ESL teacher to teach in Jordan over the summer

Dr. Gina Petrie was selected by the State Department to analyze the English department at a Jordanian college

ESL teacher to teach in Jordan over the summer

By Katherine Senechal, Reporter

Dr. Gina Petrie, EWU associate professor of English as a Second Language, has been chosen by a team at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan to teach over the summer in the country.

Petrie will be teaching and working in Jordan for a little less than two weeks with only two rest days, which she hopes to spend reconnecting with a group of Iraqi professors of English that was hosted at EWU in the summer of 2012 and to see Petra, an archaeological site in southern Jordan.

Petrie has been a lecturer for 13 years, since 1996, but took a four-year break to pursue a PhD. She strives to teach in a way that is specific to the students’ need instead of a generic lesson that is the same for every English learner.

A team at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, including the U.S. State Department’s Regional Officer and others from the university participating in the project, conducted the interview for Petrie on April 24, 2017. She was informed that she was selected for the position on April 28 this year.

“I expected to be nervous during the interview but instead I thoroughly enjoyed talking about the project with the team and hated for the interview to end” Petrie said. “I was chosen for this assignment based on my experiences in and research on the teaching of English for Specific Purposes (ESP),”

Though they based the selection on her experience with ESP, Petrie says most of her experience came from her global service and research in Nicaragua. Many people there learn English for a specific occupation, so the classes can’t be taught the same way a regular English class is structured. The Amman Technical College has an English department that contains two ESP programs: English for Tourism and English for Hospitality.

“The assignment I was selected for will call for me to carry out a needs analysis of the programs and then respond with a report and any needed products like suggestions for curricular change, supplemental materials, mentoring for the instructors, etc.,” said Petrie. “So, my work in Nicaragua has prepared me for this assignment.”

Petrie gave a presentation on the teaching of English for Specific Purposes to English teachers at the national Nicaraguan TESOL conference in December 2014. The Regional English Language Officer for Central America attended the presentation and asked to meet with her afterwards. She encouraged Petrie to apply for the specialist position and Petrie applied over winter break.

The program includes workshops, observations of classes and times for interviewing. Petrie will write a report upon her return and submit it to improve programs with the suggestions she makes. This report is to be submitted within a month of her return.

“I love to see how an idea that works in one place with one group needs to change or be adapted in another context to be successful,” Petrie said of her impending trip and how she can improve teaching and English programs at EWU.

The chance to grow and learn is an exciting factor for Petrie. She said the part she is most looking forward to in this trip is the chance to use her past experience and expand on it.