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Oyungerel Puntsagdulam

is the 2013-2014 Mongolian FLTA at Indiana University.

"I came from Ulaanbaatar, which is the capital city of Mongolia.  I was born there and grew up in UB and I love my city. I work as a foreign affairs officer and English teacher at Royal International Institute, which is an accredited center for some internationally renoOyungerel “Oyuka” Puntsagdulam wned professional bodies like; IAM - Institute of Administrative Management, ICM- Institute of Commercial Management and CTH- Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality. All these are UK based institutions and they offer Diplomas in the following fields of study: Business Administration, Marketing Management, Human Resource Management, Tourism and Hospitality Management.

In 2012, the Mongolian Royal Academy became partners with Virginia International University. This collaboration opened a new door for Mongolian students to obtain internationally recognized degrees in Mongolia. These degrees include Bachelor and Master Degrees.

At my position in my institution, I work with the visitors that arrive each year from foreign institutes and universities to help them settle in Mongolia and act as a translator/facilitator. I also teach English for beginners to pre-intermediate level in one year English Preparatory class and “theory of translation” class for journalism class in my institution. 

It is interesting being a FLTA and teaching Mongolian for students in Indiana University in Bloomington. In my institution, previously I was teaching Mongolian language classes for our foreign lectures and our instructors. That experience gave me some background for how should I teach Mongolian language in the Indiana University.

Why did I want to be being a FLTA? Because the FLTA program gives me the opportunity to refine my skills, increase my English language proficiency and extend my knowledge of the cultures and customs of the United States.  First of all, I want to see the academic environment in the U.S.  When I am teaching in my country, students are really interested to know if their teachers have been to foreign countries where English is spoken. In 2009, I was selected as a volunteer of “Global Xchange” program to the United Kingdom, and I worked for the organization “Leonard Cheshire Disability Center”. When I came back to Mongolia, I realized that I didn’t know much about the United States when students asked about the similarities and differences between those two countries.

For this reason, I am taking the following courses: Teaching English as a Second Language, Academic Culture and Language in American Universities and Improving Comprehensibility, which will give me useful knowledge and information for my work at my institution and for my future study. The “Academic Language and Culture” courseintroduces academic language and culture at universities within the Unites States with a focus on practical use. Also I’m studying TESOL methodology, which will be very helpful for when I return to my institution and in my future teaching career. The final course I am taking is “Improving Comprehensibility”. I think my accent and my English fluency could be improved through the interactive learning environment at U.S. universities.

Usually FLTAs take two courses in each semester, but in fall semester I am taking three courses. Because I want to learn more and more in a year, which is kind of a short time to take advantage of this study opportunity. Also I am planning to attend some other English courses with the International Studies Organization.  I will work so hard because the one year will go very fast.  

Another part of being a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant is teaching Mongolian language to students. When I was in the U.K., many people asked me if my home was like a ‘yurt’ or tent, and if in Mongolia, people rode horses, camels and yaks to school or work. I think these questions came from the influence of some documentaries, which show only the Mongolian nomadic lifestyle or some negative side of Mongolia.

So I want to show that Mongolians use technology similar to the other countries including the U.K. and the U.S. I would like to enhance their understanding of Mongolia and share my culture and lifestyle with the students, faculty and society at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Therefore, I am planning to organize Mongolian language conversation hours, serving Mongolian traditional foods and having some interesting activities, including our nomadic traditional games. 

Time has been flying and already one month of my Fulbrighter ten months has passed. When I come to the U.S., the first few days I felt a little bit of culture shock because of hot humid weather, which is very different compared to my country, new people, diverse cultures and new society, but I’m getting better day by day.

Also, I am planning to write a “Guide for the next Mongolian FLTAs”, which include some useful tips to make his/her life easier when they first arrive. That might be helpful for them to adapt to the new culture and environment and to cope with the stress from their cultural shook.

I strongly hope I will show and share the skills and knowledge I learn from my time at Indiana University to my students and faculty at my home institution when I return to Mongolia.

We wish Oyuka the best for her time at Indiana University!