Linguist to Help Guide Global English Language Learning Body | Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine

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CU Boulder’s Rai Farrelly hopes to use TESOL International Organization board position to make English a more global and inclusive language


A linguist from the University of Colorado at Boulder has been named to the board of directors of TESOL International Organization, the organization recently announced.

Rai Farrelly, a linguistics professor and coordinator of CU Boulder’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages ​​(TESOL) program, has been chosen by her peers to help lead the organization, which is the world’s leading authority on the teaching of English, with over 11,000 members from 169 countries.

Rai Farrelly, professor of linguistics at CU Boulder, has been appointed to the board of directors of TESOL International Organization.

Beyond assisting with budgeting and strategic planning, Farrelly hopes to use the position to help define and elevate the organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion and access efforts. so that they don’t just stay with management, but rather ripple out significantly to everyone in the organization. In turn, Farrelly hopes these efforts will make English a more global and inclusive language.

“It’s exciting to be asked the question,” remarked Farrelly. “Being elected felt like a good validation for all the time and effort I put into this career and this particular job.”

It was a combination of a love of languages ​​and travel that brought Farrelly to TESOL after earning his BA in Spanish at the University of Utah. For Farrelly, like many entering the profession, “teaching English was a doorway, a way out into the world”.

However, while earning her doctorate in TESOL at the University of Utah, Farrelly transitioned from traveling to teaching educators, a passion fueled in part by working with Burundian refugee women.

These women were not literate in their native language, Farrelly said, and so she found herself wanting to know more about their backgrounds in order to teach them better. This took her to Tanzania, where she visited a refugee camp, met the families of her students and made friends in the nearby village, where she was invited to help build a secondary school.

After returning and raising funds, Farrelly founded a non-profit organization and, over the course of a few years, built the school. This project then evolved into Wezesha Projectanother non-profit organization founded by Farrelly that improves educational opportunities for young people in western Tanzania.

These efforts continue to influence Farrelly’s work and the way she teaches future educators, she says.

“I have to remember when I’m preparing (future educators) that they’re not always going to land in a high-tech classroom. They could end up in parts of the world where I don’t want them to be in the situation I was in when I was teaching these Burundian women. I want them to be able to adapt a bit… think of ways to modify what we do to fit the teaching context.

Farrelly then served as an assistant professor in the MA TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) program at the American University of Armenia in Yerevan, and assistant professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics and the MA TESOL program in St. Michael’s College in Vermont, before coming to CU Boulder, where she has overseen the TESOL program since 2019.

“It’s really cool to see this program growing and thriving and getting new feet. It’s exciting to be a part of it,” commented Farrelly.

TESOL is an organization that empowers and empowers you, and makes you feel like you’re part of something important.

TESOL is the largest professional organization of teachers of English as a second or foreign language in the world. It offers continuous learning opportunities for English teachers as well as an annual convention. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization also provided online and distance learning tools in all regions of the world and assistance in making content accessible.

“The organization unifies all efforts around the world, and I am a strong supporter of teachers joining a community of practice. I think that’s where we go to learn, reflect, share, and so TESOL is a massive community of practice that brings a lot of people together,” said Farrelly, adding that TESOL is an organization that “brings you in and empowers you . , and makes you feel like you’re part of something big.

Farrelly will serve on the TESOL board until 2025.

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