Alumna Rachel Faerber-Ovaska Tells About Her Time in the SLI Program
Long ago and far away in Finland, I did a Master’s degree in German and trained as a German teacher. Years later, when I moved to a small town in the U.S., jobs for German teachers were scarce. So I studied for a new Bachelor’s degree in French at a local state university, after which they hired me as a French instructor. In my first year, I became aware of many complex foreign language (FL) pedagogy challenges in my teaching context and knew I needed more up-to-date, in-depth knowledge to tackle those issues. SOU’s SLI program was ideal, because I didn’t have to give up my teaching job, and it offered a real immersion in French culture.
Looking back on my 3 summers in Angers, I can say that the faculty were amazing. They offered a valuable variety of intellectual perspectives and teaching styles. I updated my understanding of FL pedagogy, improved my French, learned a lot about technology for FL teaching & learning, and got to know fun, diverse fellow French teachers from across the U.S. In my job teaching undergraduates, having a Master’s degree specifically in “Teaching French” proved to be a useful qualification. It turned me into a pedagogy resource for my department — when colleagues want help with technology or new teaching ideas, they often ask me. In the meantime, I started in an EdD program for Language, Literacy, & Culture Education, and found that the SOU SLI coursework had given me a real head start. Actually, my present dissertation research has its roots in projects I did for Heather Willis-Allen’s and Sebastien Dubreil’s courses. In sum, I’m very glad to be an SLI French alumna.