Training Teachers at a Language Education Non-Profit

Hi! I’m Chloe Van Dyne and I’m in the class of 2022, majoring in German and Elementary Education. This summer I was very fortunate to receive funding from Wheaton to have a virtual internship with the Global Language Network (GLN). GLN is a small, DC-based nonprofit that focuses on language education for adults. This past summer alone, we offered 90 different classes in over twenty-five different languages for students to choose from. 

Buongiorno! Guten Morgen! Buenos Dias! These are all ways that I would greet my teammates when I signed on to Google Meets for the day. I would log on at 9am and either continue working on tasks from the day before, or I would message my supervisor, Krista, to see what I could help with that day. I was working with Student Support for the first part of the summer, but I eventually shifted into Teacher Support. My work would be classified as “Operations” and I was constantly checking the many email boxes for emails from students and teachers. I also managed a lot of spreadsheets and data.

Before classes started for the summer, I was trained on how to train teachers. This was what I was interested in—much more than emailing and making dozens of Skype meeting links. During this training, I learned about the curriculum, their theory on language education, and how to teach the teachers how to use Skype or Zoom for their classes. It’s interesting because the teachers at GLN are native speakers who volunteer to teach their language. Most do not have previous experience teaching, so GLN trains the teachers on how to teach. They had already done this training before I started at GLN, so I met with teachers to make sure they were prepared to start their classes. I answered any questions they had about the curriculum and teaching virtually. This was the best part of my internship because I was able to meet so many of the teachers and help them to feel confident about their teaching abilities. 

Another part that I really enjoyed was when we had team meetings with the full-time staff and my fellow interns. We would meet on Zoom and chat about things besides our work. It was our version of a virtual “water cooler break.” After one of these meetings, I met with three other interns to analyze the curriculum and consider how the in-person lessons could be altered for virtual instruction. This was interesting and I felt like I was able to contribute to the organization in a meaningful way. We didn’t get to work “live” on Zoom together very often, so that day was particularly memorable. 

It was my first time working virtually besides finishing up classes last semester. It was challenging at times, but I think it really helped to prepare me for this semester of remote/ hybrid classes. I’ve found that my classes this semester have significantly more independent work than in past semesters, likely due to the virtual nature of the semester. The work that I did over the summer at GLN has definitely helped me as a student this semester.