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Japan next stop for globetrotting educator

Erin Mikulec

Erin Mikulec (right of sign) with her colleagues.

Illinois State’s Erin Mikulec will be adding to her impressive international resume in 2017.

Mikulec, who serves as an associate professor for the School of Teaching and Learning and interim director of the English Language Institute, will complete her sabbatical at Akita International University, located in the northern Japanese city by the same name.

Akita International University in Japan

Akita International University in Japan

As part of her sabbatical Mikulec will teach three sections of an academic reading in English course for Akita’s English for Academic Purposes (ENP) program. It is the first of its kind in Japan to enable students to take English-only courses throughout their college careers. Because Akita’s academic schedule is slightly different than Illinois State’s, Mikulec will teach from April-July and use her first three months in Japan to develop curriculum.

The globetrotting faculty member has served as the ELI’s interim director since January. Mikulec also directs an annual study abroad trip to Brighton, England.

“Having had experience in the English Language Institute and with international students, this opportunity to teach for an entire semester in an international environment is the next step for my work,” she said.

Mikulec has taught in the College of Education for eight years. She earned her Ph.D. from Purdue with a focus on second and foreign language acquisition and TESOL. While completing her master’s at Middlebury College in Spain, she taught English to elementary students. She has delivered workshops on English language to students from Germany, Thailand, and Panama and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

The sabbatical will be her third visit to the Japanese institution. She served as a guest lecturer in 2015 at the request of fellow Purdue alum and Akita faculty member, Dr. Paul Chamness Miller-Kuriyama.

“I’m looking forward to developing a deeper understanding of Japanese culture, adding to my teaching practices, and bringing a new lens to the classroom for future teachers at Illinois State,” Mikulec said.

Among the cultural events Mikulec is anxious to see is the Kanto Matsuri Festival in Akita. During the celebration performers balance long bamboo poles called kantos adorned with numerous paper lanterns. Akita International University will field their own team of kanto performers.

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