Interviewed by Victoria Fedorets on September 21st, 2017
Sevtap is currently an Assistant Professor at Prince George’s Community College’s Language Studies Department. She holds an MA in Curriculum and Instruction with an ESL specialty from George Washington University. She is a Swiss born Turkish-American citizen who has had the opportunity to teach students from various social-cultural backgrounds.
VF: Sevtap, thank you for stopping by VIU today to introduce our students to [WATESOL’s] NNEST caucus and to answer some questions for us. Tell us a little bit why you are here today.
SF: Thank you again. My name is Sevtap Frantz, and I currently teach as an assistant professor at Prince George’s Community College as a full-time faculty member. Prior to that, I have worked as an adjunct faculty member in different institutions, such as George Washington University, Georgetown, and Northern Virginia Community College. I’m here today on behalf of the NNEST Caucus which is comprised of dedicated native and non-native speaking teachers.
Today I would like to talk about the Caucus and encourage the pre-service teachers, your graduate students, to become part of this group so they can feel empowered and encouraged in order to be well-informed about what to expect in the field.
VF: Thank you so much, Sevtap. How did you discover that you have an affinity for working with the ESL students?
SF: Well, I was born and raised in Switzerland. Even though I am a Turkish citizen, having grown up in a bilingual environment I was always inspired by foreign languages. I really enjoyed learning languages because in Switzerland they focus on teaching English, French, and German at a young age. Due to my background, when I went back to my home country Turkey, I was valued more by my language teachers, so I always felt inspired by them. Since then, I love and enjoy being with language learners as well as being in this field as an English language teacher.
VF: Thank you, Sevtap. Seems like you are very multilingual. You speak up to three languages.
SF: Yes, I speak three languages- fluently Turkish, English, and high intermediate German.
VF: Yes, and to briefly tell you about my story, I used to be fluent in German but when I stopped practicing it, I lost it completely. Now my level of German is not even novice.
VF: If you could give some advice to pre-service or in-service teachers about how best to approach the potential challenges of having multilingual classrooms, for example the socio-cultural differences, traditions, etc., what would that be?
SF: Especially for pre-service teachers, they need to be involved with the community; they need to know what they will be facing one day when they are in the classroom environment. So collaborating and being a part of local and national organizations will definitely give them an opportunity to collaborate, to learn what other teachers do. This will help them and guide them in the process to be better prepared for their teaching practices. Once they are teaching, keeping up professional activities and being continuously involved with these big national and local organizations will definitely help them in the field. Little things help a lot, so I would definitely encourage being involved with national organizations.
VF: Thank you. Thank you for your encouragement. What resources would you suggest for someone who wants to learn more about teaching ESL, and how do you stay informed in the topic yourself?
SF: First important resource for me, when I started in this field, was the TESOL Association. I definitely got a lot of information from their website and the blog. They have amazing online trainings. For example, I took their Foundations of Online Teaching course. So, the TESOL organization would definitely be good place to start.
VF: Sure. Thank you very much. In general, how do you plan your instruction?
SF: I try to differentiate my teaching. I focus on communicative teaching skills. In some classes, I start with a presentation and then I give my students a chance to practice and produce with the language, the traditional PPT style teaching. In some other classes, I may just start with integrating technology. I use free web tools to keep my students engaged. There are some amazing tools that we can use to differentiate our instructions. For example, one thing that I like using nowadays is Kahoot and Plickers. So, I might start my class with an online activity and ask my students to use their cell phones to participate in a game and have them review the material that we have learned through this tool together in class in a communicative way before we start evaluating the content further.
VF: So, it looks like your classes are filled with technology.
SF: Yes, I definitely enjoy technology integrated classroom teaching and I try to stay updated in the field, and again as I said, being part of the local and national organizations helped me see what other professors in the field prefer using, so I get inspired by them too. When I see a good presentation, it encourages me as well.
VF: Thank you so much, Sevtap. Last question if I may, what is your source of motivation and how do you keep yourself motivated.
SF: My main source of motivation is my students. I teach in a very diverse setting. Sometimes, I have adults; sometimes I have 16-year-old teenagers in my classes in a community college setting. It is not as traditional as the university setting, I would say. Therefore, it can be very challenging, but seeing my students enthusiastic, motivated, and willing to learn is the key motivating factor for myself. Getting that inspiration from them energizes me, and I try to look into different ways to make my classes more invigorating so they can keep their motivation up. I do believe in motivation. External motivational factors encourage students to keep up the hard work, seeing my students motivated is key for me so I do get my motivation from them.
VF: Thank you, Sevtap for being here today, for answering a couple of our questions and for your motivation, for your inspiration and for staying devoted to the field of ESL, for your participation in the NNEST Caucus, and I am looking forward to your talk.
SF: Thank you for having me here.