Following graduation from the Mind, Brain, and Education Program, there were a lot of jobs Richard Lambert, Ed.M.'08, could have taken in education. However, Lambert, then only 25 and eager to see more of the world, chose to teach English internationally.
"What attracted me to the field of education was that it allowed for a lifestyle of constant learning and developing -- whether [as] a teacher, administrator, [or] researcher," he says. "There seems a constant exchange of ideas, thoughts, concepts, and facts shared between you, colleagues, and students in a big pool of knowledge -- and in this respect, I love to swim."
After time teaching English in Russia, Lambert moved to Montenegro to be a teacher for the International House Podgorica Cambridge Centar, one of a worldwide network of language schools. He says the move has been a learning experience. "I went from Moscow, a city of 14 million to Podgorica, a city of 200,000, which was a dramatic shift in pace of life," he explains.
Lambert says he has encountered many surprises during his time in and out of the classroom in Montenegro, not the least of which is the people's interest in learning. "What is nice about Montenegro is that most students are quite motivated to learn English," he says. "And, overall the level of English proficiency among young people ages 18 to [their] late 20s is very impressive."
Part of Montenegrins' desire to be proficient in English could be the way media is presented in the small nation. Unlike other European countries where television and movies are dubbed in the national language, most media is in Montenegro is played in English, says Lambert. While this contributes to a fairly high level of English speaking skill, writing skills lag behind with people often making elementary level errors. "Students wishing to refine these skills or take international examinations come to study at our school," Lambert says. "This is why teaching is needed."
"[Montenegrins] know [learning English] will open doors for them on the international -- and even domestic -- scene," Lambert continues, noting that proficiency in spoken and written English creates opportunity for better salary, benefits, and career advancement -- especially with foreign companies based in Montenegro.
It is his students' clear motivation that makes Lambert's job teaching English such a dream for him. "As an educator having students with high levels of motivation -- whether intrinsic or extrinsic -- makes for a very pleasing teaching experience," he says.
Although Lambert recognizes that living and teaching in Montenegro may seem luxurious compared with the challenges of developing countries, he points out that it is still an "emerging Eastern European" country where "opportunities for employment, career advancement, and education are greater outside of its borders."
Ultimately, Lambert views teaching as an opportunity not only to serve a community, but also to create a level of understanding about the world for his students. "I want my students, who are eager to go out in the world, to go as articulate and well-informed learners, representative of their native Montenegro," he says.
Lambert feels he has succeeded when many of his students seek his advice about furthering their own education in America. "I was very happy to help them through the process," Lambert says. "Knowing they may find themselves studying outside of Montenegro and broadening their horizons is quite rewarding."