ArticlesMarch 2020

IALLT’s Scenic Route Mentorship Program

Molly Godwin-Jones (University of Kansas),
Margherita Berti (University of Arizona)

Shannon Donnally Spasova (Michigan State University)


People who are interested in language learning and technology have a variety of directions in which they can take their careers. They can become tech-savvy teachers and faculty members. They can become language center staff, school or university support staff, or instructional designers. They can also work in companies or non-profits that have an interest in the language learning and technology field. This range of choices is exhilarating, but can be daunting for people in the early stages of their career, especially since traditional graduate programs do not always directly feed into these trajectories and frequently lack people who can serve as mentors to assist those entering alternative career paths – the scenic route!

IALLT is now looking to fill this gap for graduate student IALLT members with the inaugural cohort of the IALLT Scenic Route Mentorship Program. Both mentees and mentors can earn an IALLT non-credit professional development certificate upon successfully completing the mentorship program.

The program was developed by Margherita Berti (graduate student representative), Molly Godwin-Jones (graduate student representative), and Shannon Donnally Spasova (IALLT secretary), with support from the IALLT Board and advice from Judi Franz.

The inaugural Scenic Route Mentorship Program will run from May 2020-May 2021. A cohort of graduate students will be matched with mentors who will meet with them online six times over the year to help them navigate some of the twists and turns that they may be facing as they make decisions about their future career. Mentees will also meet several times with their cohort of other graduate students who are facing similar problems and decisions.


Picture 1 - Welcome to the Scenic Route! No matter if you are a Hitchhiker, Roadrunner, Wanderer, Wayfaring Stranger, Guru, Seasoned Traveler, or Sherpa, we hope you will enjoy the Scenic Route! The Scenic Route will take place from May 2020-May 2021. Mentees will be assigned a mentor, and mentees and mentors are required to meet 6 times over the year to receive the final certificate. Meetings should be 45-60 minutes and can be conducted via Zoom, Skype, Hangouts, or any other means convenient to participants. Mentors and mentees should choose at least 6 stops from the Scenic Route map (in any order). Each stop includes some discussion prompts that can help to guide the conversation. When you are on the Scenic Route Map, click on the arrow (like the one that you see at the bottom of this page) to get to the prompts. At the end of each meeting, each member will fill out a short form to document their meeting. Mentees are also required to attend at least 2 “Village Meetups” with other mentees. To earn the certificate, mentees will complete 8 meetings and mentors will complete 6. To earn an “honors” certificate, mentees should also publish something in the FLTMAG. Certificates will be presented at the IALLT conference in New Orleans - June 16-19, 2021.
Picture 1 – Detailed instructions for the Scenic Route Mentorship Program.

Mentors can classify themselves as “gurus”, “seasoned travelers”, or “sherpas”, and they help “hitchhikers”, “roadrunners”, “wanders”, or “wayfaring strangers” along the way according to the Scenic Route Map.

Picture 2 - The Scenic Route Map with the following stops: The Friendly Forest, What Do You Do Watering Hole, Life Lake, Heard that Hill, Networking Yurt, Cave of Clocks, Prairie of Proposals, Project Plateau, Mystery Bend in the Road, Presentation Peak, Summit of Success, Can-Do Canyon, Ride the River, Panning for Gold
Picture 2 – The Scenic Route Map

Each stop along the map has discussion prompts on a relevant topic that can help mentors and mentees start a constructive conversation.

Picture 3 - What Do You Do Watering Hole (job-specific questions) What is/was your position? How long have you been working there or how long did you work there? What is/was a typical day like for you? A typical week? What qualifications did you need to secure your position? What was the interview process like? Do you remember any sample questions? Do you have any suggestions about how to best choose between the industry and academia? How did you make this choice? Is there anything you wish you had learned in grad school to better prepare you for certain tasks in your position? Do/did you oversee student workers or other staff? If so, do you have any advice on managing employees? Are/were you responsible for organizing events? If so, could you tell me about one that was particularly successful?
Picture 3 – Example of prompts at a Scenic Route Map stop

Mentors and mentees fill out a short survey after each meeting to document what they discussed and their progress through the Scenic Route.

The objective of the IALLT “Scenic Route” Mentoring Program is to pair IALLT graduate students with experts in the field of language learning/teaching and technology. This program is offered online, from May 2020 through May 2021. At the end of the program, mentors and mentees will have the opportunity to meet at the IALLT 2021 Conference, June 16-19, in New Orleans.
Picture 4 – the Scenic Route documentation of mentor/mentee meeting

Mentees will also meet with each other several times during the program to discuss topics like publishing in the FLTMAG, and will share what they learned from their mentors’ meetings. Mentees or mentors can also receive an “honors” certificate if they publish a piece in the FLTMAG by the end of the program. A webinar about how to publish in the FLTMAG is planned for August 2020.

Another important goal of the program will be that mentees can get support and feedback from mentors as they draft a presentation proposal for the IALLT 2021 conference in New Orleans. Hopefully mentors and mentees will be able to meet face-to-face for the first time at the conference, continue to network with each other, and help to kick off a new cohort for the Scenic Route.

Join us on the Scenic Route!

The finishing touches are being put on this program and we will be officially announcing it and looking for participants very shortly. If you are interested in joining us in the Scenic Route Mentorship Program, whether as a mentee or a mentor, please get in touch with Shannon Donnally Spasova at


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