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Alumna selected by U.S. Department of State to complete specialist project in Iraq

Lauren Leathers

March 15, 2021

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Kathleen McGovern (Ph.D. ’20), an alumna of the College’s department of language and literacy education, was selected by the U.S. Department of State for a six-week English Language Specialist project that will focus on how to design and implement engaging online language instruction in Iraq. Her project is one of 150 that the English Language Specialist Program supports each year.

McGovern will collaborate online with a group of approximately 30 Iraqi and Kurdish university English teachers from Baghdad and Erbil to improve digital language instruction in Iraq and enhance online communicative approaches for university and faculty trainers. Additionally, the project will collaborate with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

Kathleen McGovern “Developing and leading these workshops on digital TESOL instruction with Iraqi educators means an opportunity to connect across cultures and distance,” said McGovern, who currently serves as a lecturer in the applied linguistics program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “It also means that I am able to bring the skills my education has afforded me to a region of the world that has only recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, begun implementing online instruction. I’m excited to both teach in this context and to learn from my Iraqi cohort about TESOL education in this region at this unique moment in history.”

Founded in 1991, the English Language Specialist Program is the premier opportunity for leaders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad.

Previously, McGovern was a Mary Frances Early College of Education Research Award Scholar and won UGA’s 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest on the Arts Thesis Award. Additionally, her book titled “Enlivening Instruction with Drama and Improv: A Guide for Second Language and World Language Teachers,” co-authored with Melisa (Misha) Cahnmann-Taylor, a professor in the College’s department of language and literacy education, will be available March 31.