Webster Tashkent Hosts Fulbright English Teaching Assistants for Media Literacy Workshop

Webster University in Tashkent hosted a workshop on media literacy for 15 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) on April 7-8. Speakers who gave lead seminars consisted of Webster staff and faculty, including Julie Smith, an instructor in the School of Communications and a specialist on media literacy. The other speakers were faculty and staff based in Tashkent. Presentations ranged in topics such as media in Uzbekistan, news values, ways to discern news from misinformation. The workshop was organized thanks to a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent.

The workshop’s express goals included helping ETAs learn more about media literacy. Xenia Mathys, an ETA assigned to co-teach at a school in Fergana, said in a Telegram interview, “It seems to me that the only media that Uzbek people use as a whole is Telegram and sometimes Instagram and those are not very regulated in terms of content, so students, and adults, might end up on channels or in profiles that are misleading without really realizing it.”

Kamola Abdurasulova, one of the workshop organizers, stated that another aim was to equip ETAs with media literacy tools “in the context of teaching ESL classes in the regions.” Abdurasulova explained, “they learnt practical methods and activities to apply fake news related topics in their classes. Apart from this, they were able to make connections with local and international experts in the industry.”

Hannah Rothwell, who is a teaching assistant at Fergana State University, shared what was most useful in the workshop for her: “learning how to analyze news sources for bias. Specifically what questions to ask, like who benefits from telling me this information, who can profit from it, etc. I plan on using the information I learned at the conference to host a conversation club about news sources.”

Fulbright ETAs are American citizens with undergraduate degrees from American universities, participating in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistants program, funded by the U.S. Department of State. Their assignments have placed them at different cities of Uzbekistan, from Nukus to Andijan. The ETAs’ mission is to serve as native English resource at public schools and universities and co-teach alongside their Uzbekistan counterparts. 

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