly I liked it a lot,” Gauer said. “Since I had loved my study abroad experience so much, I wanted to go back and saw this as the perfect opportunity to sharpen my skills.”
Kusler will begin her job as a language assistant in France on October 1. She will be teaching English to 8-11 year olds.
The job was first mentioned to her by two American girls currently in the program, who she met while studying in Pau, France her sophomore year.
Teaching abroad was not part of Kusler’s plan until after a trip to France with Dr. Frank Triplett, professor of foreign languages and director of international programs, and other Mount Union students last summer.
“I had planned on getting a teaching position in the United States right out of college, but I decided I wanted another opportunity to stay in France for an extended period of time.”
The main difference between schools in France and the U.S. is that teachers are considered government officials in France. Also, there are two different types of schools, similar to college prep and vocational, but a student’s performance in middle school determines which one she or she will attend.
Despite these differences, Kusler feels that she has the ability to take on this opportunity because of the preparation she received at Mount Union.
“My classes at Mount prepared me by teaching me the French language, as well as the general pedagogical knowledge which will prepare me for teaching any subject,” said Kusler. “My methods course also taught me a variety of useful strategies for teaching a foreign language.”
Although Gauer and Kusler have completed their undergraduate educations, they are sure to have many more learning experiences ahead of them.