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Originally hailing from the UK, Amy left her home in London in 2011 to explore the sights of South East Asia. Looking to connect with fellow travelers, she volunteered in Northern Thailand teaching English to local children in schools, childcare centers and hospitals. This experience led Amy to discover her passion for teaching and later inspired her to return to Thailand to work as an EFL instructor. In order to further harness her skills as a teacher and better meet the needs of her Thai students, Amy entered the MATESOL program at SFSU in 2014. It was here that she discovered her interest in curriculum development and pragmatics instruction. Amy is currently teaching advanced reading and writing at the American Language Institute and looks forward to heading back to Thailand after graduation to make use of her newly acquired teaching skills and experiences.

ayakaihara-resizedAYAKA IHARA

Ayaka had never imagined pursuing a career in TESOL until she met many struggling English learners at her workplace and volunteer site in her home country, Japan. Since then, through her study in the MA TESOL program, various teaching experiences, and conference presentations, Ayaka has been rigorously seeking ways to socially and personally empower her learners through TESOL. Ayaka is particularly interested in identity development of L2 learners and teaching of human life skills through English education, which she hopes to continue exploring at her current workplace, the American Language Institute, as well as in her future career


Dawne has had several careers in her life, but so far she thinks teaching is the best one. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English from U.C. Berkeley, she traveled and then lived and worked in London for half a year. Upon returning to the United States, she lived in New York, working as an editor before moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to earn two master’s degrees in fine arts and library science. Thirty years later, she is happy to have found a career in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Her recent work has included teaching at the ALI and tutoring for LTC Language Solutions. When she’s not teaching, she is happiest reading novels, biking, jogging, and visiting San Francisco’s great museums.


Jaruphan discovered her passion for teaching when she was a high school exchange student in Michigan. Being from Thailand, she has experienced learning English as a second language first-hand, and has a deep understanding of students’ feelings and struggles. With an MATESOL degree in hand, she hopes to be an inspiration and a good role model for her students. Currently teaching Oral Communication Skills and Listening at American Language Institute at SF State, Jaruphan is interested in creating a “safe and comfortable” space for students to learn and play with English. In her free time, Jaruphan enjoys traveling, baking, and discovering new places to eat.


Inspired by her middle school English teacher in Korea, Jihyo began her dream of becoming an English teacher at a young age. After graduating from college in Seoul with a degree in English language and literature, she started teaching English at a local high school. Over a decade of teaching, she had observed the challenges many Korean EFL students face, especially in speaking. This led her to pursue an MA TESOL at SFSU in an effort to acquire more successful teaching approaches. While completing her degree, she worked as a tutor and volunteered as a coach at the Day Labor Program and Women’s Collective in San Francisco. As she completes her degree, she looks forward to returning to Korea, hoping that she will be a more knowledgeable and skilled EFL teacher.


Lina thanks her Lithuanian-American upbringing for igniting her love of languages and language learning. Lina studied at U.C Santa Cruz where she explored a wide array of subjects before earning her B.A. in Mathematics and Economics. While studying abroad in Singapore, she was reminded of her passion for languages and teaching. This experience solidified the idea that she wanted to work with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. She had always known that she wanted to help people, yet asked herself in what capacity? Because knowing a language or not knowing a language in today’s society can have a significant impact an individual’s life, Lina chose to be a teacher of language so that she could facilitate cross-cultural, global communication and share and co-construct knowledge. This led her to the MA TESOL program at SF State, which has empowered her to pursue her goal. Lina currently teaches intensive, academic English at the American Language Institute. Her research interests include L2 writing, community literacy, theatre and ESL/EFL, and sociopragmatics.

rachael-resizedRACHAEL KOJAN

Rachael Kojan is a student of life, always eager to learn from the world around her and explore new cultures and traditions. Having done a considerable amount of traveling after high school, Rachael found herself, all too often, passionately teaching English to her new foreign friends. These English lessons naturally grew out of sharing and listening to personal stories of the many people she met around the world. After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Language and Culture from Prescott College Rachael decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in TESOL at SFSU, strengthening her foundation in the English language and providing her tools for becoming an effective teacher. In her free time, Rachael enjoys dancing, trying new recipes and going on exciting adventures.

reeta-photoREETA DUONG

Foreign languages have always been an integrated part of Reeta’s life as from a young age she was exposed to other languages and cultures through family and education. Her primary two languages that she learned growing up were Mongolian and Chinese. In addition, she studied Russian and English in school. In 2007, she traveled to the United States with the goal of pursuing higher education. While studying to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics at San Francisco State University, she became more passionate for language teaching through volunteering as a tutor in English Tutoring Center and a coach in Project SHINE. This experience led her to the MA TESOL program. The knowledge she gained through various TESOL classes provided her with insights into curriculum and effective teaching methods. Reeta is currently teaching reading and writing at the American Language Institute. She hopes to continue teaching writing and gain more skills to work with various proficiency learners. In addition, Reeta hopes to continue to work on curriculum development for ESL and community college programs.


Rima Alsekait has been fascinated with the English language since she was seven years old. Being a native speaker of Arabic, she used to pretend to be “American” and speak in English with her sister all the time. Her passion for English led her to major in European Languages, English from King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. After graduating, Rima decided to move to the United States to obtain her MA degree in TESOL in order to share her passion with the world. While in the program, Rima tutored at the Learning Assistance Center and the English Tutoring Center, which made her realize that she was interested in working with lower level students. In her free time, Rima enjoys working out, eating chocolates and drinking coffee.


Sofia grew up speaking Portuguese, but was raised in different countries, acquiring, in the process, English, French, Afrikaans, Spanish and German. Her passion for learning languages naturally evolved into an eager interest in teaching them. After earning a degree in Spanish from UC Berkeley, Sofia sought to broaden her pedagogical focus to include English, and decided to pursue a Master’s in TESOL at SFSU, where she currently teaches academic writing to multilingual students. Her research interests include pragmatics, language and identity, and curriculum development, through which she hopes to help reshape her students’ identities as multicultural individuals, as she continues to reshape hers.