Enhancing English language learning | KDU Penang University College

Enhancing English language learning

Christa Bixby is an English Language Fellow contracting through the US Department of State that was placed at KDU Penang University College for a ten month period. Throughout the duration of her contract she has aligned with the University’s and the English Language Fellow Program’s desire to promote quality English language learning and teaching throughout Malaysia. There were various projects which she undertook in order to work towards this goal reaching both educators as well as students. In addition to teaching various English language focused classes, Christa was able to host an American English Webinar series at KDU Penang University College where over thirty educators participated in watching and discussing various relevant and up-to-date TESOL teaching practices led by highly qualified instructors in the United States. The participants engaged in webinars related to best practices that were delivered with a practical and accessible component for immediate implementation.

Furthermore, one of Christa’s passions is writing, and it is something that she perpetually aims to help improve with the students she works with. However, as a lecturer, one only comes across a handful of students at a time. In order to support the students at KDU Penang University College as well as the lecturers, she created and directed the University College’s Writing Centre. This centre is available for any student who wishes to get help in the writing process or who simply wishes to have a tutor edit their work with them while explaining how and why to fix the errors identified. This centre was created with the hope that students would begin to become more independent in the writing process as they learned what areas they needed to improve on and why. Writing is not something that comes easily to many people, and to have an outlet where students can go without judgment or fear of poor grades is something that Christa believes will enhance students’ experiences at the University College.

On May 20th KDU Penang University College hosted the second annual Conference on English Language Teaching 2017 in conjunction with the US Embassy of Kuala Lumpur. Christa, the conference’s chair, provided a space for over a hundred international educators to come, share, and collaborate with one another. This workshop-style conference provided interactive and practical elements for teachers to use and implement immediately. Emily Claypool flew in from Thailand to offer the interactive plenary session on 21st century lesson design, and Mari Bodensteiner flew in from Laos to facilitate five consecutive sessions in the first ever offered ‘collaboration room’ at the conference. This conference was a breath of fresh air as the work teachers do was celebrated, and the theory and knowledge they gained was invaluable.

Overall, Christa’s time at KDU Penang University College was spent joyfully working with and supporting students in their endeavors to improve their English capacity as well as provide opportunities for educators to better themselves so that the TESOL field as a whole can better serve their distinct and varied communities. It is her earnest belief that students deserve the most qualified, passionate and knowledgeable teachers as they are the future of this world. Any opportunity for teachers to come together and work towards the quality of their field and their personal practice is something that should celebrated, which is why Christa was honored to have had the opportunity to work alongside such a driven University College that was supportive of creating the space for teachers to do just that.