Del Mar native enjoys ‘surreal’ experience in Turkey through Fulbright program

Alex Warburton works one-on-one with one of his college students in Turkey, where he is working as a Fulbright Program scholar. Photo courtesy of Warburton

By Claire Harlin
Staff Writer

Del Mar native Alex Warburton graduated last spring from the University of Chicago and is already teaching college classes — in Turkey.
The Torrey Pines High alumnus, who earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistic anthropology, was awarded last month a Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship that placed him in an English instructorship in the country of his choice. With its livable environment, growing economy and central location on the globe, Turkey was Warburton’s top choice — and he just began teaching there earlier this month.

“I write all my own tests, come up with my own curriculum,” said Warburton in an interview from his temporary home of Kırıkkale, Turkey. “It’s a little surreal having just graduated from college and taking on this much responsibility at the university level.”

Warburton got his start teaching English through a program he volunteered with in Chicago’s Chinatown. He said tutoring Chinese immigrants through the organization greatly impacted him by showing him that learning English presents challenges similar to learning Mandarin (in which Warburton is fluent).

“Being raised in Del Mar, in south side Chicago I sometimes had trouble understanding what people said because it’s a different type of English than I’m accustomed to,” said Warburton.

He said one of his most memorable moments in teaching ESL was when he eased the discomfort of a student from China when she admitted she had a hard time ordering at McDonald’s.

“I explained that it would be no different than if I were to go to China, because there the inlanders and those in the southern, rural areas have a totally different dialect,” said Warburton. “She lit up when we made the connection because her husband was making fun of her for having an English degree but not being able to order at McDonald’s.”

Warburton also said his experience learning Mandarin, a complex language, makes it even easier to connect with English learners.
“I understand when my students mess up, and it’s OK to mess up,” said Warburton. “Look at all the mistakes I make when I speak Chinese.”

Since Warburton has arrived in Turkey, he said the trip has been exciting and packed full of things like a press conference with the Turkish Ambassador and lectures on Turkish politics.

Warburton said he’s not sure if he will pursue teaching in the future, but for the time being, he’s enjoying the worldly experience and being able to apply his very intense, theory-based education in a practical way.

“This is probably a fantasy and unrealistic, but I would like to be a better teacher than I’ve had,” said Warburton. “I want to be able to explain to learners why things are the way they are.”

Warburton is one of more than 1,600 scholars who traveled abroad this year under the Fulbright program, which is sponsored by the U.S. government to increase mutual understanding between people in the U.S. and those of other countries. The primary source of funding for the program is an annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Related posts:

  1. Carmel Valley native named Rhodes Scholar
  2. Carmel Creek students explain the art of turkey making
  3. Rowe finding success with Spanish language program
  4. Rancho Santa Fe Students explain the art of turkey making
  5. First graders serve up their top turkey recipes

Short URL:

Posted by Staff on Sep 27, 2011. Filed under Del Mar, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6





  • Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club Ladies Golf Tournament to raise funds for breast cancer research
    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the women of the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club have organized an annual tournament for 13 years raising funds for organizations whose focus is the treatment and/or cure and prevention of breast cancer. Deana Ingalls and a capable and creative committee are organizing another Breast Cancer Benefit Tournament on Oct. 1 […]
  • Couple pleads guilty in fraud case involving Rancho Santa Fe broker
    A real estate investor and his wife pleaded guilty Sept. 30 to conspiring with a Rancho Santa Fe broker and others to defraud mortgage lenders and impede the Internal Revenue Service. Grant McCollough, 38, and his 36-year-old wife, Marisa, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and defrauding the United States. Both face up to five years in prison […]
  • Village Church Installation of Rev. Dr. Neal Presa
    An installation of the Rev. Dr. Neal Presa, one of the Associate Pastors of the Village Church, was held Sept. 28 […]