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​PC Professors Steer Allen ’09 Toward Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

1allen,-tom-main.jpgProvidence, RI--Tom Allen ’09 plans to become fluent in German during his current English Language Teaching Assistantship in Austria, which is part of a program administered by the Fulbright Commission through the Austrian-American Education Commission (AAEC) for the Austrian Ministry for Education, the Arts, and Culture.

The Fulbright Commission promotes understanding between the people of the United States and the peoples of 140 countries, including 51 countries with binational Fulbright commissions such as the AAEC.

Allen is teaching at Höhere Technische Bundeslehr- und Versuchsanstalt, a high school in Rankweil, Vorarlberg. He underwent a week-long teacher training seminar with the Austrian Ministry before he began teaching on October 5. Allen will teach until May 31, with the option of applying to teach there a second year.

As a political science major with a German minor at PC, Allen applied for the assistantship after PC German professors Rev. Leonard P. Hindsley, Ph.D. and Dr. Laurent Gousie (now professor emeritus) urged him to pursue German as a career option.

“I want to attain fluency in the language and this program provides me with the perfect opportunity to be immersed in German-speaking Austrian society, as well as a great environment to learn how to teach,” Allen said.

In Austria, high school student ages run between 14 and 20. Allen teaches in the three higher grades of the five grade levels at his school, which is a technical school for future civil engineers, electrical engineers and architects.

A typical day begins with Allen visiting several classes and either working with students on their existing curriculum or, at the teacher’s discretion, teaching his own lesson, usually on American cultural issues. He teaches in English, but speaks German outside the classroom.

“Schools are very specialized in Austria, and my school is attached to a school that prepares high school girls for careers in the hospitality business,” he noted. “As a result, I often eat a three-course meal for lunch for very cheap and then spend some of the afternoon preparing lesson plans for the next day. At night there are often community meals in the “Internat” building where I live, and on weekends I often visit friends in neighboring cities that are only 15 minutes away.”

The Brewster, Mass., native now lives in Feldkirch, Vorarlberg. Vorarlberg is the westernmost state in Austria, and Feldkirch lies on the Swiss and Liechtenstein borders.

“Vorarlberg is extremely mountainous and the German dialect is often difficult to understand, but the people are very friendly and outgoing,” he said. 

Allen said the mountains have provided great hiking, “and once it starts snowing, I will be snowboarding as much as possible after school.” He traveled to Krakow, Poland, during the school district’s “fall holidays” in early November and plans to travel to other places in Eastern Europe, as well as in Switzerland, France, and Spain. 

Allen is considering teaching German in the U.S. or pursuing international employment after his teaching assistantship concludes.

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