Katrina Tupper
English Language Institute Instructor


Katrina Tupper knew she wanted to teach English as a second language (ESL) after traveling one summer with a friend to the island of Roatan in Honduras. They were both Sacramento State students at the time, and they casually started a volunteer project. For a couple of hours every day, they “would set up shop and teach English to vendors on the street in a back alleyway,” and Katrina saw firsthand how learning English made a positive difference in their lives.

Her desire to teach ESL grew stronger when she moved to Germany to attend the University of Freiburg, located in the Black Forest. There she studied second language acquisition and linguistics for her master’s degree and taught English to business clients on the side. She also squeezed in time to learn German, and the experience left a lasting impression on her teaching style. “Sitting in the opposite position, I realized how important it is for second language learners to be taught in a welcoming and comfortable environment, with high level professors.”

Katrina began teaching at the English Language Institute in 2015 with a classroom environment she describes as comfortable and engaged. But to make it happen, she has to “hook all of the students” and get them to participate, even nudge them a bit. “I find if students participate in the first week of class they are more likely to participate in the following weeks. This engagement also creates a family-like environment for all of the students.”

A Vietnamese student, who learned grammar and composition from Katrina, wrote this note to her:

I have learned a lot of lessons. You are a strict teacher, but it does not mean that you are not fun. You are funny, lovely and strict. I love to study in your class every day. I feel I did not waste any minutes in your class. When I did not understand anything, I came and asked you, then I received the answer from you which was very clear and made my knowledge stronger. Thank you. I need a teacher like you.

So one more time, thank you Katrina. By all my heart, thank you for being my teacher this session.”