LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

August 7, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni spotlight: Tiffany Van Pelt

This alumni post focuses on the international adventures of Tiffany Van Pelt, who graduated from LTS in 2015 and was one of the first students to post on our LTS social media. Here is an update of what she has been doing since then.

Tiffany with soursop

What have you been doing since you graduated from LTS?

Since I graduated I have been living and working in Libreville, Gabon in central Sub-Saharan Africa. I first came here for a 6-month internship with the Gabon-Oregon Center, then returned to work in various language schools over the last two years. I teach general English courses, English for Specific Purposes, and TOEFL preparation courses to adults and teens, and I have provided some professional development training to local English teachers enrolled at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Libreville. I also do French to English translation work.

What has been most meaningful for you about living in Gabon?

For me this answer has two aspects, the professional and the personal. Professionally, the most meaningful thing for me has been being able to work with my students over the long term and watch them improve. It’s so fulfilling to see students going on to use their English skills in their professional lives outside the classroom. 

ESC meeting July 2018

 Personally, the most meaningful thing about living here has been the ability to rebuild my fluency in French to the point where I can clearly express myself and form deeper friendships in my community. I have a BA in French from the UO, but spent about a decade without speaking it on a regular basis. It’s a dream come true to be able to live in a francophone country and regain those language skills, and I believe it helps me remain empathetic and encouraging towards my students as they work to reach their goals in English.

I hear you have an exciting new adventure coming up – could you tell us about it?

Yes! I recently accepted a position as the 2019 English Language Fellow for Madagascar. I will be leaving Libreville in January to begin work there with the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Antananarivo. I will be working with local teachers to train on implementation of a new secondary school curriculum, as well as visiting teachers around the country to provide professional development seminars. In addition to this, I’m hoping to be able to provide some extra ESP instruction to local groups as opportunities arise.

What do you hope to learn as an ELF?

I am hoping to learn how to navigate working with local governments and institutions a way that is productive and beneficial for everyone involved.  I’m also looking forward to learning from and brainstorming with the local teachers. I am excited to get their perspectives and ideas towards the implementation of pedagogical innovations in environments that may have a substantial lack of resources. 

Thanksgiving in Gabon

Now that you’ve been teaching for awhile, what do you think has been the most valuable aspect of your time in LTS?

There is very little access to English books, save for those few that are imported, in Gabon. It’s very difficult and expensive to receive shipments of goods from abroad. The curriculum and materials development experiences I had in the LTS program have been invaluable in mitigating this issue and helping me develop my personal library of teaching materials. 

Do you have any advice for current or future LTS students?

I have three pieces of advice for LTS students: first, take as many opportunities as you can to get in the classroom and practice! Second, start building your materials libraries now, (particularly if you plan to work abroad), as part of your smaller projects for classes or as part of your final project. These resources will come in handy later. Finally, take the time to cultivate and maintain friendships with the LTS community. Teaching English isn’t for everyone – much less living abroad! The friends that you make during the program will understand your passion for this profession and will be a huge source of support and community both now and in the future.

 

July 30, 2018
by zachp
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MA Project Spotlights: Yumiko Omata and Zach Patrick-Riley

Yumiko exploring the University of Washington campus before presenting at the Third Northwest Conference on Japanese Pedagogy.

This summer term we are highlighting the final M.A. projects of the soon to be graduating LTS cohort on the blog. For this week’s post, we are pleased to feature Yumiko Omata and Zach Patrick-Riley.

Hi Yumiko! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is to develop an interactive Japanese course for intermediate-level students in a US university in order to foster learner autonomy and intercultural competence. The highlight of the course is telecollaborative language learning between university students in the US and Japan.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I wanted to provide students contextualized learning opportunities. Telecollaboration has great potential to allow students collaborate in a virtual space and engage in interactions with native speakers regardless of geographical constraints.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

I am excited about integrating flipped learning into a blended language learning environment (face-to-face classroom + virtual classroom) using multimodal technologies. Thank you for inspiring me, Jeff!

