Montana State University

MSU's Branch receives Fulbright to teach in Indonesia

August 16, 2010 -- Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service


MSU English professor Kirk Branch, who is an expert in teaching rhetoric, composition and English teacher training, says he likes to teach in unusual locations. This fall may be the most unusual as a Fulbright Scholar Award takes him to Java to teach for a year. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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Montana State University English professor Kirk Branch is used to teaching in somewhat unusual locales, but this fall he will teach in the most exotic of all.

Branch, who has taught literacy studies to graduate students at three universities as well as to students on an Indian reservation and in an urban jail, has received a Fulbright Scholar Award to teach English for a year at Satya Wakana Christian University in Salatiga, in Java. Java is an Indonesian island.

"My whole career has been fueled by teaching in places that are not traditional college classrooms," Branch said. "So, my family and I are really looking forward to the experience."

Branch is a specialist in rhetoric, composition and English teacher training. He and fellow English professor Lisa Eckert direct MSU's Yellowstone Writing Project. He also served for two summers as the academic adviser to MSU's Middle East Partner Initiative, a U.S. State Department summer program that brings high-achieving students from the Muslim world to the U.S.

"I love working with teachers of English and I love seeing a different context for teaching and education," he said. "I get very interested in figuring out how to teach in places that I don't know about."

He said he will be teaching English and U.S. literature to Indonesian students who speak English. However, he's unsure how fluent his new students will be.

Branch said he enjoys working with students who struggle with the English language and applied for the Fulbright because he and his family look forward to the challenge of living and getting to know a country that is out of their comfort zone.

He said he applied for the Fulbright in Indonesia because he and his wife, who have sons who are 10 and 14, have long wanted to experience living in another country. He said the area is family-friendly, and will also be a stretch for the family, who love snow sports.

Branch said the town where they will live is about 150,000 people, "which is small for Indonesia" and very tropical.

Branch said he hopes to return to MSU having learned new insights about how to prepare students how to teach as well as grow once they are in their classrooms. He's also interested in studying Indonesian techniques of teaching English writing in their language departments.

Kirk Branch (406) 994-7139, branch@english.montana.edu