Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Sarah Bischoff Discovers a Passion for Travel and ESL

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Sarah Bischoff arrived at UNCW with the goal of becoming a teacher. Now a resident assistant, Watson Student Leader and member of the UNCW Honors Scholar program, her experiences at the university have helped her discover a special interest in travel and working with English language learners.

As a freshman, Sarah lived in Honors House, joined the Watson Student Leaders and traveled to Finland with a group led by former WSL faculty advisor Amy Rottmann. The experience piqued her interest in both international travel and language acquisition. “It was an amazing opportunity to see teaching in another country,” she said. “In Finland, they teach children three and four languages. Seeing the importance they place on language really interested me.”

Sarah is now a junior, majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in English as a Second Language (ESL). She is a frequent ESL volunteer at Williston Middle School and the Mosley Performance Learning Center. A favorite experience was work last spring with a small group of Williston seventh graders who recently emigrated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “They spoke mostly French and I helped them with communication, social skills and assignments,” she said. “I loved it!”

Sarah’s honors research project is focused on English language acquisition in Ethiopia. She has analyzed transcripts of interviews with students who participated in WCE’s first field experience to Ethiopia to assess what they learned from visits to local elementary schools in Addis Ababa. In December, Sarah will continue her research with personal visits to the schools as a participant in the Ethiopian field experience led by WCE faculty Heidi Higgins and Michele Parker.

Parker, associate professor in WCE’s Department of Educational Leadership, is Sarah’s honors project faculty advisor. “Sarah is an amazing student and sometimes the roles reverse,” Parker said. “She keeps me on top of deadlines! We met in the HON: Introduction to Educational Research course I teach. She continually impresses me with her maturity, level of responsibility, and compassion. Recently, Sarah coordinated a meeting between another faculty member and myself. Now, as faculty, we are working together on an instructional strategy that Sarah will use while she collects data in Ethiopia.”

Sarah’s future plans include working with immigrant students and English language learners, and additional travel. She hopes to teach internationally after graduation and pursue her goal of ”helping children around the globe enjoy learning.”