Luiza Vardanyan
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AUA MATEFL Alumna on Studying and Teaching Online

3 min read

After earning her undergraduate degree in English and Communications from the American University of Armenia (AUA), Luiza Vardanyan stayed on for graduate studies subsequently completing the MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (MATEFL) program. This year the AUA double alumna had the chance to celebrate her graduation at an unprecedented double commencement ceremony for the Classes of 2020 and 2021.

Vardanyan highlights that the education at AUA far exceeded her expectations. Besides providing her with a high-quality education, AUA has also equipped her with important skills she could use in most life situations. “AUA has shaped me into a global citizen, someone who can think both critically and analytically in any circumstance, someone who can be both an active listener and an effective communicator, and someone who dares to be an initiator and think out of the box. All of those are skills I gained in class and through involvement in many extracurricular activities that AUA encourages students to take part in, such as student clubs, campus events and workshops.”

Due to the unprecedented restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions worldwide had to shift to an online mode. As an MATEFL student, Vardanyan experienced first-hand both sides of the coin: she studied and also taught online. 

“I had always anticipated that virtual classrooms would someday take over traditional ones. That is what drove me to research and experiment with teaching through videoconferencing,” notes Vardanyan. She started teaching online long before the outbreak of COVID-19 experiencing early on the challenges and upsides of teaching via virtual platforms. So, when AUA shifted to online classes, she did not face any difficulties. Instead, she took on the opportunity with enthusiasm to complete her graduate studies online and simultaneously work as an English language instructor. “My teaching role was insightful as I could see and feel what it means to study online from the students’ perspective. This helped me to reconsider my teaching methods and philosophy of distant learning.” 

Vardanyan believes that online teaching is more challenging than face-to-face teaching. “Instructors who wish to teach online need to be extremely patient and willing to lend a helping hand to those students who struggle with online technologies. As for professional skills, online teaching demands more rigorous skills in classroom management, lesson planning, and attention to detail. To be in control of what students do during online lessons is rather arduous and demands long hours at my desk devising methods of how to keep students’ attention on the lesson. We are lucky to live in an era of technological advancements that have availed us of online applications, games, and quizzes in virtual learning platforms that enrich students’ learning experience and help them enjoy the learning experience.”

AUA has returned to face-to-face instruction with both faculty and students ready to implement what they have learned during the past year and a half. Vardanyan advises current AUA students to help make the most of their AUA learning experience. “Make memories at AUA, spend time in the Student Union, play games and socialize with classmates, work on assignments at the AGBU Papazian Library, and take active participation in campus events” she counsels. 

At the moment, Vardanyan works for AUA Open Education as an instructor of General English and exam preparation courses. Apart from that, she is also developing her own English learning blog, which aims at enhancing learners’ knowledge of English and confidence in speaking the language. A life-long learner by nature, she is looking forward to reaching higher peaks on her career path.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.