Connecting Worlds Through English Education

From Bethel, to Cambodia, to Boston: passions for service, teaching, and understanding world cultures have driven Jaclyn Eichenberger '11 to pursue excellence in English instruction.

By Aiyanna Klaphake '20

March 27, 2019 | 2 p.m.

ChatENG founder Jaclyn Eichenberger '11 smiles for a portrait.

Jaclyn Eichenberger '11 serves the global community through English instruction as co-founder of mission-driven company ChatENG.

Dedicated to promoting positive change, Jaclyn Eichenberger '11 serves the global community through English instruction. Her intercultural experiences, coupled with her enthusiasm for teaching, ultimately led her to found ChatENG, a mission-driven company seeking to encourage global citizenship by supporting English learners with modern technology and authentic conversation.

For Eichenberger, teaching has always been a passion. "For as long as I can remember," she recalls, "I said I wanted to be a teacher." At Bethel, she was able to combine this passion with a long-time enjoyment of learning languages by studying TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Spanish.

While attending Bethel, Eichenberger studied abroad in Cambodia, a trip she credits with further cementing her decision to pursue a career in education. Teaching English and working with the local non-profits in Cambodia exposed Eichenberger to the realities of the world around her. "That trip was extremely eye-opening in my understanding of the world…," she says. "It anchored me to education, especially the field of English instruction."

However, Eichenberger's trip to Cambodia was just one aspect of her college experience. When she returned to Minnesota, Bethel continued providing Eichenberger with the support needed to actively pursue her interests. "The Bethel community really allowed me to receive a lot of individualized support from faculty," Eichenberger says. With the help of Professor Donna LeGrand, Eichenberger was able to further explore second-language acquisition in study abroad contexts through an individualized research study.

After graduation, Eichenberger joined AmeriCorps. "I was really interested in getting to serve my community in a transitional period in my life," she says. Over the next several years, this desire to serve remained prevalent as she gained further teaching experience, continued her higher education by earning a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and oversaw projects related to English Learner education at mission-driven start-ups Camp Hokulea and LessonPick.

“We believe English is access to connecting worlds. English gives students opportunities to have careers internationally and to be well-equipped for the global job market.”

— Jaclyn Eichenberger '11

In May of 2018, Eichenberger again put her love for serving others through education at the forefront of her career when co-founding ChatENG. The company is designed to promote global citizenship through real-time, remote English education that connects high quality teachers with students in Asia. "We believe English is access to connecting worlds," Eichenberger says. "English gives students opportunities to have careers internationally and to be well-equipped for the global job market."

Eichenberger explains that there is an ever-increasing emphasis on English education in many Asian countries, especially Korea. Many students gain strong English reading and writing skills but lack the opportunities to develop equally strong oral skills. By taking advantage of communication and content-delivery technologies, ChatENG creates an engaging classroom experience that includes real dialogue with instructors and ultimately develops students' confidence in speaking English as they progress through the program. "We create an immersive experience to foster authentic conversations so the instruction is more meaningful. Students can latch on more easily because it’s relevant to them."

As a co-founder of a start-up, Eichenberger balances several roles. "I am oftentimes liaising with our content developer and advising on best practices and research around curriculum development," she says. "I am coaching on how to work with teachers and better their practices. I do a lot of with the marketing and financial aspects as well."

Despite her commitment to ChatENG, Eichenberger still finds the time to work as an English Learner Instructional Specialist for Boston Public Schools. There she oversees professional development for teachers, spearheads language-related technology initiatives, and does all she can to simplify the tasks required of English Learner instructors.

Whether she is serving students in Korea or Boston, Eichenberger seeks to empower students through language and education. "A lot can be furthered by a community that is aiming to support one another and to help and propel other people," Eichenberger explains. "That is the thread that compels me to keep working."

Study TESOL at Bethel.

Combine your interests in language, education, and world cultures with a minor in TESOL at Bethel. Gain applicable experience connecting with students and exploring second-language acquisition to gain the skills you need to cross language barriers and prepare others for careers in English-speaking markets.

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