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Jan Joseph
Sylvia Koestner

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.

Mark Basque
Mark Basque

Mark Basque received his B.A. and M.A in English at the University of South Alabama, where he has taught since 1983. In 2004 he attained the position of Senior Instructor in the English Language Center. As a Senior Instructor he has had the opportunity to teach every class offered in the curriculum to students from around the world. In addition, he worked in the University Writing Center for ten years, where he helped many international students formulate and revise essays and other compositions. Partly for this reason he feels particularly qualified to teach writing to our international students, but he also enjoys teaching grammar, reading and vocabulary, and TOEFL test preparation. He has always loved studying foreign languages and is fluent in French, with some facility in Portuguese and Spanish as well. When not in the classroom, Mark enjoys reading, especially in science and history topics, and his hobby of family history research has taught him that some of his own ancestors had to learn English as a second language.
Hanno van der Bijl
Hanno van der Bijl

Hanno van der Bijl received his B.A. in Philosophy and A.B. in Classics from the College of Charleston, and he holds an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He received a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the Boston Language Institute. He began teaching ESL at Kaplan International Colleges in Harvard Square and Boston. After moving to Mobile in 2012, he started teaching at the English Language Center. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, and relaxing with his family.
Helga Castano
Helga Castano

Helga M. Castaño received her BA in Teaching English as a Second Language and her MA in Administration and Supervision in Education at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. She is currently working on her Education Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction specialized in Teaching and Learning at the University of West Florida. She grew up in Puerto Rico where she started her teaching career and taught ESL for five years. She moved to Mobile, AL in 2008 and began teaching in the English Language Center in 2009. As a bilingual person herself, she enjoys teaching the diverse population of students at the University of South Alabama ELC because it allows her to learn about many cultures and other languages.
Chimène Gecewicz
Chimène Gecewicz

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.

Dennis Hidle
Dennis Hidle

Dennis Leon Hidle, Jr. received his B.A. in English and his M.A. in Post-secondary Education with focus in TESOL from Troy University where he taught ESL classes for four years. Afterward, he moved to Chengdu, China for two years. There, he taught as a foreign expert at Sichuan University and CISISU. He also worked with students preparing to travel overseas and taught TOEFL preparation classes and Cultural Studies with Great China Language Institute. Mr. Hidle returned to Troy University and taught Developmental English and English Composition for the 2012-2013 school year before joining the staff at University of South Alabama in 2013. Dennis is interested in linguistics and speaks functional Mandarin. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, movies, and horticulture.
Marvin Taylor

Marvin Taylor

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

Anne Zahra

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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