Kimberley Gamez was an English Language Fellow in Nkumba, Uganda, 2019-2020. At her host institution, Nkumba University, Gamez taught undergraduate courses on communication skills, American literature, writing skills, and materials development in the School of Education. She also created learning and teaching materials on active reading strategies for early childhood education and on analyzing and writing essays, and designed a grammar curriculum for language development courses. Gamez’s secondary duties included conducting teacher training through the university and with the Uganda National English Language Teachers Association (UNELTA) and delivering presentations at the American Center in Kampala with EducationUSA.
Many of the pre-service and in-service teachers who attended Gamez’s workshops frequently asked for strategies to manage large classes with low resources. With a focus on immediate local needs, these strategies to address common challenges quickly became the concentration of many of Gamez’s lessons and presentations. In all aspects of her fellowship, Gamez designed her instruction to be “practical, authentic, and meaningful.”
While Gamez has always been creative, her fellowship challenged her to create lessons with minimal resources. “Our classes were often held outside or in rooms without electricity or technology. Public schools often had classes with 80 to 200 students at once,” she explained. To address these challenges, Gamez shared strategies for forming smaller learning groups, using poster paper as “whiteboards,” creating poster paper from rice sacks, and using bottle caps and dice for grammar and vocabulary activities.
Once, Gamez had to teach about emailing and computer skills, but didn’t have tech for the room and the students only had paper and pens. So, Gamez drew computer screens on poster paper to teach about emailing.
“I have always been interested in both curriculum design and teacher training. This fellowship allowed me to gain experience, and realize how much I enjoy them both, ” Gamez shared. Currently, Gamez is creating teaching resources through her website (theeslgirl.com) and teaching summer art lessons. She stated, “This fellowship has helped me keep students at the center of instruction and better understand the necessity of practical approaches and materials. After my fellowship, I am more confident, both professionally and personally.”
Kimberley Gamez has over 10 years of combined ESL/EFL teaching experience. She holds an MA TESOL and a BA in Intercultural Studies from Biola University. Her degrees were the combination of her passion and interest in international development and education. She has taught in South Korea, China, Uganda, and Southern California. In South Korea and Southern California, Gamez taught K-12 students, where her interest and creativity for materials development started. At UC Irvine, she taught advanced writing, reading, and grammar courses in their international programs. She is interested in teacher-learner relationships and inclusive classrooms, low-resource classrooms, curriculum development, and teacher training. In her personal time, she creates free English language resources for teachers, available at theeslgirl.com.