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Radford University hosts visiting Iraqi Kurdish educators

The Language and Culture Institute at Radford University (LCI@RU) engaged RU and visiting faculty and administrators from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq in a unique international forum about English language education on Aug. 12 in Heth Hall.

Representing three Iraqi-Kurdistan institutions (the universities of Halabja, Raparin and Zakho), the 14-person party from the Iraqi Kurdistan Rural University Partnership Program discussed pedagogy and curriculum with RU’s Dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Kate Hawkins, Associate Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies Laura Jacobsen, Professors of English Carolyn Mathews and Robert Williams, Associate Professor of Teacher Education and Leadership Patricia Talbot, Associate Director of the LCI@RU Charlene Dandrow and Jodie McKoughan, a senior communications major.

"It was fascinating to hear so many similarities bubble up during our conversations," said Williams. "They struggle with similar issues and practices that we do. To hear about teaching conversational English struck me as a unique challenge as, well, conversation in English to us is second nature."

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The two-hour open conversation was part of a joint effort by the Kurdistan Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, U.S. Department of State and International Research and Exchanges Board to build sustainable relationships between universities in rural Kurdistan and the United States to advance their English language departments. The LCI@RU coordinated the RU visit with the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute (VTLCI), who oversaw the team’s regional visit. The VTLCI and LCR@RU provide language-related programs and services for international academic and professional development.

"They learned and we learned. A takeaway for me was how we face common challenges and concerns," said Hawkins. "It was exciting to hear their enthusiasm and their commitment to student service."

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Aug 20, 2014