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

  1. Enjoying nature – Hiking and camping
  2. Back to the studio — Taking ceramic classes would be delightful.

 

Zach enjoying the view on top of Spencer’s Butte in Eugene.

Hi Zach! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is a teaching portfolio focused on improving Brazilian English language learners’ phonological competence in preparation for the Cambridge FCE Speaking Exam (and beyond). The activities I have created help students better produce and interpret English prosody, which has been shown to affect perceptions of intelligibility and meaning.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I’ve always loved teaching English pronunciation, probably due to my background in singing and acting. One of my biggest takeaways from the LTS program has been the importance of developing learners’ pragmatic competence in conjunction with any skill. In doing research, I discovered English language learners often have a difficult time interpreting and producing prosodic features such as intonation and pitch variation, which can cause negative perceptions/communicative issues. I saw the opportunity to connect this phonological training to the FCE speaking exam, a high-stakes proficiency test in Brazil and around the world. Quality exam preparation materials already exist, so my goal has been to consider dynamic approaches in designing the materials I offer.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

I think the coolest thing about my project is how it empowers learners to improve their phonological competence more autonomously and feel more confident in their own style of communicating.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

I just want to make the most out of my final month living here in Eugene. I will really miss the friends I have made, so my main priority is to treasure the remaining moments together (for now at least). Besides that, I want to continue exploring Oregon’s beautiful landscapes.

July 21, 2018
by LTSblog
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Keli Yerian in South Africa

LTS faculty often travel internationally as part of their work, since language teaching and learning is often very connected to international interactions. This week’s blog feature’s LTS Director Keli Yerian’s unusually far-reaching travel this past week in early July – to the southern tip of Africa in Capetown.

A sculpture of Mandela made of beads

Why were you visiting Capetown?

My research interests are in language and gesture, particularly in how language teachers learn to use their bodies as an integral part of language teaching when the learning context is face-to-face. There is an association called the International Society for Gesture Studies that holds a conference every two years, and this year it was held in South Africa.

Marion and Keli

Did you present at the conference?

This time I presented with my colleague from France, Marion Tellier, which whom I am co-authoring some comparative  research studies with data from our program in LTS, and the MA teacher education program she directs in France. We are noticing some similar patterns of gesture development in both programs, as well as some contrasts that may be related to differing educational and cultural contexts. We are both very interested in how typical co-speech gesture becomes more stylized and conventionalized in specific ways when used in pedagogical situations for depicting content and for serving pragmatic purposes in interaction. Unfortunately we forgot to ask someone to take a photo of us presenting, so I can’t show one here!

Sitting at the top of Lion’s Head – what a climb!

Did you do anything else in Capetown?

For most of the conference, we were always in the same conference hotel. Breakfasts and lunches were all provided there. Unfortunately, exploring around the city after dark was not safe in the heart of the city, so we only went out to dinner in groups to nearby places. The legacy of apartheid was very apparent all around us, and safety issues were just one aspect of this. It was only about 25 years ago that explicit discrimination was ended in South Africa (people of color were denied equal rights in most imaginable ways), and one generation is not enough to change the effects of racism and unequal access to resources and opportunities. We were lucky to meet a few South Africans who talked to us quite frankly about this legacy, which we appreciated.

This is what it looked like climbing up Lion’s Head

vigilant birds of paradise

We did spend the last days combining work with fun trips. Some of us hiked to the top of Lion’s Head, which involved literally climbing up ladders built into the cliffs and pulling yourself up chains, and we visited an animal reserve where we saw lions, cheetahs, giraffes, and elephants. We also went to the very end of the cape – the tip of the continent of Africa – that was impressive! Finally, we visited the famous botanical gardens. The birds of paradise flowers looked like a flock of cranes peering out of the bushes.

It was the middle of winter there, so the weather was cool. Luckily the country had recently had some good rain; there was a water crisis before we arrived that was better by the time we were there, but we still took 30 second showers and didn’t let faucets run. It made me really appreciate the delicious water here in Eugene.

Did I mention the penguins? Yes, penguins in Africa.

