Greetings!

I have created this portfolio to help you learn about me. The site includes videos, photos, writings and more. The content is always evolving so stick with me!

I have been fortunate to have experienced much of the world. For example, I worked in South Africa from late July to early August 2015. Visit the English Language Specialist – South Africa page for details and photos.

Eager students in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (August 5, 2015).

Eager students in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (August 5, 2015).

In August 2014, I joined The International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA) in Côte d’Ivoire. I presently teach 3rd grade Language Arts and Science. I love my incredibly demanding job! Everyday I guide my young learners through Common Core-based curriculum and strive to have it all make sense to their 8 year-old minds. It’s a creative blast!

The Roots

My 3rd graders experiencing one of many root systems at ICSA.

My time in Côte d’Ivoire began in October 2013. I was a Senior English Language Fellow through the Center for Intercultural Education and Development at Georgetown University.* My duties primarily involved English teacher training and facilitating English-based educational events with the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan. Please see the EL Fellowship Highlights page for photos and details.

Teacher Training Workshop, January 23, 2014, U.S. Embassy - Abidjan.

Teacher Training Workshop, January 23, 2014, U.S. Embassy – Abidjan.

Late summer 2013, I was honored to work as an English Language Specialist in Pakistan. You can learn more about that project by clicking here.

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Weekend excursion to the mountains near Murree, Pakistan (September 2013)

Early summer 2013, I proudly completed two years as an English Language Fellow in Burkina Faso. During this time, I trained hundreds of Burkinabe teachers in improved instructional techniques. I also conducted several English “club” activities to promote the usage and utility of the language. The EL Fellowship Highlights page has details about my Burkina experience.

Young learner lesson in Gaoua, May 31, 2011

English activity in Burkina Faso (May 2011)

From the summer of 2008 to the fall of 2010, I worked as a teacher trainer in Seoul, South Korea. The Videos page has examples of my teaching from that period.

Excellent TESOL participants in Seoul (2010).

Excellent TESOL participants in Seoul (2010).

Before South Korea, and while I earned a Master of Education in TESOL, I taught English as a foreign language in Thailand. Visit the Videos page to see some classroom activities.

Some of my 5th graders in Nakhon Pathom (2007)

Some of my marvelous 5th graders in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand (2007)

Prior to life in Asia, I volunteered with the United States Peace Corps in Niger, and worked on an HIV prevention project in the capital city, Niamey. You can read more about the project here and see a comment from the White House here (page 4-5).

My teaching philosophy has been informed by the notion that meaningful interaction is essential to language acquisition (e.g. Terrell, 1977). Of course, there are no guarantees for creating meaningfulness, but trying to provide a context relevant to a learner’s interests, curiosity and language ability is surely a good way to start. It’s also a challenge that keeps me motivated.

My personal interests include following world events, staying fit and learning more about cool things like jazz and cinema.  Again, as you look around this site, be sure to view the videosphotos and writings. Thanks for the look and feel free to contact me at djissa@yahoo.com.

Keep well!

Don

Reference

Terrell, T.D. (1977). A natural approach to second language acquisition and learning. The modern language journal. 61(7).  325-337. Retrieved May 1, 2007, from JSTOR Arts & Sciences III Collection database

*This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website.  The views and information presented are the English Language Fellows’ own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program or the U.S. Department of State.

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