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TESOL Instructor Adds Emphasis on Florida

Teaching Florida culture

Tamako Ratliff began her English-teaching career in Japan. With her master's in applied linguistics and program-required internship under her belt, she began teaching English to the University of South Florida's INTO students in Summer 2011. Ratliff has found passion in her career because she can relate to the students' English-learning experience.

"I learned and am still learning English as a second language, myself. It has been a struggling, as well as, rewarding experience," said Ratliff.

To add to the program's curriculum, Ratliff has added an emphasis on teaching the students more about the Florida culture surrounding them. Ratliff believes that this addition will not only enrich their study abroad experiences, but also their English learning.

"The students are in the classroom for only 20 hours per week. If they learn about their local culture in the classroom, when they go outside of the class, they will have more success applying their knowledge. I also wish that when the students return to their countries, they will be able to describe the kind of place they lived and studied in," said Ratliff.

Ratliff focuses her Florida-related curriculum on subjects that will directly relate to the students' lives and things that they will most likely encounter on a daily basis. When teaching about Florida's nature, she introduced the students to trees and plants they encounter on the USF campus.

Ratliff enjoys teaching at USF because of the continued support she receives. It was with their help that her Florida-themed curriculum was implemented so quickly. She appreciates the opportunity to find new ways to engage her students, knowing that INTO's staff has confidence in her.

"Everyone in this program is making a tremendous effort to improve this language program. They are not afraid of making changes and trying the unknown in order to achieve the goal," said Ratliff. Ratliff finds her job most rewarding when she receives feedback from the students.

"When the students tell me that they have learned a lot in my class and that they like my teaching, it really makes me happy," said Ratliff.