I doubt I’ll ever return there, but if any of you get the chance, I recommend it!

July 13, 2018
by zachp
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MA Project Spotlights: Logan Matz and Ngan Vu

This summer term we are highlighting the final M.A. projects of the soon to be graduating LTS cohort members. This week we are pleased to feature Logan Matz and Ngan Vu.

Logan Matz (left) discussing his project idea with LTS faculty Robert Elliot.

Hi Logan! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is a teaching portfolio designed to improve pragmatic competence for international graduate students studying in the US. International students have to meet a certain language proficiency level, but there’s no corresponding assessment for pragmatics in widespread use yet. Grad students have more responsibilities than undergrads, and so they deserve a correspondingly larger amount of help with adjustment to US academic life.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I’ve always been interested in how people use language, and so pragmatics was a natural fit. Several friends of mine have had experiences where they felt less-than compared to native speakers of English in an academic setting, and I don’t think anyone should have to deal with language getting in the way of expression of knowledge. If I can help people show their smarts, and not feel limited by their language skills, then I’ll consider that a success.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

So far, I’ve been trying to put a really big focus on student-created examples for all of my activities. I think that with all the extra work and responsibilities that grad students have to do, on top of the challenge of doing graduate work in your second language, the barrier to entry for getting into the nitty gritty during my activities should be as low as possible. Additionally, the international students in this year’s LTS cohort that I’ve talked to all say that these sorts of activities would be really useful for them. If that’s not a ringing endorsement from the students who would actually benefit from a project like this, I don’t know what is!

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

Try not to die of heat stroke. I’m a frail little Washingtonian. I’d love to summit South Sister before I leave, also!

Ngan presenting her MA Project idea at the graduate student poster session.

Hi Ngan! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is a teaching portfolio focusing on using extensive reading as source texts to support writing fluency.

How did you become interested in this topic?

My interest comes from my personal experiences as an international student studying overseas. I struggled considerably in an English composition class when I first came to the United States and tried hard to figure out how to adapt to the writing conventions in another language. Therefore, I would like to find a way to make writing less intimidating for ESL/EFL learners and let them know that they all have the capability to be a good writer in their own way.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

The coolest/most interesting part… I don’t have a specific answer for this question. I just feel that I am currently working with many variables, experimenting with new concepts and trying to put those into a concrete portfolio. How my project looks like at the end is still a mystery for me at this moment but I hope it is beneficial.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

I would like to hike more and spend more time enjoying the beauty of Eugene with friends in the summer. Time flies.

June 30, 2018
by zachp
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MA Project Spotlights: Alexis Busso and Lee Huddleston

This summer term we are highlighting the final M.A. projects of the soon to be graduating LTS cohort members. This week we are pleased to feature Alexis Busso and Lee Huddleston.

Alexis presenting her initial course design at the LTS poster session.

Hi Alexis! What is your M.A. project about?

My M.A. project is a course design about employing metacognitive strategies in a writing course. The proposed course design is an intensive writing class where writing genres are supplemented by global issues topics. The focus of the project is for students to engage in academic writing while learning about different issues both on a local and international level.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I became interested in this topic for a variety of reasons. In the lesson planning class that we took in the Fall, I wrote a research paper about metacognitive strategies and that is when I was first introduced to the study of metacognition. Furthermore, my undergraduate study was in International Studies and this field has had a profound influence in my worldview. My M.A. project is a combination of my interests and passion.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

The most interesting part of my project is that I think it is the only project or one of the few which delves into other fields of study beyond education, foreign language learning, second language acquisition, etc. Moreover, although other students are focused on writing skill, mine is the only one that uses international topics as themes/subjects.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

Yes! Floating down the Willamette river is a must and endless hikes. I also have plans to go blueberry and strawberry picking and spending lots of time outdoors.

Lee presenting his initial project design at the LTS poster session

Hi Lee! What is your M.A. project about?

