Student of Distinction: Jeanette Yeboah-Amoako

Jeanette Yeboah-Amoako

Graduate, M.A. in Linguistics, TESOL/SLAT option

Jeanette Yeboah-Amoako said her desire to become a teacher came to life in 2017 while volunteering in a dual language classroom at an elementary school in her home state of Michigan. After just one day, she was hooked and stayed on as a volunteer in the first-grade classroom for the rest of the year.

Having already achieved a B.A. in political science and government from Indian University South Bend, an M.S. in international/global studies from Rutgers University and worked as a public relations assistant for several years for ASAP Ministries in Michigan, Yeboah-Amoako decided to go back to school.

“When I arrived in Fresno in August of 2018 to begin the M.A. program in linguistics with an option in TESOL, I was setting foot in the Golden State for the very first time. I had been driven by a desire to learn how to teach ESL through Fresno State’s unique linguistic approach,” she said. “Being a nontraditional student who had been out of school for several years coupled with having no prior knowledge of the subject material forced me to work overtime.”

During her first year, she worked hard to make sense of the “strange symbols” in her linguistics classes while teaching English as a second language (TESOL) at a San Joaquin Memorial High School’s English as a second language (ESL) program.

“Jeanette performed so well in the TESOL Internship course that she successfully applied to the American English Institute (AEI) to volunteer as a Classroom Apprentice to gain more teaching experience. She performed so well in her apprenticeship that she then was hired for part-time work at AEI. Since she has been working at AEI, I have heard nothing but great reviews in regards to the teaching that she is doing there,” said Assistant Professor of Linguistics Jaydene Elvin, Ph.D.

Yeboah-Amoako is currently working on her thesis “Comprehensibility, degree of foreign accent, and pronunciation: A comparison of ESL learners’ perspectives and ESL teachers’ assessments.” The thesis is an empirical study focused on the difference between second language learners’ speech comprehensibility and degree of foreign accent.

“Due to the pandemic, Jeanette had to readjust her plan in order to record 40 speakers’ speech data on Zoom. The thesis work has pushed her to learn to use different new speech software for running listening tests and for analyzing speech properties,” said Professor of Linguistics Xinchun Wang, Ph.D. “Her thesis work on second language speech learning is partly motivated by her teaching observations as a teacher.”

Yeboah-Amoako has maintained a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA and is a member of Fresno State’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. Following graduation, she plans to teach in an intensive English program.

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The College of Arts and Humanities Students of Distinction represents the best of their department and will be honored at the Arts in Motion event at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 10 – the culminating event of the Arts in Motion Showcase week. From these students, one undergraduate and one graduate Dean’s Medalist will be selected. The Dean’s Medalists are then eligible to receive the President’s Medal, the university’s highest student honor.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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