UO faculty member Leslie Opp-Beckman has used the English language to inspire people around the world for more than 20 years.
Opp-Beckman’s time spent learning and teaching linguistics has brought her to more than 50 countries, and now Opp-Beckman has been invited by the U.S. Department of State to participate in the English language specialist program in the city of Izmir, Turkey.
The program sends English experts around the world to design curriculum, participate in training sessions and address local needs. Opp-Beckman was chosen from among approximately 80 other participants to go to Izmir this summer.
“We want to create partnerships, not a dependency,” Opp-Beckman said. “We also want bilateral exchanges, so we’re always learning at least as much from them as they are from us.”
The specialist program has invited Opp-Beckman to more than 40 countries. On this trip, an online course will run in the fall with some of the people Opp-Beckman meets in Turkey.
“Many times I work online and I never get to meet the participants,” Opp-Beckman said. “I’m super excited about this because I’ll get to actually meet them in person and then continue working with them online.”
Opp-Beckman’s interest in teaching technology and education enterprising goes beyond her work with the program. This past year she served as a dean’s fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences to help departments get their undergraduate courses online.
Also, as the director of innovative programing at the American English Institute, Opp-Beckman frequently works in education research and development outside the United States, specifically places that are seeking innovation and change.
“A lot of countries are using English as their lingua franca, as the mode of communication,” Opp-Beckmann said. “So they’re revamping their curriculum and their programs. They’re trying to teach in two or even three languages, and our teams here at UO assist with that.”
This work has led Opp-Beckman and her team at the institute to host massive open online courses. These courses have served more than 100,000 people in more than 200 countries, Opp-Beckman said.
The Turkey project this summer is similar to other projects UO faculty members are frequently involved in. The projects bring them to countries like Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Argentina.
“The University of Oregon is really lucky because there are probably half a dozen of us here at AEI who get regularly invited to do the specialist program,” Opp-Beckman said. “I think now more than ever it’s so critical that we celebrate these opportunities to build bridges with our international students, faculty and colleagues.”
—By Bryan Dorn, University Communications