My M.A project is a teaching portfolio around the use of local legends as content in English language classrooms in a Micronesian high school context. This teaching portfolio will be designed so that the materials can be adopted or adapted to fit similar contexts. Using legends as content will provide students in isolated contexts with motivating materials that they can then connect to their own experiences, and use such texts to build their academic skills in areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The activities and lesson plans in the portfolio would focus on areas of  language, culture, and experiential learning to use the materials to their fullest.

How did you become interested in this topic?

As I previously mentioned in this blog, I served in the Peace Corps as an English teacher in Micronesia for over 2 years. During my time in Micronesia, I became very interested in the local legends and stories of the islands. I also observed the challenges in education that the islanders face, and I drew the conclusion that using local legends rather than American English Language Arts textbooks would be beneficial to students in terms of utilizing their interests and prior knowledge to help them engage with English at a higher and more creative level.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

I would say that the most interesting part of my project is the fact that it provides a bridge for learners by connecting their culture with English; giving value to their culture rather than presenting English as an identity that they must adopt in order to be speakers of the language. In the Micronesian target context, dependence on the United States is an issue that cannot be ignored, and changing pedagogy to be more empowering to students is an important first step.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

I want to take a more balanced approach to this term. Making room in my schedule to hike, exercise, and relax will all be essential as I finish this program. Maybe I’m a bit ambitious, but going to more music venues, and eating out at a few places I’ve been wanting to try are some other bucket list items. I am from Eugene, so my bucket list for my hometown is rather small at this point.

June 15, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Kai Liu

Kai Liu graduated from LTS in 2014 with an MA project titled Using Gamification in Chinese Teaching: A Gamified University Chinese Course for Advanced Students in the US.  She very quickly started working as a Chinese Instructor in an innovative program in one of the more beautiful places in the world… Hawai’i!  She recently stopped by in Eugene on her way home from a conference to say hello to her professors and friends. Read more about her path since LTS below.

Kai with some of her students

What is your position now?

I am the instructor of the Chinese Language Flagship Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. I develop materials and teach Flagship courses (advanced Chinese courses). I also teach beginning to intermediate-level Chinese courses at the East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL) Department at UH.

Have you been involved in any special projects and/or conferences?

I am lucky to have been involved in the Green Ideas Simulation Project  spearheaded by the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center (Tech Center). This project aims to prepare Flagship students for their internship during the Flagship Capstone Year abroad. I helped pilot this simulation project in one of my Flagship courses at UH. More specifically, I developed instructional materials on how to write resumes and cover letters in Chinese and how to prepare for job interviews in Chinese. I also created rubrics for various tasks in this project. In addition, I shared my instructional materials and pilot experience with the Tech Center and other Flagship programs. Now several Chinese Flagship Programs participate in this project each year. This project is expected to be piloted in more languages.

Kai knows how to enjoy teaching

Apart from the simulation project, I am also involved in revamping the beginning and intermediate Chinese curricula at UH. My colleagues and I are integrating blended learning and flipped classroom into these courses by creating more communicative activities, online instructional videos, and individualized learning materials.

Is there anything from your time in LTS that you still think about now?

Yes! The Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) courses are extremely useful! When I first started working at UH, I attended an online teaching orientation for faculty and I felt like I already knew how to use most of the technological tools mentioned in the orientation.

I also think about Professor Holland’s Second Language Teaching Practice class. I remember how excited both LTS students and AEI students were in a communicative class. To create the excitement I once saw in that class, I have been trying to invite more guests into my classes and provide opportunities for my students to use Chinese in local community events.

I still remember what Dr. Keli Yerian said in her commencement speech to my cohort: It is easy to fall back into traditional teaching approaches than applying what we learned in LTS to our classes. Her words serve as a daily reminder for myself to keep creating more communicative and engaging activities for my students.

How did you learn about LTS?

I first came to UO as an exchange student in the Oregon International Internship Program (OIIP). I learned about this program through Dr. Yerian and an LTS graduate Li-Hsien Yang.

Do you have any advice for current or future LTS students?

Apply what you learned in LTS program to your own classes. Challenge yourself and try new materials and new communicative activities. Do not be content with what you have.

