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Elms College to Welcome Two Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced it will host two Fulbright language teaching assistants (FLTAs) during the 2018-19 academic year.

Akiko Takata of Kyoto, Japan, will teach Japanese language and culture, and Jill McMahon of Dublin, Ireland, will teach Irish (Gaelic) language and culture. The Irish FLTA position is co-sponsored by the Irish Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts.

“Thanks to the Fulbright FLTA program, we are able to broaden the range of languages that we offer in support of our academic programs,” said Joyce Hampton, director of student success and strategic initiatives at Elms. “Learning a language develops a global perspective and sparks an interest in study abroad.”

The college also regularly offers classes in American Sign Language, Spanish, and English as a second language.

Takata most recently worked as a teacher at Doshisha Junior High School in Japan. She earned her bachelor’s degree in linguistics at Tokushima University and her master’s degree in teaching Japanese at Kobe University. She also worked as an assistant language teacher in Dublin from July 2016 to February 2017, teaching Japanese to students at Dublin City University and four secondary schools.

In her teaching practice, Takata engages students and illuminates concepts by incorporating technological tools such as audio-visual teaching materials, tablets, and electronic blackboards. One of her future goals is to set up a support system in Japanese public schools for foreign students who lack Japanese language skills.

McMahon, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Irish and journalism at Dublin City University and a master of philosophy degree in digital humanities and culture at Trinity College, has worked solely in the Irish-language sector following her graduation. She most recently served as a government administrator with Gaeloideachas, an Irish organization that supports Irish-language immersion schools in Ireland.

She has eight years of Irish-language teaching experience, including working as a tutor and an Irish/art teacher, and participates in her Gaelic Athletics Assoc. club, Na Gaeil Óga, whose goal is to encourage people to speak Irish outside of school and work. She plans to incorporate extracurricular activities into her FLTA duties, to give students opportunities to learn Irish in less formal contexts.