Lee News

Dirksen Teaches Lee-Developed Curriculum in Kenya


By Karen Chambless

Lee’s Dr. Carolyn Dirksen recently traveled to Kenya to teach an English class as part of a training program for pastors and Bible school teachers. For the course, she used curriculum developed by Lee TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) majors.

The program Dirksen taught with is run by the European Theological Seminary, Lee’s sister school in Germany, which offers Bible, counseling, and pastoral ministry training to Church of God leaders in Africa. The group of leaders has 48 members from seven different nations who meet twice a year for training. According to Dirksen, most of the course participants speak English as their second or third language, so they requested an “English for Theology” course to focus on a common language.

To fill this need, Dirksen contacted Dr. Chris Blake, assistant professor of TESOL and linguistics, who teaches a TESOL Curriculum Development class at Lee. The students in this class worked together during the spring 2016 semester to develop the curriculum used by Dirksen on her trip.

According to Blake, in a previous semester the students in the Curriculum Development class had requested a whole-class group project in addition to their own projects of designing individual curricula. The class consists of mostly upperclassman TESOL majors.

To develop curricula, according to Blake, the class followed a nine-step process including a needs and environmental analysis, curriculum design, assessment design, lesson plan design, and effectiveness testing.

“Here at Lee, we are challenged by world-class educators to pursue academic excellence in a practical context, which is exactly what this project entailed,” said Hayden Croxall, a senior TESOL major. “Over the course of the semester, we were provided the guidance and tools we needed from Dr. Blake but were encouraged to use the training we have already received to make it come together, which has left me feeling more prepared than ever as I head off into the ‘real world.’”

Student reads essay in Kenya
Kenyan student reads her group's essay

The curriculum development class also invited a current Lee student who is from Kenya to visit their class and discuss learning styles and activity effectiveness when it comes to working with people from that country.

“Designing the Kenya Project was one of the most significant assignments I have completed during my time at Lee,” said Ariana Dawson, a junior TESOL major. “It was a privilege to work with other students, Dr. Blake, and Dr. Dirksen to create a curriculum that is actually being used. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn how to think through and design an effective curriculum, and to work together to put classroom theory into practice. This project perfectly embodies the practical preparation we receive as TESOL majors.”

For more information about Lee University’s TESOL program, contact the Department of Language and Literature at (423) 614-8210.

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