This summer I participated in the FSU Center for Intensive English Studies Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program and began conducting research for my undergraduate thesis in Economics. The TEFL program was designed to prepare students for English teaching positions around the world post-graduation. Through this program, I was trained in teaching and cross-cultural communication skills that will support my current activities in Tallahassee and my future goals.
The main component of this course was lectures where we discussed strategies for student engagement, classroom activities, and technical language skills. These lectures were paired with tutoring and conversation partner meetings. The hands-on learning incorporated through weekly tutoring enabled students to immediately practice what we had covered in class, while learning about teaching challenges that are accompanied by cultural barriers. With my student from Saudi Arabia, I practiced teaching reading skills as well as practical English language such as navigating a drive-thru or checking into a hotel. I facilitated an intermediate level English class as the culmination of my TEFL program. I prepared lesson plans, activities, and executed a successful lesson on conversational skills and small talk. I hope to participate in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program in Cambodia after graduation. I am confident that after my TEFL program I am prepared to lead class and facilitate cross-cultural conversations between Cambodian and American culture.
Before COVID-19, I planned to spend the majority of the summer completing my Honors Thesis in Economics. I am studying the effects of 2017 changes to refugee resettlement policy in the U.S. on labor market outcomes for refugees. I collected data from the U.S. American Community Survey and the Canadian Labour Force Survey to conduct a difference-in-differences comparison between labor market outcomes in each country. Throughout this semester I hope to complete interviews with local resettlement agencies in Tallahassee that were unable to be conducted over the summer due to COVID-19. These interviews will provide insight into the impacts of resettlement policy on our local Tallahassee community. The goal of my research is to gain a greater understanding of the impact of resettlement policy on refugees and their local economies, with the goal of supporting resettlement policy that promotes higher wages and employment rates.
I am so grateful for the community the Social Science Scholars program has given me. I feel inspired to be surrounded by young leaders looking to make a difference in their communities. The students in my cohort have provided support through the completion of my project, and I have learned so much from listening to what they have achieved throughout our time in the Social Science Scholars program.
Molly McQueeney is a student at Florida State University studying economics and social work. Molly is an International Programs Ambassador at FSU, as well as a 2020 Social Science Scholar. This post is based on Molly’s experience in the Social Science Scholar program. You can connect with Molly on LinkedIn.
The feature image is from Pexels.