Every two years, 10 to 12 Target Language Experts come to Carthage from all over the world: China, Colombia, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Spain. Here are comments from recent TLEs about their experiences in Kenosha and at Carthage.
My First Experience as a Japanese Teacher!
When I was in Japan, my major was teaching Japanese to foreigners. I wanted to help increase understanding between people from outside of Japan and Japanese. Since I was in middle school, I have taken part in international exchange activities. So you can imagine how happy I was when I learned that I would be coming to Carthage to be a TLE of Japanese.
Still, on the first day of my Japanese class, my mind became a complete blank! All I had was a nervous stammer in front of 19 students. For the first two classes, the other Japanese TLE Tomomi and I taught together so I was not alone. Even so, I was really nervous. However, as time went on, I got to know the students and I began enjoying teaching a lot. I really feel pleasure when I see my students’ happy faces in the classroom when they understand the confusing things, especially if they couldn’t do it the first time, when they finally can write a whole word in the Japanese writing system. I also love to listen to their interest in Japan, Japanese and Japanese culture.
Those kinds of things make me so happy that I just want to do more and more. I have just finished my first year of teaching Japanese, so I will keep trying to make my Japanese classes even more interesting in my second year!
— Moeko Watanabe
‘My Second Home’
Since my childhood, the English language has been a passion. Little by little, I discovered the United States and their cultural characteristics. One of my objectives was to experience what I learned. And I knew inside me that something was waiting for me there. I would have accepted almost any job! I have been very lucky since one of my professors was in contact with Carthage College and told me about this opportunity as a TLE.
I didn’t know anything about this new experience. Everything was new and fresh. It was a new life coming on! I knew I wanted to do it.
Now, I know what was waiting for me. My teaching experience has been great and so enriching that it completely changed my life. Friendship was also part of my life here. I learned to love people more than I never did in my life in France. And I will never forget them! I will never forget my experience here. The United States will always be my second home.
— Celine Scipion
The good experience we have here may be said — though it is too familiar tales — that we can know the people and culture from all over the world.
About Japanese class and students, the thing that it surprised me is many students know about Japanese pop-culture: Manga, Music, Movie, etc. More than me. Because nowadays many students who are taking Japanese are motivated by the Japanese pop-culture.
— Hisahiro Yamada
Carthage Athletics: When it’s good to sit and watch
I am a great sports’ enthusiast. Although I am not very athletic, I get really excited when watching a game, and here at Carthage, there are many. For me it is amazing to see how almost everybody is so involved in different sports, something that is not really common in my country. In Colombia, soccer is the most popular sport and you can see that almost everybody is a fan, but here it is different. What is felt in Colombia with soccer is the case for several sports in the U.S.
The Homecoming football game was my first football game. The sport was new to me. I was so lost, and I imagine I was getting on John’s and Rene’s nerves, asking them questions every minute, being sure that the ball was in one place but … no, it was not, it was on the other side of the field and although they made fun of me for that, they were always willing to help me with my thousand questions. I guess they were pretty good at explaining me since I can go to the games and follow the ball.
Many of my students are on sports’ teams and although they may miss class sometimes, it is also a good tool to make students participate. Sports and teams can be a powerful tool to make them speak in the target language, as I discovered. Of course, showing students some interest in what they do is a good strategy to make them feel confident and open to participate in class.
Sports also provide an opportunity to meet new people or to share time with your friends. Baseball, football, soccer, volleyball, golf, water polo, swimming, track and field, and tennis are some of the sports played at Carthage. Going to these games is a very effective way to release some stress by cheering for the team, seeing some new faces and having a good time in a different environment.
I will be at Carthage for another year, during which I expect to continue enjoying all these games as much as I did that first time at Art Keller Field, with my friends, the band and Torchie. I’m looking forward to rooting for Carthage teams games with my TLE friends and others.
I want to thank my TLE friends for helping me when I needed it, and specially John and Rene for being there that day and for a wonderful first year here.
— Maritza Nemogá, Colombia
Thanks Dear Professors
When I was at high school, I was mad because I thought that my school was not the best one. Then one of my aunts told me that what made a good student was not the school, but the discipline and responsibility the person had. I reflected on her words and I concluded that she was right. However, success does not only depend on the discipline and responsibility of the student, but also on the quality of the professors.
When I started my master’s studies at Carthage, I was happy. I came to study and I did study hard. I was challenged not only by the material of the courses, but also by the language, because English was my second language and professors treated everyone as equals.
There were long nights and short weekends dedicated to psychology and methods, English Structure, Literature of Diversity, Short Stories, and perhaps the most important of all, my thesis. … There were good and hard times; but without doubts, there was a lot of learning to accomplish all the goals of each course: English, discipline, responsibility.
Since I am now enjoying my last days at Carthage College, I want to express my gratitude to all my professors. All of them gave me their support and advice, and I learned a lot from them. However, I thank specially Dr. Alan Wallace and Dr. Jacquelyn Easley for their excellent classes and their support of my thesis, as well as my advisor, Dr. Lynn Loewen. All of you are now part of my life, and all I learned from you now is going to be passed on to other students far away in Colombia. Without your help I could not have completed this important part of my life. Thank you for your patience and support.
