Like every recipient of a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship, Chantal Deaton ’12 has plans to pursue research in addition to working as an English tutor in her host country of Germany. But for Deaton, the tutoring work she’ll be engaged with is particularly central to her future goals.
“I consider the Fulbright Teaching Assistantship a key step toward pursuing a career in teaching,” says Deaton, a German and comparative literature double major, who for the last two years has provided writing tutoring to peers who are not native English speakers. She also recently began working with primarily Spanish-speaking students at an elementary school with which the College has a partnership.
“I understand not only the difficulties of language learning, but also how empowering and rewarding it can be. I hope I can motivate students in Germany to take an interest in English beyond learning sentence structure and vocabulary. Learning German has been central to my personal growth since I came to college, and I hope some of the students I meet will experience learning English in the same way,” says Deaton.
Deaton gives much of the credit for her love of language and her interest in helping others master another tongue to her mother, a Swiss citizen who nonetheless knew English better than anyone else in their family, and to her professors at Bryn Mawr.
“My father is an abysmal speller. If there’s a knot that needs untangling, I ask my father, but if there’s a word that needs spelling, I ask my mother,” says Deaton.
While always a good student, Deaton struggled with spelling as a child and doubted her ability to master another language.
“When I first came to Bryn Mawr I did not consider myself a ‘language person,'” says Deaton. “I assumed my spelling struggles precluded me from pursuing foreign language and took German to fulfill a language requirement.
“However, in my first comparative literature class I learned to approach texts with a new set of questions, and caught my first glimpses of German cultural history. Without German literature and the Bryn Mawr Professors who encouraged me (Professors Imke Meyer and Azade Seyhan), I might not have overcome my self-imposed boundaries.”
Her teaching assistantship will be a return trip to Germany for Deaton, who spent her junior year abroad at Humboldt University.
In addition to her duties teaching English, Deaton hopes to research secondary-school student engagement with canonical and non-canonical German texts and films during her assistantship period. Drawing from her areas of expertise, she will analyze student-writing samples and gauge student interest in these types of texts.
After her Fulbright, Deaton plans to earn her masters or doctorate in German literature or comparative literature but remains unsure as to whether she’ll study in the United States or in Europe.
“As a dual citizen, I plan to live internationally and to benefit communities on both sides of the Atlantic via teaching and/or academic research,” she says.
Click here for profiles of other Bryn Mawr students who received Fulbright grants in 2012.