DJ Kaiser Selected for a State Department Education Project
November 23, 2020
Webster University School of Education Associate Dean DJ Kaiser was selected as an English Language Specialist by the U.S. Department of State for their new Virtual Projects. Kaiser will work with State Department officials and English language professionals in Central America to develop two presentations in support of a biannual conference on English language teaching in Honduras. Each presentation will be delivered twice and made available online for future viewing.
The English Language Specialist Program is one of the premier opportunities for leaders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). The program is designed to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad.
“I am honored to be selected for this program, especially at a time when teachers around the world need even more support,” Kaiser said Thursday, shortly after he learned he had been selected. “I have been asked to present ways to adapt face-to-face methods and practices commonly used in TESOL to a remote teaching environment.”
Through the annual program, approximately 150 TESOL instructors collaborate with staff at U.S. Embassies in more than 80 countries to work directly with local teacher trainers, educational leaders, and ministry of education officials. Through the connections, they exchange knowledge, build capacity, and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions, and communities in the United States and overseas.
Kaiser, who also serves as director of Webster’s Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program in the School of Education, said he was interviewed for the Honduras project earlier this month. In that interview, he shared how he served on the Zoom Implementation Working Group at Webster and conducted training for faculty on the platform and ways to convert in-person instruction to Zoom. He also spoke about how he helped convert six-hour seminars for Webster’s National Professional Development grant to a remote format for St. Louis teachers, and led interactive Zoom seminars with TESL students in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
“I will deliver my talk in the first week of December, so I will be spending the Thanksgiving break developing my presentation,” Kaiser said. “I am excited about this opportunity, as it is a very timely topic, given the ongoing pandemic.”
Kaiser joins other Webster TESL faculty who are part of this network of English language professionals participating in U.S. Department of State projects. Vinodhini Reardon, visiting assistant professor of TESL at Webster Tashkent, served as a Senior English Language Fellow in Sri Lanka and Russia. Heather McKay, an adjunct faculty member in the TESL program, has served as a Senior English Language Fellow in Romania and an English Language Specialist in Slovakia and Turkmenistan. Ramin Yazdanpanah, another TESL adjunct faculty member, has served as an English Language Fellow in Vietnam and completed a virtual English Language Specialist project earlier this year for Nepal.
“We are very fortunate to have several TESL faculty who have been so active in U.S. Department of State English language projects around the world because they bring those experiences into our classrooms, which benefits our students and helps them learn about our profession throughout the world,” said Kaiser. “I am happy to share my international experiences and expertise as a new specialist in this program.”
The English Language Specialist Program was established in 1991 to support in-country, virtual, and mixed projects in which hundreds of TESOL scholars and educators promote English language learning, enhance English teaching capacity, and foster mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries through cultural exchange. During their projects, English Language Specialists may conduct intensive teacher training, advise ministries of education or participate in high-level educational consultations, and offer plenary presentations at regional, national, or international TESOL conferences. These projects are challenging and those selected represent the best of the U.S. TESOL community. In return, the program provides professional development opportunities to help participants experience different cultures and build skills that can greatly enhance their TESOL careers at home.
English Language Specialists are counted among the more than 50,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. The Specialist Program is administered by the Center for Intercultural Education and Development at Georgetown University. To learn more about the State Department program, visit elprograms.org/specialist.
To learn more about Webster University’s TESL program, visit webster.edu/catalog/current/graduate-catalog/courses/tesl.