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Impacting Communities with Capstones in Teaching English as a Foreign Language

YEREVAN, Armenia – A total of 29 graduating students from the American University of Armenia (AUA) Master’s program in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (MA TEFL) marked their final milestone with capstone presentations. This year’s capstone projects have reached a record number of projects in MA TEFL’s history that have made a direct impact in the larger community in Armenia and abroad.

The network of collaborating partners that hosted and supported MA TEFL capstone students included: Anania Shirakatsy Armenian National Lyceum, Armenian State Pedagogical University after Khachatur Abovyan, Children of Armenia Fund, Ghoghanje Children’s Center, Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex, “EURASIA” Charity Public Organization, Peace Corps Armenia, Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, Yerevan State University, Women’s Resource Center, and local secondary schools. AUA has benefited from capstone projects in two programs: the Certificate Program in Translation and Experimental English Classes for school-age children, both belonging to the Center of Research in Applied Linguistics.

During the MA TEFL program, Graduate Student Dianna Torosyan designed and piloted a course to teach English through environmental topics to middle school children in two villages. When describing her experience she stated, “Working in the villages was a new exciting experience. Seeing students` willingness to learn, I also was motivated as a teacher. Especially, students were very active and interested in community service projects. During the clean-up project in Hatsik not only our students but also the school headmaster and some other school children joined us to help to clean the village.”

Overall, nine MA TEFL students have developed course materials and taught around 170 people from under-privileged populations of Armenia: women with deprived rights, children and English teachers from villages, children with a low socioeconomic status, war refugees from Syria. They have designed and piloted English courses that ranged in topics including women empowerment, environment protection, human rights, character development, and religious diversity.

At the international level, eight capstone projects also found their way to the 22nd International TESOL Arabia conference in Dubai, and the UAE in March 2016, where the students presented preliminary findings of their projects.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides US-style education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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