Sona Adamyan (MATEFL’ 22) Wins Best Teacher of the Year Award4 min read
Congratulations are in order to AUA graduate student Sona Adamyan (MATEFL ’22) who has emerged as the Best Teacher award winner, as announced by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia in October 2021. We sat down with her to find out more about the road to her successful win, the sources of her inspiration, motivation, and inner drive to teaching excellence.
Please tell us about your background. How did you get to study at AUA?
I first attended the Linguistic University after Brusov where I received a BA in Translation/interpretation (English-Armenian/Armenian-English), and subsequently an MA in Education Administration. Following my graduation, I served as an EVS volunteer in Poland working with Chechen refugee children, teaching them English and helping them with after-school activities.
From 2012-2013 I studied Chinese at Shanxi University in Taiyuan, Shanxi China. After returning from China, I started teaching English in a public school. In 2015, I became an eTwinning ambassador in Armenia and took part in many international seminars, conferences and workshops in Poland, Germany, etc. It was then that I understood I would need pedagogical education to be able to teach effectively and succeed in the field. So I applied to AUA, which was one of the best decisions in my career.
How long have you been teaching? How have your AUA education and the MATEFL program contributed to building your professional skills?
In the words of the eminent American motivational writer William Arthur Ward, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
I began teaching about nine years ago and have taught not only in Armenia but also in Poland and China. Although my teaching and volunteering experiences abroad have shaped the way I taught then, I owe most of my current teaching philosophy to the MA TEFL program of the American University of Armenia. It is here in this program where I learned how to motivate my students to learn, how to make the lessons more engaging and fun, how to develop lesson plans, what type of feedback to provide my students, how to do error correction, what activities to use, whether to use or not to use technology in the classroom, etc. My beliefs and philosophy of teaching have dramatically changed since I enrolled in AUA. Now I believe that one of the most important elements of teaching and learning a language are designing a curriculum that incorporates different learning styles, raising students’ motivation and encouraging them to learn, integrating technology in the teaching and learning process, and last but not least creating the desired atmosphere both in the classroom and in the workplace.
In fact, the AUA MA TEFL program has given me the greatest confidence and motivation in my career. It has enabled me to demonstrate curiosity and passion in my subject area, to work well and productively in a team and share my knowledge and expertise with peers and teachers, to motivate and inspire positive traits not only in my students but also in my colleagues. And most importantly, AUA has taught me to inspire. And I am sure that I will bring a positive attitude and high expectations to both my classrooms and my school.
You have been teaching in various places over the years. What do you consider the easiest and the most difficult thing about teaching?
The current globalization and technological advances have led to numerous challenges in our education system. As a result, the whole education system needs to be changed in order to provide new skills and competences for students to be successful both in their lives and in their careers. From my perspective, the easiest thing about teaching is to make good relationships/contact with students of all ages. However it is extremely challenging nowadays to motivate the current generation of students and engage each of them in the lessons.
I would add that teaching is a process where you learn from your students, parents, colleagues and the community. It is a lifelong process during which you acquire new knowledge, new teaching methods and consequently grow and develop as a professional.
You will be completing the MATEFL program soon. What is the topic of your capstone project?
My capstone topic is “The impact of eTwinning on EFL students and teachers learning and teaching”. There is a lot of research and articles published on eTwinning in many countries. But so far, in Armenia, we have not done research in this field. Thus, I want to be one of the first to see whether or not eTwinning improves students’ language and learning skills and how it impacts teachers in the process. As a matter of fact I want to become an “eTwinning” teacher trainer and create a lot of online professional development courses for eTwinning teachers worldwide. I would have never thought of this had I not studied at AUA and taken all the courses and, most importantly, got motivated from my professors.
You were recently awarded the Teacher of the Year Award. Tell us about the award. What does receiving this award mean to you?
Every year the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia organizes the competition for the “Best Teacher” of the year. Since 2018/2019 the format of the competition has changed allowing teachers to come up with their own projects which may include completed projects or those that will be done later in the year. In fact, the competition had several categories ranging from preschool education to secondary. I was the winner in the category of “Preschool education best pedagogical project” with my eTwinning European winner project in 2020 called “Busy Bugs in my Bag”.
Frankly, I have always wanted to win this competition. Although last year my application for the competition was not accepted due to some technical issues, my hard work and persistence paid off this year, and I was able to be one of the winners. Currently I am working on two other projects so as to be able to apply for the “Best Teacher” competition next year and win again. It’s not only about the winning/prize but the great motivation, satisfaction, appreciation, and pride the award gives me. It makes me understand that yes, indeed, teachers are the changemakers and the champions every student needs nowadays.
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.