MIIS Alum Tara Bates, M.A. TESOL 2007, started out teaching abroad through the English Language Fellow (ELF) Program in Afghanistan. At about the same time her ELF fellowship finished, Kabul Education University had started working on a project and unexpectedly needed a course designer/mentor for their Afghan instructors. Bates offered to fill in for one semester. KEU seemed to like the work that Bates was doing and she was invited to stay on until the end of the project.
Besides helping with the KEU project, Bates is currently working for Indiana University as a consultant. She is helping develop and pilot courses for a Master’s of Education in TESOL. While she says she is really enjoying the work and having fun, she also likes that the work stretches her. Bates has had the chance to work with many different classes, including Curriculum Design, Assessment, Second Language Acquisition, Educational Research, and Adult Learning. Much of her work for these classes has been heavily influenced by the work of the late MIIS TESOL/TFL Professor Leo van Lier.
In her experiences in Afghanistan, Bates has made many intersting observations about the Afghan system of higher education. Although it is very poor, there is a sort of built-in program of professional development: Professors are expected to write an academic paper (or book) every three years. Bates is trying to leverage this professional development program to help the Afghan students and professors get a good handle on research so that they will have at least some of the necessary skills to pursue education and learning throughout their lives. In their Education Research class, she is trying not just to teach about research methods, but to also model them for the students and Afghan instructors.