SIT named Top TESOL Fellow Producing Institution

Publication Date: January 30, 2023
Publication Location: Brattleboro, Vermont
Contact: Kate Casa  |  [email protected]

U.S. State Department to confer award at March convention

The U.S. Department of State has named SIT Graduate Institute as the Top English Language Fellow Producing Institution for 2022-23. Of the 192 English Language Fellows selected this year, nine are SIT alumni.

Through projects developed by U.S. embassies in more than 80 countries, fellows work directly with local teachers, students, and educational professionals to improve the quality of English language instruction offered at prestigious universities and other academic institutions.

The State Department will present SIT with an award during a ceremony on March 23 as part of the 2023 TESOL International Convention in Portland, Oregon. (TESOL is an acronym for teaching English to speakers of other languages.)

"On behalf of all the faculty and students who have worked together over the last 50-plus years to build this program, I want to extend my gratitude to the State Department for the English Language Fellow (ELF) program, which has allowed so many of our alumni opportunities to learn, grow, teach, and develop strong intercultural relationships across the world. In particular, I want to extend congratulations to this year’s fellows for their exceptional work and dedication to education that has led to this announcement,” said Dr. Leslie Turpin, chair of SIT's MA in TESOL program.

SIT alumni selected as 2022-23 fellows are: Beth Barry, Loren Lee Chiesi, Bernadine Clark, Robert Emigh, Sharon Hannigan, Mary Burch Harmon, Geoffrey Moses, Mary Strabala, and Anita Tjan.

This marks the second time SIT's MA in TESOL program has received an award from the ELF program. In 2019, SIT was cited as the top-producing institution since the program began keeping track in 2006. At that time, a total of 57 SIT alumni had served as fellows.

See: SIT ranked top institution for English Language Fellows program

"We are grateful to the U.S. Department of State for once again honoring SIT in this way," said SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett. "We see this award as a testament to the strength of our program and to the commitment of our extraordinary alumni, all those who serve as fellows as well as countless others engaged in English language teaching, training, and learning around the world."

SIT's MA in TESOL program was founded in 1969, when it evolved from the organization's origins as a training center for early Peace Corps volunteers. Today, SIT has more than 3,000 MA in TESOL alumni. The program is presented in a two-year hybrid format that enables students to stay in their current jobs and communities as they complete coursework online, with brief summer residencies on the SIT campus in Vermont.

In 2019, Dr. Turpin and other professors added plurilingual pedagogy as a specialized track, making it the first TESOL program in the country to incorporate egalitarian approaches that celebrate diversity, mutual enrichment, and equity. At the time, Dr. Turpin said the changes were made to "more fully reflect new sociopolitical realities and invite a deeper exploration of the way linguistic and cultural diversity can enhance learning."

See: Building peace through language

The English Language Fellow Program is an opportunity for experienced teachers of English to speakers of other languages to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) with funding provided by the U.S. government.

“Fellows are able to achieve so much in their 10-month projects," said Joseph Bookbinder, director of the Office of English Language Programs. "They advance English language learning, celebrate cultural diversity, encourage critical thought, and model professional and civic engagement. Every day in their classrooms and in their communities, they are citizen ambassadors for both the United States and for their alma maters.”

For more information about SIT's MA in TESOL program, visit the SIT Graduate Institute website. For information about the ELF program, please visit the websites of the English Language Fellow Program and the U.S. Department of State. For press inquiries about the ELF program, contact the Department of State by e-mail at [email protected].