Enjoy each other’s company and learn from each other!  I learned a great deal from other LTS students in and out of the classroom.

Keli and Kai outside Straub Hall in May

May 29, 2018
by LTSblog
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Faculty Spotlight – Robert Elliott in Costa Rica

In April, LTS faculty member and NILI Associate Director Robert Elliott travelled to Costa Rica to partner with the University of Costa Rica (UCR) in San José to offer 2 weeks of workshops for Indigenous language teachers.

Robert (far left, back row) and the workshop participants in San José, Costa Rica

Tell us about your experience. Who did you work with in Costa Rica?

In partnership with Professor Carlos Sánchez Avendaño of the UCR linguistics department, and Kara McBride of World Learning, the workshops were developed for 15 Indigenous language and culture teachers from 7 languages throughout the country of Costa Rica.  The languages – Ngäbere, Buglere, Malecu, Bribri, Cabécar, Boruca, and Térraba – are in various states of endangerment, and the teachers work predominantly with middle-school aged children.

During a session about online teaching resources

How were the workshops structured?

The workshop was divided into two parts and were loosely based on the model of NILI summer institute classes. The first week, the teachers received training in pedagogy in the morning hours while the afternoon was geared towards learning to use technology tools and generating ideas for making greatly needed language learning materials for their classes. The second week was centered around giving time and support for the teachers to build materials to take home to their communities and share new ideas with other teachers. On one of the last days, the group was able to visit Carlos’ “Languages of Costa Rica” university class, and the teachers all got to use some of their new techniques to teach his class a bit of their languages.

Recording the language of a participant for a teaching material

How do you think the workshop is relevant to LTS and future language teachers?

In some ways, we as language teachers are all in the same boat. We are all involved with promoting language, culture and opening people up to new world views. But having LTS faculty actively involved in minority and endangered language situations is fairly unique and adds to our program. First, we do have future teachers in the LTS program who are planning to teach less commonly taught languages and endangered languages and having faculty actively involved in these issues is important for these students. Further, all future language teachers should be aware of the effects of globalization and the extreme loss of smaller languages both in the Pacific Northwest as well as in the world at large. It is likely, for example, if you teach ESL in the US or Latin America, that you will have speakers of indigenous languages in your class and you may not even realize it. For much of the world, a language exists in a system of other languages, and while we have the ability to do much good as language teachers, opening doors to our students that would not otherwise exist, we also need to also be aware of our ability to do great harm, even unintentionally, particularly to smaller and fragile languages. We hope that all of our teachers leave the LTS program with a sensitivity towards these issues.  

What else did you do there?

While the schedule was busy, not everything was all business all the time. In the evenings and weekends the group was able to visit different venues in and around UCR, such as the Insect museum at the university and the National Museum of Pre Columbian Gold in the center of San José.

How about a snack?

The insect museum contained specimens of gigantic tropical bugs, and we were offered some freshly prepared cockroaches and larvae to sample – yum! The Pre-Columbian museum was described as bittersweet by one of the participants: very interesting but also a reminder of the difficult history indigenous people have endured in Costa Rica and the Americas. I was also able to sneak in some seriously needed beach and surfing time at one of the stellar surf spots in the country, and got lost in a tropical rain forest in the mountains one day. This was an invaluable experience, and I look forward to participating in more workshops for indigenous teachers in the future.

 

May 20, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Sean Brennan

It is my pleasure to introduce 2016-18 LTS student Sean Brennan. Sean is one of the many students who have pursued concurrent MA degrees in LTS and East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL)

Hi Sean! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.

Sean at one of his art gallery shows.

I’m a Kentucky native, but my interest in Chinese carried me away from there to spend a good chunk of my twenties studying in China, and eventually here in Oregon. I remember when I was a kid, I was fascinated by the idea that different people had different ways of speaking and writing, and longed to study foreign language. In high school, I was finally able to study my first foreign language which happened to be German. I enjoyed studying German, but it was only once I was able to study Chinese as an undergraduate that I truly fell in love with another language, and I’ve never looked back. Outside of school, art and in particular, painting, has been one of my life-long passions and I’ve been fortunate to have a couple gallery shows since I moved to Eugene.

