English Language Learning

John Hepler

Director, Office of English Language Learning; Instructor, English for Academic Purposes

Dr. John C. Hepler started at Washington College in August 2014. He has been interested in language acquisition since childhood and has experienced first-hand the challenges of living and studying in another culture.

Originally from the Anthracite coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Hepler’s family emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1748. Despite the passage of time, he was raised in a bilingual household (English and German) with extended family who still only spoke German. This linguistic experience was different from that of many of his public school classmates, whose parents or grandparents had emigrated from Eastern Europe. This linguistically and culturally diverse background shaped his views on language learning and cross-cultural communication.

While in high school, he studied Spanish, Russian, and French. Despite the urging of his art teachers, he decided to study French at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. During his junior year, he studied at the Université catholique de l’ouest in Angers, France. While at Millersville, he also studied Spanish, Italian, Latin, and Ancient Greek.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French, he worked for a travel firm for several years, guiding tours in Europe and North America. Through good fortune and perseverance, he was hired by Ford Motor Company in the early 1990’s to work in information technology and marketing. Later, while working for Fiat S.p.A. designing and deploying internal after sales supply-chain and service applications, he traveled the world providing training and installation support.

In 2006, based on his experience working for multicultural international corporations such as Ford and Fiat, he decided to pursue a career in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). In May 2010, he earned a Master of Arts degree in TESOL from West Chester University.

With the knowledge that a terminal degree was required to teach at most four-year institutions, and a burgeoning interest in preparing future faculty, that autumn he enrolled in doctoral studies in English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), in the Composition and TESOL program.

While at IUP, he taught multimodal composition and American culture courses in the university’s intensive English language facility, the American Language Institute. As a teaching associate for the university’s English Department, he also taught first-year composition and sophomore research writing courses for both mainstream and non-native English speaking students.

Having successfully completed his PhD in 2017, Dr. Hepler’s dissertation focused on the influence computer technology had on the professional identity development of teaching associates in a university English department.

In addition to managing the Office of English Language Learning, Dr. Hepler also serves as the advisor for the student organization Animal Impact, which works with the Kent County Humane Society.

Dr. Hepler lives in Rock Hall, Maryland, with his three cats, Harmony, Jack, and Elroy.

Campus Involvement

Advisor, Animal Impact

Member, International Education Committee

Member, Academic Resources Group

Mentor, TEAM Mentoring Program