Ohio University

U.S. Department of State selects OHIO’s Talinn Phillips for prestigious English Language Specialist project in Brazil

Published: November 16, 2020 Author: Staff reports

Talinn Phillips, associate professor of English and director of the Graduate Writing and Research Center (GWRC), has been selected by the U.S. Department of State for an English Language Specialist project focusing on developing a nationwide writing center network in Brazil at the Federal University of Paraná.

Phillips is part of a select group, as her project is one of 130 that the English Language Specialist Program supports each year.  

“This is my first project with the English Language Specialist program and I’m honestly thrilled to be a part of it,” Phillips said. “It’s such an honor to have this opportunity to work with faculty in Brazil as they begin to develop their own network of writing centers. The writing center community has often been quite US-focused, so it’s also exciting to help bring new voices and experiences into those conversations.”

Phillips will bring together her expertise in second language writing, writing center development, and graduate writing support as part of this new effort to seed a network of writing centers across Brazilian universities. In contrast to many U.S. writing centers, which primarily focus on supporting undergraduates, the immediate need in the Brazilian context is to support graduate students and faculty who need to publish in English.

“The writing landscape is different in Brazilian universities than here and the immediate need is to help graduate students and faculty members publish in English,” Phillips said. “Since I’ve been working on issues of graduate writing support for over 20 years now, this project is right up my alley, plus I’m really excited to engage in this kind of international collaboration.”

In late October, Phillips gave a public webinar titled “What is a writing center?” It was the first webinar in an eight-part series that will happen throughout the academic year. She will also rejoin the project in February to work with participants on developing online tutoring and other online support programs for writers.

The English Language Specialist Program is an opportunity for leaders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad. Through projects developed by U.S. Embassies in more than 80 countries, EL Specialists work directly with local teacher trainers, educational leaders, and ministry of education officials to exchange knowledge, build capacity, and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions, and communities in the United States and overseas.

The program provides professional development opportunities to help participants experience different cultures and build skills that can greatly enhance their TESOL careers back home.