From Talk Show Host to ALI Instructor: Bringing Diverse Experience to the Classroom

Elizabeth Osmun in ClassroomElizabeth Osmun went to Boston University to study education and dance – after graduating she went on to become “the disco queen of New Jersey” and a competitive ballroom dancer. “That is when John Travolta came out with Saturday Night Fever, so yes, that was my claim to fame at the time,” she says.

After realizing that a dance career leads to feet that throb and hurt daily, Osmun decided to go into law and studied to become a paralegal. “My father was so proud that he bought me a briefcase,” she adds. The next 15 years she worked in New York City for some of the top law firms, but the entire time she continued to embrace her love for the arts by taking dance, singing, and acting classes.

Osmun became more involved with show business while continuing to work as a paralegal – she was a singer at dinner theatres, landed a few acting jobs (she was in a few episodes of Another World, the soap opera), worked with Morgan Freeman, appeared in a few commercials, and began producing her own television show. “I was tired of waiting for the phone to ring for acting jobs, so I started interviewing neighbors. I used my own camcorder, and that decision changed my life.”

The moment that changed her life happened when she was with her friend having dinner at the Marriot hotel. “The mayor of Saltzburg, Austria was seated next toElizabeth Osmun Recording CD us and he was pushing tourism. He was accompanied by their champion skiers and publicist. My friend told them, ‘Oh you have to go on Elizabeth’s talk show.’ To my surprise they agreed. At this time I didn’t actually have a show,” she says. The interview was set up and took place in Osmun’s third floor walkup apartment, where her cats watched and her friend became the camera man. “They all showed up in three-piece dress suits thinking that this was the biggest talk show in the world. They were mortified when they walked in. The interview went well, but when they all got up to leave they were all covered in cat fur,” she adds.

After that interview, Osmun started to get sponsors to continue her talk show. Word spread and many others agreed to be guests. She interviewed individuals like Broadway stars, Grammy-award winners, comics, and even a moon astronaut. This is when she moved her show from her apartment to Tavern on the Green, the famous Central Park restaurant located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The show lasted 11 years. “I didn’t become Oprah Winfrey, and I became burnt out, so I decided to move to California,” Osmun says.

In San Diego, she began substitute teaching and earned her credential as an elementary teacher and master’s degree in education at SDSU; however, her life took a turn when she became an insurance salesperson for five years. Osmun says, “I realized I’m not a great salesperson, and I wanted to teach college-level students, so I enrolled in an amTEFL certificate program (now known as the TESL/TEFL certificate program) at San Diego State University.”

Since earning her certificate with an impressive 100 percent on the final test, Van Hillier, the director of the program, offered her an opportunity to facilitate classes at the American Language Institute (ALI). “I started out in the Intensive English for Communication program for the first term then I went over to the English for Academic Purposes program.” That was four years ago. Today, she is a full-time instructor where she says, “I not only teach students the English language, but also teach them how to study and prepare them to attend an American university. I also learn so much from my students and working here is a very positive environment. To me, I am always growing. Staff and instructors here are always trying to improve to make it better for students.  The teachers are top-notch. There is so much cultural exchange and learning here, one  can’t help but enjoy the environment and absorb the experience.”