Get to Know HFC: Rosemary Miketa utilizes technology to help non-native speakers learn English

Release Date
Rosemany Miketa has brown shoulder length hair and wearing a white shirt, smiling in photo.

HFC English Language Institute (ELI) instructor and Center for Teaching Excellence & Innovation (CTEI) co-director Rosemary Miketa’s first students were her parents.

“My parents were first-generation Lebanese Australians, who only spoke Arabic and French when they migrated to Melbourne, Australia in the early 1950s during the White Australian Immigration Policy. This was an immigration restriction act that limited non-white immigration to Australia to help keep Australia British. My parents were forced to learn English, but they struggled to do that without any formative education in language acquisition. I was their English as a Second Language (ESL) support,” recalled Miketa.

This cemented her path to go into teaching, a profession – more like a calling – that she has enjoyed for 27 years. She has been at HFC for 16 years.

“I truly enjoyed helping my parents with learning English, and teaching felt natural,” she said. “It just came easily to me, and l have a lot of patience to help others, especially if English is not their native language. This is why I began teaching English classes in Australia and England and began focusing on ESL in Spain for more than 10 years by using technology to help accelerate proficiency. The Spaniards were ahead of the game when it came to technology in the classroom.”

Helping non-native speakers learn English

Born in Australia, Miketa is the third of four children. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Deakin University in Mt. Waverly, Australia. She then earned her first master’s degree in media communications from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and earned her second master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Bond University in Queensland, Australia. Besides English, Miketa speaks Arabic and Spanish.

Miketa has been married to Greg for 19 years and they live in Birmingham. The two met when Greg was working for Dow and had been stationed in Australia. When he returned to the United States, Rosemary joined him and moved to Michigan. They have a son who is in his freshman year at Michigan State University.

Miketa spoke about how she discovered HFC.

“Because I have strong ties to my Lebanese family in Australia, I found myself visiting Dearborn to feel closer to home as a second-generation Lebanese Australian,” said Miketa. “As an immigrant, I would frequently visit Michigan Avenue to buy Lebanese food supplies to feel connected to my roots, because l love Mediterranean food and missed home. I missed the diversity of cultures that was prominent in my cosmopolitan hometown of Melbourne. I then started to look for teaching positions in the area, knowing my Arabic ties would feel at home in Dearborn.”

Miketa continued: “After being a stay-at-home mom for three years, I missed being in the classroom, so I applied for the part-time ESL teaching position with (now retired HFC English instructor) Dr. Mary Assel and taught evening classes in the ELI. I loved it! Helping Arabic students learn the English that they need to bridge into our composition classes became my next calling. As an immigrant to the U.S., I could easily identify with my students. I could feel their homesickness and understand the cultural experiences associated with immigration. This is why I applied for a full-time position when it became available.”

Instrumental in equipping HFC classrooms with HyFlex technology

Miketa joined HFC in 2007 on a part-time basis. She became full-time in 2017. She reports directly to HFC ELI Director Molly McCord and HFC Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Nealon. One of her strong suits is implementing the latest technology in the classroom.

“I am very proud of my transformation to online learning before and after the pandemic. I love technology when it helps bring people around the world together. I am happy to share what I know with my peers,” said Miketa. “With my extensive training in online modalities, I have successfully implemented more hybrid technologies in language acquisition classes and was able to convert the advanced ELI writing classes into Live Without the Drive (LWD) classes and helped to pioneer HyFlex with great success after installing the technology in the CTEI HyFlex room for faculty professional development.”

“Rosemary is a tremendous asset to the ELI,” said McCord. “She is technologically savvy and was instrumental in outfitting various computer classrooms with HyFlex equipment, which has contributed to flexibility in the ELI's course offerings. As an upper-level ELI writing instructor, Rosemary is committed to ensuring that students are prepared for their college coursework. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and I personally appreciate her keen Aussie sense of humor.”

Hard work that is so exhilarating

As a co-director of the CTEI, Miketa has listened closely to the concerns of the College community. She is now in a position to project and dynamically adjust to what teaching will look like post-pandemic.

“I am very happy to be back on campus, but I am worried that if we stop using technology, we will fall behind,” said Miketa. “So, I am still trying to find that perfect balance to continue relationships across the physical and virtual environments in my classes and in my role as a CTEI co-director.”

Alongside fellow HFC faculty members Alison Buchanan, Dr. Ruth Haller, and Scott Still, Miketa organized the “Thinking Outside the Bot: Optimizing A.I. Good While Minimizing the Bad” symposium on Artificial Intelligence in September. More than 100 higher education professionals from HFC and the University of Michigan-Dearborn attended this symposium to discuss the impact AI will have on higher education.

“The successful attendance of the AI symposium with the Instructional Technology Committee (ITC) and the Committee for the Assessment of Student Learning (CASL) is a classic example of the ongoing demands for the CTEI to present interesting offerings to help my colleagues. Collaborating with my colleagues across schools is hard work but it is so exhilarating!” said Miketa.

Still enjoyed collaborating with Miketa on the “Thinking Outside the Bot” symposium.

“Although I first made Rosemary's acquaintance quite a while ago, I have only recently enjoyed the pleasure of getting to know her well after partnering with her in running CTEI just last year,” he said. “She has quickly become one of my best friends on campus, and I could not imagine doing this job with anyone other than her. Rosemary has a wonderfully sunny personality and possesses a tremendously unique blend of intelligence, wit, charm, and optimism with just enough skepticism – born of her many years of experience in education – thrown in to keep her supremely real and grounded. In short, she is a dream to work with.”

HFC is her home away from home

For Miketa, the best part of her job is helping non-native English speakers achieve their goals to become proficient in English, so they can begin taking college credit classes in their programs. It is a “real success story” when they graduate from the ELI and bridge into their college credit classes at HFC.

“Nothing is a hard challenge when you love teaching, but the use of AI and other language models has certainly kept me on my toes!” she said. “While using AI has unlimited possibilities, we need to be several steps ahead of our students to make sure they are using it correctly. The rapid release of AI technology did not give us much time to educate them on how to use it ethically without running the risk of plagiarism [and other ethical issues].”

Miketa continued: “Working at this College will probably take me all the way to retirement. I could not think of a more fitting place to finish my full-time teaching career. This is an institution that cares about our students and our community. With limited resources, this College is incredibly resilient and adaptive, and staying open during the pandemic was an incredible experience. It is the camaraderie of my colleagues and the success stories of my students that make HFC my home away from home!”