Wendy Coulson is currently working in Namangan as an ESN Coach to strengthen teacher-training practices and build local language teachers’ English skills and teaching competencies. We asked Wendy a few questions about her background, motivation for teaching, and interests in Uzbekistan. Wendy shared her insights, ideas, and opinions with us, highlighting her thinking and teaching philosophy.
“By teaching young learners and their teachers, I connected with my love for playing with language, which is what I try to highlight in my training sessions and presentations.” - Wendy Coulson
Prior to coming to Uzbekistan, what educational teaching/teacher training experience(s) did you have abroad or in the United States?
I have been in the field for about 27 years, almost all of them abroad. For the last 16 years my base has been in Central Mexico where I first started teaching young learners and found my ‘teaching voice’ with them. I was pulled out of the classroom to share my knowledge and techniques in various schools, and so my career as a trainer began. I am lucky to have worked on several international teaching projects through American Councils, the U.S. Department of State and British Councils all over the world, mentoring and training trainers.
What motivated you to work in education, either as a teacher or a teacher trainer?
Connecting with two of my passions: traveling and learning languages. I was really lost after I graduated with a BA in French Language and Culture because it seemed as if my only option was teaching French. Then my father sent me an article about teaching English abroad, and I found out there was an excellent TESOL program at my university. By teaching young learners and their teachers, I also connected with my love for playing with language which is what I try to highlight in my training sessions and presentations.
What do you think is the most important factor or skill for teachers to work toward in their professional development?
I would say that connecting with their love of language, native or other, and connecting to their talents, passion and interests. For example, I love to sing, and I love children’s literature. I am also an artisan felter, so I bring in my creations in the form of puppets and relia for storytelling, games and role plays. I bring these talents and interests not only to my English classes, but also to other aspects of my profession which makes it more satisfying.
What advice or recommendation would you make to young teachers who are just starting their career?
Find a mentor. Find someone who you trust and whose work you admire and who has time for you. You are just starting out on your journey and it's difficult to put everything together and to find your voice, to hit your stride. Find someone who has found the ‘art’ of it, observe them and ask lots of questions.
What curriculum, book, course, or resource would you recommend to English teachers in Uzbekistan to refine or strengthen their pedagogy?
It’s difficult to add something new here because I would just repeat what I have said above. There are many, many excellent resources out there. Perhaps the best resource is to know yourself as a language learner and bring joy into the process. I would recommend reading up on teacher self-reflection; the American English website has tons of resources like webinars and English Teaching Forum articles to help you out. And, find a mentor!
What are your personal/professional goals that you hope to accomplish while you are an ESN Coach in Uzbekistan?
Personally, if I could be involved in making a yurt, I would be in felters’ heaven! But staying in one and hanging out with people who know the craft would do. Professionally, I would like to know how Uzbek teachers infuse their culture into their lessons and training and engage in cultural exchanges through the love of language.
What is the most interesting/surprising thing you have experienced or learned about Uzbekistan so far?
How close people live to nature. My husband has an organic food business in Mexico because people in our city do not grow their own food. Here, people in mahallas, where I live, have fruit trees, gardens and animals and they know how to take advantage of it. (And I am the happy recipient of their harvest.) My husband would be out of business here!
Do you plan on learning Uzbek?
Albatta. Howzir o’zbek tilini organaman. Haftada mening ikkita o‘zbek tili darsim bor. Dunyodagi eng zo’r o’zbek tili o'qituvchim bor. O'zbek tili oson emas, lekin men organishni hohlayman.
To learn more about ESN Coach Wendy Coulson and her dynamic teaching background, her full bio may be found here: https://www.esn-teachers.org/users/wcoulson