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Featured Fellow Michael Horvilleur Helps to Build a Sustainable Future in Guadalajara, Mexico

“The best part of my fellowship is that it gave me the opportunity to infuse topics I am most passionate about into my workshops, thus allowing me to grow professionally in subjects that I would not have otherwise been able to learn.”

Leading workshops on EdTech tools, Special Needs, and Environmental Awareness – while enjoying his favorite food at “taqueros” – keeps English Language Fellow Michael Horvilleur (2019-2020, 2022-2023) busy in Guadalajara, Mexico. Horvilleur’s primary role involves training English teachers at the University of Guadalajara, but he also trains pre-service English teachers at The Esquina Franklin, which is an American Space located in the Juan Jose Arreola public library across the street from the University of Guadalajara. These student teachers are completing their university practicum and will soon be teachers in their own communities. As many teachers in the region have little training in communicative and project-based teaching, Horvilleur believes that his project has allowed for teachers to practice more dynamic teaching techniques and learn about the many free resources available.

Workshops of Special Interest

Horvilleur always seeks to include pre-service teachers in the planning of workshops at the local American Space. They often choose and plan lessons together. This allows Horvilleur to focus on local needs, but also allows the teachers to practice planning and co-presenting lessons. One of these workshops was entitled “Teaching English to Speakers with Special Needs,” a topic they chose because too often teachers understand the need to improve accessibility yet have no training on the topic. This has personal significance for Horvilleur as he was diagnosed with ADHD at an early age. He shared, “I think this gave me a unique perspective, which allowed us to create an amazing workshop.” The pre-service teachers who co-planned and presented with Horvilleur will continue to deliver the workshop at their own campuses around the region. 

Horvilleur also has a passion for educational technology and has personally been learning how to code and develop EdTech tools for teachers. Through collaboration with pre-service teachers, Horvilleur has not only designed various tech tools but also engaged in joint coding practices. This creative development process has expanded many of the teachers’ views regarding the use of technology in the classroom. Horvilleur shares, “The best part of my fellowship is that it gave me the opportunity to infuse topics I am most passionate about into my workshops, thus allowing me to grow professionally in subjects that I would not have otherwise been able to learn.” He has had the chance to take his passion for EdTech beyond his classroom and share that knowledge with other teachers through workshops. 

Fellows Collaborate for a Sustainable Future

Horvilleur notes his participation in mid-year fellowship events have been some of his favorite experiences as a Fellow. At these events, Fellows come together from their respective regions to engage in several days of cultural exchange and workshops. “Not only do we get the chance to travel to other countries, but it is a chance to meet with other Fellows, share experiences … and take part in Fellow-led workshops that give us ideas about how we can better serve the population we work with.” Recently, Horvilleur and four other Fellows from his region met in Costa Rica along with local educators. The workshops were focused on environmental awareness in the classroom. Seated within an institute deep in the Costa Rican jungle, Fellows were surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature in the world. They collaborated on ideas for making students more environmentally aware and creating communities where students take ownership of their environment. “Taking in all this information while in such a beautiful landscape really opened my eyes and made me realize how much teachers and Fellows can do to help create a more sustainable future,” reflected Horvilleur. 

Building upon his time in Costa Rica, Horvilleur co-organized conversation clubs at the American Space with pre-service teachers on environmental awareness. They delivered lessons in which students read and discussed proposed projects to improve their city. The activities naturally led to a discussion about priorities and environmental protection. “Horvilleur has helped the U.S. Mission to Mexico reach key audiences, including important teacher multipliers poised to begin their ELT careers, with critical content such as building a strong awareness of climate change in the classroom,” said Regional English Language Officer, David Fay.

Cultural Exchange

Horvilleur’s daily schedule varies from going to university campuses, to leading workshops at the American Space, and occasionally traveling outside the city to deliver a training – yet he always tries to start his day with his wife on a walk around the Bosque Colomos. The beautiful forest is near his home and filled with local flora and fauna. Horvilleur believes that Mexican food is a strong contender for best in the world and excitedly takes his lunches at one of the many “taqueros,” street vendors making delicious tacos, quesadillas, and sandwiches. With Guadalajara having some of the best and most famous restaurants worldwide, Horvilleur says “nothing compares to eating tacos on a small stool on the side of the road with my coworkers and friends after a long day’s work.”

Sharing about American holidays and customs is a popular topic for Fellows, but Horvilleur tries to take cultural exchange outside of formal presentations and workshops and focuses on relationships. He organized a game club which gives students the chance to use English in a relaxed and informal way. Horvilleur recalls a time in which he and a student discussed idioms and Horvilleur’s hometown while playing a game. They have fun and share stories while building cultural exchange and practicing English. 

As his fellowship is soon wrapping up, Horvilleur plans to move into the educational technology sector. “I am confident that my time as a Fellow has provided a wealth of relevant experience in the field.”

Michael Horvilleur is an experienced English as a Second Language teacher with a demonstrated history working with adult students. He has taught in Spain, China, the United States, and Mexico. He is currently an English Language Fellow in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he focuses on training English teachers how to create a more communicative and collaborative classroom environment. He is a dedicated education professional with a master’s degree in TESOL from Fordham University.

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