Faculty & Staff

Mr. Michael Coggins

Mr. Michael Coggins

Instructor, Intensive English Program - Center for International Education

Instructor, Intensive English Program

ML 5121
707 Schott

Phone: (513) 745-2097

Degrees:

  • MA, English as a Second Language, University of Minnesota
  • MA, South Asia Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madision
  • BA, Linguistics, University of Minnesota

First Year at Xavier University:

2010

Biography:

Since I was old enough to distinguish a Bronx dialect from a Southern drawl, I have been fascinated by language. What started with games of separating and labeling English language dialects grew later into distinguishing foreign accents and imitating them. I began making up my own languages in school and then puzzling over all the possible grammars. It should come as no surprise that, as a kid, I was enchanted by both Elvish and Klingon; well, maybe not just as a kid. Language, clearly, has always been more a passion than a hobby for me.

I have had the opportunity to study a number of languages both formally and informally over the years. After I graduated high school, I signed up for a year-long intensive Russian course through the US Army, and a few years later I returned for an intensive 6-month Spanish course. Those experiences focused my interest in language enough so that, after leaving the military, I majored in linguistics for my undergraduate degree. A few years later, my wife and I moved to Belgium for three years, where I had the chance to live and work in the French language. Once back in the US, I went to work on a master’s degree in South Asia studies, and studied the Indian languages Hindi and Marathi.

It was after the birth of our first daughter that I decided to try my hand at teaching language. I enjoyed teaching ESL as a volunteer at a local adult school so much that I went on to earn a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language. While earning my degree, I taught Spanish to undergraduates and tutored in Hindi. After the birth of our second daughter, I started an informal Marathi school for second-generation Indian-American children, like mine. Since moving to Cincinnati several years ago, I have taught English as a second language at local colleges and universities, ultimately finding my home teaching here at Xavier.

I teach because I want to learn; I learn because I want to teach. Every one of us has skills and knowledge worth sharing, and we all learn with each new experience. What I want is to be a conscious part of this process, not just for myself but for others too. Languages have always held a fascination over me, so I believe that it is through language instruction that I can best enter into the greater dialogue of knowledge. I am convinced that good teaching starts not with subject mastery, but with a willingness to appreciate each student’s intrinsic value as a human being, respecting each person’s unique personal history and identity. In my classroom, I make sure to dole out healthy doses of humor to ease anxiety and encourage camaraderie, and I strive to conduct myself in a way that lets students know that while I judge their work, I do not judge them as people. I believe we each have a responsibility to grow and succeed in life but not in isolation; as members of a wider, interdependent community, we must help others along their paths as well. For me, language teaching is a powerful tool to help make our connected world a better place for us all to grow and succeed. 

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