Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey


Mike Garnett, TESOL Alum and B.U.I.L.D. Co-founder

Recent graduate Mike Garnett (TESOL’10) discusses B.U.I.L.D., the up and coming language learning collaborative at MIIS.

1) We’re in the Samson Center and even though it’s dead in here, I can still distinguish about four different languages around us. I hear you may have something to do with this? What is this B.U.I.L.D. initiative people have been telling me about?
mike garnett 10 questions

B.U.I.L.D. is a language club on campus. It stands for Beyond yoUrself In Language Development.  It was started last fall by Sky Lance Wagner (TESOL ’10).  He came up with idea of language club to give future teachers a venue to get some experience in the classroom and to give students a chance to learn a language without prerequisites. I jumped on board too and since then we have recruited teachers from the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and TFL (Teaching Foreign Languages) programs.

2) What languages are offered?

We started out with Spanish, French, Italian, German, Korean, Japanese, Russian . . . and I might be forgetting some languages.  The next semester we grew, and this semester we have more languages than ever. I think one person is even teaching Bulgarian.

3) Who usually signs up for these classes?

Usually graduate students at MIIS. We really just want students, but we take staff and faculty as well. Most students are in the TFL and TESOL programs, but we are really trying to reach out next semester and pull in people from International Policy Studies, Nonproliferation, Terrorism, Masters of Business Administration, and Masters of Public Administration.

4) Is English a second language for most of the students?

The majority are actually native language speakers from either the United States or Europe, and they already speak two or three languages and are interested in a fourth or a fifth.

5)  What is the goal of B.U.I.L.D.?

B.U.I.L.D. exists for people who maybe already know a little and want to know more. We want to offer language instruction so they can later transition into the more advanced language classes here at the Institute.

6) Are these classes taught one-on-one?

It depends on the language. The romance languages are pretty popular.  I would say on average that there are seven students per class. There were more students this semester, but the enrollment tends to fall off as the semester goes on because we're all in graduate school.

7) You mentioned that B.U.I.L.D. helps prospective teachers craft their skills. What was your experience like?

I co-taught Spanish for the first two semesters. It was strange - I am a native Spanish speaker, but I had never taught in Spanish, only English. I had to adjust.

8) Is there one moment or experience that stands out for you while teaching a class?

Wow, I think every teacher at B.U.I.L.D. has those exciting and amazing moments while teaching. I think the most exciting moment for me was working with Sky. His enthusiasm and attention to detail inspired us all. I’d say the idea behind B.U.I.LD. is so simple and needed. Seeing this idea take off was for me the most rewarding experience.

9) How do you define success for the teachers?

Well, it’s really based on personal goals. Some want to be able to gain confidence speaking in front of people; this is generally the goal for beginning teachers. For the intermediate teachers, it’s more about creating lesson plans and tracks.

10) Where can I find out about B.U.I.L.D.?

We’ll be all around campus at the beginning of next semester, so you can look for us there.  You can also email us at miisbuild@gmail.com.