Skip to header Skip to Content Skip to Footer

UNCW Receives State Department Grant to Train Ukrainian ESL Teachers 

UNCW has received a $73,200 U.S. Department of State grant to design a professional development program for English as a Foreign Language teachers from war-affected secondary schools and those serving displaced students in the Kyiv region.  

Kateryna Forynna, director of the English Language Center, and Daisyane Barreto, an assistant professor at the Watson College of Education, are designing a comprehensive curriculum for the EmpowerED training program to provide ESL teachers the knowledge and resources to become trainers. The program is a collaboration with the National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute.” 

“We estimate that about 1,500 students will indirectly benefit from this program,” said Forynna. “The surge in internally displaced students in the Kyiv region and the forced transition to blended learning underscores the need for teacher professional development in trauma-informed strategies, blended learning and innovative English language instruction. The EmpowerED program is not just about immediate relief, but also about building a more resilient education system for the future.” 

The UNCW team will conduct an assessment to identify challenges related to English language instruction, implementation of the Content and Language Integrated Learning methodology in EFL classrooms, and integration of internally displaced students. The program will offer a four-month online training in early 2024 and a three-day in-person conference slated in 2025 for about 20 teachers.  

“They will then serve as agents of change within their schools, sharing their expertise and training with at least 50 additional teachers from participating schools,” said Forynna. “This training will be facilitated through the open access online self-paced course specifically developed for this program. Using the train-the-trainer approach, the program aims to create a multiplier effect, reaching more educators and students across various schools in the Kyiv region.” 

Barreto’s expertise in designing and delivering online professional development for educators and in teaching technology integration are invaluable for this project, Forynna noted.  

“These teachers need support not only in terms of educational resources to continue their work in the midst of the war zone in Ukraine but also social and emotional preparation to navigate the challenges that come with traumatizing events such as living in war zone areas,” said Barreto.  

In 2022, Forynna collaborated with Iryna Simkova and Yuliana Lavrysh, both Faculty of Linguistics at KPI and co-principal investigators for the grant, to implement a Collaborative Online International Learning project that incorporated global issues and sustainable development into the ESL curriculum at UNCW and KPI. 

“This program will empower secondary school teachers to support internally displaced students effectively, leading to increased engagement and improved language skills,” said Simkova.