— Mélany Rodríguez Cáceres, Colombia
A Landscape to Remember
Before I arrived at Carthage, I did not imagine what kind of weather and natural environment I would find. When I came, I began discovering the different faces of Carthage’s campus. First, of course, the lake — to me it seems more like the ocean. From my first days here, I have really enjoyed walking and playing on the shores of Lake Michigan.
When fall came, the trees changed the colors and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them. The winter was the first time that I really had lived in the snow and it was terrific. I felt like a kid with a new toy, I played with snow balls, I made my angel. The pictures I had seen of Christmas trees covered with snow finally became real for me. People ask me if I am crazy, how can you like the snow? But, yes I do, even if I sometimes shiver and feel a little cold.
Since I come from Cuernavaca, a very warm city in the central part of Mexico that is called “The Eternal Spring,” where it is rarely cold, Kenosha was a big change. For me was an amazing change, the first time that I could experience the different seasons of the year.
I also love animals and this has been my first opportunity to see in their natural environment some animal species rare in my hometown, like foxes, deer, geese, chipmunks and raccoons. I have spent hours watching them playing, eating, etc.
Carthage’s location has offered me an amazing and relaxing place to study, work, spend time with friends, and do fun activities during the different seasons. Definitely, for me Carthage and its location are a source of pleasure all year long.
— Claudia Rodriguez, Mexico
My Four Roles at Carthage
The acronym “TLE” means Target Language Expert, but I would like to redefine this for a while in order to display how being a TLE has implied changes in my life. This new definition would be Target Language Experiencer.
Through the use of both Spanish and English, I have had to function in four different roles as a teacher, a student, an office worker, and an alien! Each one of these roles has given me awesome moments and has made me grow professionally and personally.
I will start with my teacher role. In Colombia I was an English teacher, so I thought that teaching Spanish would only mean switching languages. That turned out not to be entirely true. I had to modify my classroom management strategies. The thing that surprised me most was that the strategies used with primary school students were effective with my college students. For example, Colombian children are really happy when they receive a happy face sticker as a prize for their student performance. And here at Carthage, my college students were really happy with these stickers. In Colombia my kindergarten students did not like to be called “niños”, the Spanish word for children, so when they were undisciplined and I wanted to reestablish order I counted to three, and my students automatically were quiet (after 3 they would be addressed as “niños”). Here this strategy worked with my freshmen students.
I cannot say that I ever feel that I am completely a student. I feel watched as a TLE by undergraduate students in the library, in the cafeteria, in the gym, even in classrooms. Some of my classmates turned out to be friends of students in the Spanish classes I taught, so they talked about me and then in my Spanish classes, my students made comments about the classes that I took. After a year I am used to that, but at the beginning I felt little uncomfortable.
My third role is office worker. I never thought about working in an office, but this came to my life here. It was an option that this program offers us to make extra money. It has been wonderful, I really like working in the Registrar’s office. I work with six wonderful people, who unconsciously or consciously have helped me to improve my English. Every day I learn words and expressions. Furthermore, I’ve learned a lot about American culture, mainly when the ladies make comments about events or things that happened in their everyday lives. During the summer I have had the opportunity of working every day so it has been another means of immersion in the English language.
Finally, my role as an alien. Before coming here the only definition that I had in my mind for the word alien was “a creature from outer space,” or E.T., but here I learned that in legal terms it is the word used to define my citizenship. Thus, I am an alien, which fits in several ways: defining my legal status here and how I feel sometimes adapting myself to the food, life style, and cultural issues in general.
Filling these four roles during my first year as a TLE has been challenging, interesting, and exciting. Overall, it is the best experience I have had in my life so far. I’m looking forward to the coming year.
— Ruth Solarte, Colombia
My Teaching Experience at Carthage
“Konnichiwa!” “Konnichiwa! Genkidesuka?” (Hello! How are you?)
This is a greeting between Japanese students and myself, which you can hear on campus. Even if my students are discussing a topic that is unrelated to Japanese class, I am always happy to hear them talking in Japanese. From my perspective (although it may be biased), students who are taking Japanese courses are very serious in their studies because most of them are eager to go to Japan for business in their future.
I am teaching not only language but also Japanese culture to show my students Japanese modern society and to sweep away stereotypes. I hope they will be the bridge to support better understanding and cooperation between Japan and other countries as well.
As a foreigner in the United States, I all see and learn about current American culture through my own eyes, “Seeing is believing,” and this is the first step to understanding different cultures from your own.
My second year here at Carthage is almost over. I cannot believe that I have been here for two years as a graduate student and teacher. I can still clearly remember the beginning of my life as a TLE. Beside the excitement of meeting new friends, I was anxious about both taking and teaching classes. At the start, I had an especially hard time expressing my ideas and feelings in English because I was too shy to give a presentation or to perform something in front of people. Moreover, I was struggling with speaking English. However through teaching, I was forced to become accustomed to explaining my thoughts in both Japanese and English because my students needed this. My English also improved because I did not hesitate to make mistakes in front of my housemates, other TLEs. This gave me more self-confidence when talking to native English speakers.
I am a teacher, but I have also been taught by my students through everyday conversations, both inside and outside the classroom. So I am grateful to my professors, all of my students, the TLEs, and the people who gave me wonderful opportunities here at Carthage College. I cannot possibly put my thanks into words!
— Tomomi Ozawa