The rationale for offering students in our department the opportunity to study abroad as opposed to in College Station is twofold.
1) The study abroad program embraces the spirit of Vision 2020 and Texas A&M University initiatives to, “Require value-added off-campus opportunities for all students, such as study abroad, internships, research experiences, and/or co-op work-study that expose students to international experiences and culturally diverse environments.”
2) The added component of living and learning in a foreign environment will give our pre-service teachers the first-hand experience to better understand and empathize with the diverse learners in today's classrooms.
Each year many of our pre-service teachers elect to participate in one or more of the study abroad programs.
Krakow-Prague (2008, 2009)
Students traveled to Poland and the Czech Republic in conjunction with a course on children’s Holocaust literature. Places visited included Auschwitz-Birkenau, Nazi Germany's largest concentration and extermination camp facility in Poland and the Terezin Concentration Camp in the Czech Republic.
Eighteen freshmen and sophomore pre-service teachers and faculty leaders stayed with Mexican families and visited two schools: Christel House, a nonprofit school, and Gama, a private institution. At Christel House, the students actually taught a lesson they developed on the commonalities of Texas and Mexico. They served as conversation partners with student English language learners through LaSalle University's English Language Institute. Additionally, the group visited the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan and the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Basilica of Guadalupe, and saw a performance of the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. They also attended lectures on Mexican history, culture and education.
Students and faculty traveled to Copenhangen, Denmark and Amsterdam, The Netherlands in conjunction with a course on children’s Holocaust literature. Included in the study abroad experience were visits to the Museum of Danish Resistance, the Danish Jweish Museum, the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam as well as the Corrie Ten Boom House and the Anne Frank House Museums.
Students and faculty traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland and Dublin, Ireland to study Irish history and literature. Visits to the Ulster American Folk Museum, City of (London)Derry, Giant's Causeway in Northern Irelans and visits to the Dublin Writers Museum, the James Joyce House, and a walking tour of the Easter 1916 Rebellion were all included. Our travelers also spent St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, reveling in the cultural traditions and friendly hospitality of the Irish people.
Students took children’s multicultural literature and ESL coursework while teaching under the supervision of mentor teachers in the International School of Zug and Luzern. Instructors and administrators of the two international school campuses provided valuable after school workshops on the Primary Years Program curriculum, the International Baccalaureate Curriculum, and inquiry in the classroom. Cultural experiences for this study abroad included a visit to London and Oxford, England as well as an informative tour of the United Nations Building and historic Geneva, Switzerland.
Students took children’s multicultural literature and ESL coursework while living in the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy. Texas A&M pre-service teachers worked with local Italian teachers to provide an English language summer camp for local children. TLAC students took conversational Italian and Italian culture lessons at the center. Extensive student cultural experiences included visits to Rome and Florence, Italy.
Costa Rica (2009 – ongoing)
The Costa Rica Education program lasts five weeks and is based at the private language school, Centro Panericano de Idiomas (CPI). The first two weeks, students live with homestay families and attend Spanish language classes four hours per day at the Monteverde campus and the last two weeks they do the same at the school’s Heredia campus. In addition to intensive Spanish-language study, students examine four different subcultures in Costa Rica (central valley, cloud forest, the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea) through extensive travel and outdoor activities such as tropical rainforest hikes, volcano, and hot springs visits. Students also make observations at numerous public schools, work with a volunteer organization in an immigrant ghetto in the capitol city, visit an indigenous tribe living near the Caribbean coast, and travel up to the colonial city of Granada across the border in Nicaragua for several days. Arrangements have been made to expand the school observations in 2010 to include a week-long English language program in one of the public primary schools.
This three-week program will provide students with a uniqe context for learning about mathematics and science teaching practices outside the U.S. and to learn how hostory and culture influences classtoom proactices for elementary and middle school grades (ages 6-14.) The program culmiates with students presenting their own research or mathematics problem solving poster projects at the bi-annual International Symposium of Elementary Mathematics Teaching (SEMT) Conference, an excellent opportunity to network wit colleagues from around the world. Students will reside in the residence halls of Charles University (CU) in Prague. The classes and the conference will also be hosted at CU. For more information, please go to: http://studioabroad.tamu.edu/?go=CzechMathAndScienceEd.
Mexico (2011 - ongoing)
This is a Maymester program for which students can take up to six hours of course work in English as a second language methodology and assessment or teaching writing in a multicultural environment while living in the historic city of San Miguel de Allende in the mountainous region of central Mexico. Five days a week for two and a half weeks, pre-service teachers teach English in the local Rancho Viejo elementary school and conduct Saturday art classes for children. This intensive Maymester program is a true cultural immersion because TLAC students work on a daily basis with the local school children as well as take lessons in Spanish for educators. In addition to the work with the school, TLAC students visit the nearby cities of Dolores Hidalgo and Guanajuato.
Italy (2008, 2010, 2012)
During the spring semester study abroad program, students take up to eighteen hours of course work in children’s literature, Italian culture and art, and English as a second language methodology and assessment while living at the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy. Four days a week (Mondays-Thursdays) the pre-service teachers teach English in the local Dante Middle School, tutor Italian students in their preparation for the Trinity Exam in English after school, and work with Italian students in preparation for a bilingual stage production which culminates the semester and is performed in the local historical theater. This intense semester is a true cultural immersion because TLAC students work on a daily basis with the local school children as well as take lessons in conversational Italian. In addition to the work with the school, TLAC students tour Venice, Rome, Florence, and Arezzo. Students also have the opportunity to travel to their selected destinations Friday through Sunday each week.