The US Department of State has selected Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate student Jimalee Sowell for a nine-week English Language Specialist virtual project. Sowell is a PhD candidate in IUP’s Composition and Applied Linguistics program.

As a member of the project team, Sowell will focus on preparing English language teachers from Central Asia to present at the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) International 2022 Convention in Pittsburgh.

In spring 2021, Sowell carried out an English Language Specialist project with Central Asian English teachers to guide these teachers in writing TESOL conference proposals. Officials call her project “a resounding success,” as 70 percent of the teachers who participated were accepted to the TESOL 2022 International Convention, which typically has a 20 percent acceptance rate.

For the upcoming project, Sowell will instruct the teachers from the first project who were accepted to the TESOL Convention to help them prepare their conference presentations.

The English Language Specialist Program is the premier opportunity for leaders in the field of TESOL to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad.

It is sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the US government.

In 2021, the English Language Specialist Program celebrated its 30th anniversary. Since 1991, more than 800 English Language Specialists—representing the best of America’s educators from all 50 states—have encouraged critical thought and erudition, celebrated their cultural diversity, and showcased their professional and civic engagement strategies to millions of educators and students through in-country, virtual, or mixed projects.

During their projects, English language specialists may conduct intensive teacher training, advise ministries of education or participate in high-level educational consultations, and offer plenary presentations at regional, national or international TESOL conferences. These projects are challenging, and those selected represent the best of the US TESOL community. In return, the program provides professional development opportunities to help participants experience different cultures and build skills that can greatly enhance their TESOL careers at home.

English language specialists are counted among the more than 50,000 individuals participating in US Department of State exchange programs each year. The Specialist Program is administered by the Center for Intercultural Education and Development at Georgetown University.

IUP is the only university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to offer Doctor of Philosophy degrees, hosting 13 doctoral programs. Doctoral degrees are offered from the broader, more traditional (philosophy, anthropology) to the career-specific (safety sciences, respiratory therapy).

In addition to these doctoral programs, IUP offers some 40 master’s programs and more than 100 undergraduate degree programs, combining rigorous classroom work with numerous internships, education abroad, research, and other experiential learning opportunities.