Sylvia Koestner, Director of the English Language Center, received her B.A. in English and German for Secondary Education from the Otto-Friedrich Universität Bamberg, Germany. She holds an M.A. in German Literature and an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Alabama. She taught for Accent Courses summer camp programs based at the University of Reading, U.K. as well as various English as a Second Language courses at the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Most recently Ms. Koestner taught at the Intensive English Program (IEP) at the University of Dayton, Ohio. In addition to teaching Freshmen Composition courses at the University of Alabama during her graduate studies, she administered the English Proficiency Placement Exam (EPPE) for incoming international students. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling and learning about other cultures.
Chimène Gecewicz has lived in the United Kingdom, Ghana, and various states within the United States. She holds an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology and an M.A. in the Teaching of Foreign Languages with TESOL emphasis from the University of Southern Mississippi. In addition to teaching at the University of Southern Mississippi from 1995 to 2008, Ms. Gecewicz has worked as an editorial assistant at the University of Mississippi Press, a staff writer for a monthly publication on a U.S.A.F. base in the United Kingdom, the director of an after school program for low income students, and a public school teacher with English as a Second Language students in grades K-12. She has presented on ESL teaching methods at a number of conferences, and she is presently working on an oral history project to examine the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Hispanic residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She loves to travel and has a fascination with foreign languages and cultures.
After graduating from the University of South Alabama, with a B.A. in international studies, Marvin Taylor went on to Indiana University in Bloomington, earning an MS in Education with a concentration in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). He worked fourteen years outside the United States, teaching over three years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its Ministry of Defense and Aviation, then spending the next eleven years as EFL Lecturer at the United Arab Emirates University, where he served additionally on the student services committee, conducting tutorials. During this time abroad, Mr. Taylor acquired further credentials, such as the Royal Society of Arts/University of Cambridge Licensing Examination Syndicate Certificate of Teaching English to Adults (RSA/UCLES CELTA) and a Certificate in Education Technology from Michigan State University. At conferences (such as TESOL Arabia), he gave presentations on the subject of Arabic-English transfer. Upon returning to Mobile in 2004, he joined the faculty of the English Language Center of the University of South Alabama. "Mr. Marvin" also has administered the Center of Applied Linguistics’ widely acclaimed Basic English Skills Test (BEST) orally to over 600 immigrants since 2006. In June 2009, he started an ESL program in Saraland, teaching English to Hispanic workers employed in building the Thyssen-Krupp steel mill in Calvert. Mr. Taylor has a working knowledge of Spanish, Arabic, German, Russian and French.
Anne Zahra holds a BA in French and Master’s in Secondary Education from the University of South Alabama. She has studied abroad in Canada, Germany and France and has extensive experience in foreign language and English as a Second Language instruction. She has taught courses in French, German, Journalism and English as a Second Language in Mobile, AL and Panama City, Florida and Pensacola, Florida. Her main goal as an ESL teacher is to help students prepare for successful university study and employment in the United States or within an English-speaking environment. As a lifelong speaker and learner of foreign languages, Mrs. Zahra emphasizes the need for practice and strong study skills. In her free time, Mrs. Zahra enjoys reading and travel, particularly to the Kingdom of Jordan.
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