Taking charge of a classroom is a vital experience for every education major. At Franciscan University, you have two opportunities to do this; once during your student teaching senior year, and earlier, if you choose to participate in Franciscan University’s study-abroad program in Austria. There, amidst the grandeur of the Austrian Alps, you will have the opportunity to teach at one of six Austrian schools. And you don’t need to worry about missing great traveling opportunities! You will still be able to go on pilgrimages and tour Europe while studying and living at the Kartause Maria Thronus Iesu during your semester abroad in Gaming.
This invaluable teaching experience will immerse you in the Austrian culture as you teach English and possibly math to students in the nearby towns of Gaming and Scheibbs. With support from an Austrian teacher, you will teach a class of 12-25 students in vocational school or at a level between kindergarten and eighth grade.
Coordinated by Education Department Chair Dr. Kathryn McVey and assistant professor of education Dr. Tiffany Boury, the English Learners In Specialized Atmosphere (ELISA) program in Austria has become one of many cutting-edge opportunities you are given as a student in Franciscan University’s Education Program. Students in this program, says Boury, gain indispensable experience “that mimics what they may someday experience in their own classrooms when welcoming an English as Second Language student.”
Gabrielle Lund, a Franciscan graduate who piloted ELISA in 2010 and is currently working in the Peace Corps in the Gambia near Senegal as a primary teacher trainer, says that teaching in Austria broadened her perspective of systems and approaches to education. “The Austrian field experience gave me my first taste of working with English language learners,” she shared, explaining that she currently works in classrooms where students from different tribes and of different languages are “learning English and learning in English for the first time.” To enable her students to learn, she says, she applies strategies she learned in Austria.
Additionally, education majors are offered the unique opportunity to tutor international students enrolled in the Language and Catechetical Institute (LCI), which is also based at the Kartause in Gaming. Founded in 1992, the LCI equips Catholics in Eastern Europe and beyond to renew and rebuild the faith in their own countries. In tutoring these students with guidance from LCI co-director professor Jenny Healy, you will learn to apply invaluable one-on-one teaching skills in a culturally diverse and faith-filled atmosphere.
“We live in a big and beautiful world,” says Lund. “As future educators, you will have the opportunity to share your world experiences with your students. You can only open eyes and broaden perspectives as far as your own eyes have seen. The Austrian field experience will equip you with unique skills in an ever-globalizing world and give you experience with English language learners, a growing audience of students.”
As you take advantage of the challenging and international experiences Franciscan offers, the scope of lives you can touch and change as a teacher significantly and continually broadens.