Michael Kozden jokes that he carries “three different bags” around the Webb campus, one for each section of foreign language that he teaches – AP Spanish and Chinese 1 and 2.
A typical day may find the World Language department chair leading a debate session in Spanish or introducing Tai Chi and elements of calligraphy to Chinese language learners.
“We do game activities, debates, individual presentations and collaborative video projects” explained Kozden of his teaching methods. “I try to incorporate my students’ real lives into class.”
In a paper he wrote at the School for International Training, Kozden described learning a second language as “an ongoing process of self-organization that takes place through meaningful repetition, trial and error, and new material. Language learners feel like they are assembling an enormous jigsaw puzzle. At first, the project seems daunting and impossible, but with patience and effort, parts of the puzzle become evident. The self-organization of countless pieces (grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc.) rewards the learner with a continuing sense of accomplishment.”
He is fluent in three languages besides English including German, Spanish and Chinese; and he also practices Korean and French.
Kozden’s journey to teaching at Webb started in a small town in Pennsylvania – Center Valley – where he grew up. He received his BA and MA degrees from Pennsylvania State University and also holds a Masters in Teaching from the School for International Training. Previous to joining the Webb faculty, he taught ESL at Santa Barbara City College.
He has also lived and taught extensively abroad – in Germany, Korea, the Dominican Republic – and spent a year traveling and studying in China.
In his spare time, he says, he “likes to hike our local mountains and watch soap operas in different languages.”
Kozden lives on campus with his wife Inez Yeung. He enjoys the schools’ close proximity to Los Angeles, which he describes as one of “the best places in the world for languages.”
And he enjoys his time with students; he has coached tennis, basketball, golf and baseball; and he serves as the lead class advisor to the WSC junior class.
“Webb is a great place with tight connections,” said Kozden.