Elizabeth Ollerhead, a graduate of LCC’s MA TESOL program, is truly a global citizen who is making a positive impact teaching English.
Ollerhead first explored the TESOL field when she taught English at the EUFRAT Language School in Pilsen, Czech Republic. Later, Ollerhead completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the Ted Rogers School of Business Management in Ryerson University, in Ontario, Canada. While she was studying, she taught English at the Canada Creative Education Center and at Ryerson University’s English Language Support program. These experiences propelled her to explore more opportunities to teach English globally.
In 2012, Ollerhead ventured to Fuzhou, China. In Asia, Ollerhead was employed as the Head English Lecturer and English Curriculum Designer; she designed course materials, delivered lessons, and administered language assessments. Her next job took her to the Middle East in 2016. Ollerhead worked for the Ministry of Defense Language Institute in Kuwait, where she taught English and cross-cultural communication skills to Arabic speaking officers in the Air Force, Navy, Army, Air Defense, Police and National Guard.
In 2017, Ollerhead enrolled in LCC’s MA TESOL online program. She was able to maintain her teaching job in Kuwait, while studying online with LCC. Each MA TESOL student completes a practicum course during their first year; all students prepare lessons, teach, and reflect on their teaching. Ollerhead’s practicum was at LCC as an instructor with Summer Language Institute (SLI).
Half-way through her studies, she completed her contract in Kuwait and moved to South Korea where she worked with Speaking Proficiency Enhancement Program (SPEP) training employees of Hyundai Motors in language skills and business English communication. While in Korea, Ollerhead conducted her thesis research.
Ollerhead reflected on her thesis research. “I enjoyed the research courses that led up to the thesis. They provided an opportunity to learn about different types of research being conducted in the field and made the task of conducting our own primary research for the thesis less overwhelming,” she reflected. Her thesis was a study of accent familiarity bias in spoken language assessments. She used a mixed-methods approach to research the impact that accents have on raters who are scoring speaking exams. After collecting speech samples from students, twenty EFL professionals rated the speech samples. Her study revealed the importance of the tools used to evaluate spoken language. Ollerhead successfully defended her MA TESOL thesis and graduated from LCC with honors in August 2019.
Recently, Ollerhead reflected on her experience in the MA TESOL program. She commented, “The program administration course was invaluable for my current position. It helped me to see the different roles of the various stakeholders in educational institutions and see how different policy decisions are made and enacted.” Ollerhead would recommend LCC’s MA TESOL Program. “Anyone involved in the second language education field, as a teacher, administrator or other decision maker could benefit from this program.”
In summer 2020, during the COVID pandemic, the administrators of LCC’s Summer Language Institute were searching for curriculum for the SLI students, because the usual North American staff was unable to travel to Lithuania. Ollerhead created a package of lessons for all SLI students who were lead by on-campus teaching assistants. Based on the ABC TV show, Shark Tank, SLI students’ designed new products or services and pitched their products to a panel of experts. All of the SLI students benefited from the experience thanks to Ollerhead’s clear direction and clever curriculum plans.
Where next? Ollerhead has recently started a new position as “Teacher Specialist” at a women’s teaching university in Somaliland (Barwaaqo). She is teaching 3rd and 4th year pedagogy courses and is also responsible for the professional development of the faculty. We wish her all the best as she starts yet another international adventure.
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