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English Language Fellow and Specialists team-up for first-ever TESOL Conference in Turkmenistan

In January 2024, two English Language Specialists, Karin deJonge-Kannan and Heidi Faust, and one English Language Fellow, Anna Lurie, co-facilitated a five-day TESOL conference in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The Regional English Language Officer for Central Asia and two keynote speakers from TESOL International also joined the Specialists and Fellow – forming a team of experts on the theme “New Language Learning Technologies and Innovations in Education.” More than 250 English language teachers from all regions of Turkmenistan attended, representing professional contexts ranging from K-12 public schools to universities to private language centers.

DeJonge-Kannan and Faust each gave keynote presentations with numerous workshops while Lurie facilitated six workshops over the five days. Topics included STEM education, English language teaching methodologies, Continuous Professional Development through TESOL, contextualizing theory and practice, low-resource contexts, and much more.

Having the chance to visit Turkmenistan and spend a good amount of time teaching and learning alongside so many Turkmen teachers felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…Though the week was mostly work, it was really fun, too! From building paper towers and snowball fights with teachers in my sessions to making new friendships to seeing the streets of Ashgabat lit up at night, it was an experience I won’t forget. Professionally, I was pushed to develop my skills as a trainer through situations such as being asked to present on topics that are not usually in my wheelhouse, as well as leading interactive sessions with more than 80 people in a lecture-style room.” – Lurie

Teachers were welcoming and eager for the opportunity to connect — It’s hard to express in words the level of excitement and gratitude teachers expressed related to their interaction with us, each other and with new ideas…I was continuously stretched in my thinking about various activities and practices and loved learning from teachers about their classroom innovations.” – Faust

“Participating teachers were eager to learn new classroom techniques and activity ideas; they also appreciated learning the pedagogical research that backs up the benefits of interactive, student-centered lessons focused on English language use. The conference was a great opportunity to build relationships, share innovative teaching techniques, and strengthen teaching practices, as well as promote the various academic and professional exchange programs offered through the US Embassy.” – deJonge-Kannon

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