You are quite the jack of all trades! So how did you end up in the LTS program?

I believe I first heard about it from the instructor for my Chinese linguistics course here at UO.

What has been your focus in the program?

In participating in this program, my aim has been to gain the tools and knowledge to effectively utilize my experiences learning Chinese as a second language to inform my teaching of the language. I believe my project represents a culmination of this effort, as it addresses a specific need of Chinese learners that’s not accounted for in current curriculum—bridging the gap between English reading and Chinese reading—which I recognized as a problem from my own experiences.

Sounds like a great project! And you mentioned you are a GE (graduate employee) for Japanese literature, how’s that experience been?

It’s been going great. While I’m normally a GE for the Chinese department, teaching in the Japanese department is always a refreshing change of pace, and through the works we read, I get to see the cultural and linguistic exchanges between the two countries throughout history.

Sean presenting at the LTS poster session.

Are you excited to start working on your MA project?

Yes, I really feel good about my project. I’ve received some really positive feedback from Chinese department faculty about the idea, and I think it’s possible it may lead to some serious consideration for adding a Chinese extensive reading course to the curriculum.

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Best of luck in the completion of the program!

May 12, 2018
by LTSblog
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LTS presents at 2018 Graduate Research Forum

Every year, the Graduate School showcases research by graduate students at the University of Oregon’s Grad Forum. This past Friday four LTS students presented their projects, alongside other MA and PhD students from various fields. It’s a great chance for LTS grads to get experience presenting their work formally to others outside of the field. All of us who visited the Forum were so impressed by the creative and attractive posters, and the professional presentations that went with them. Go LTS!

Krystal Lyau

 

Yumiko Omata

Yuxin Cheng

Ngan Vu

May 3, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Kunie Kellem

It is pleasure to introduce you to LTS student Kunie Kellem!

Kunei presenting at the LTS poster session.

Hi Kunie! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.

Hi. I’m Kunie! I’m from Osaka, Japan. I like running, working out, playing and watching basketball, and eating delicious food!! I came to Eugene with my husband and son in August 2016. Before I came to Eugene, I taught English at Japanese high schools for 14 years. I loved my job, students, and my coworkers, but I was always struggling with this dilemma between ideals and reality of English classes in Japan. I wanted to change something. I wanted to see my students communicate in English confidently. I wanted to have confidence in my skills and knowledge to support students to realize their goals. That is why I decided to study in the LTS program!!

Kunie with her son and Puddles the Duck.

Well, we sure are glad you made that decision! So how has the LTS experience been for you?

It was a big decision for me to come to U of O to study since I had to leave my work, and my family had to change their life styles dramatically. What I was most worried about was my son; if he could adjust to the life in U.S., if he could get new friends, and if he could improve his English to keep up with his school work. I was not so worried about myself at the start point of my new journey. However, it turned out the first 3 months here were the hardest time in my life. Since it had been for such a long time after I graduated from university, everything was new and different. I was surrounded by young, enthusiastic students who were always actively involved in discussion in class, whereas I, who was not used to discussion style lectures, was always at a loss about what to do. Being an international student made things more difficult.

Kunie with her son at the Grand Canyon.

I still remember for the first few weeks I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning to work on my reading, take notes, review the lecture notes, and prepare for the classes. In addition, as I had expected, my son also had a hard time at his new school because of the cultural and language issues, which made me feel terrible and responsible for taking him all the way here with me. I literally cried a lot for the first few months. However, things started to get better after 3 months. My son started to enjoy his school life and made many friends. (At first, he could not read English, but now he is in the advanced spellers group!!) My husband finally got a job here. I gradually got used to student life here. After that “dark time” passed, I started to enjoy my life here more. I started to hang out with my friends more, go hiking more, go to watch Duck’s games more, which made me realize that Eugene is such a beautiful place surrounded by great nature and great people. I don’t think I could have gone through this far without support from my family, friends and professors at U of O and I am so grateful about it!!

Kunie with LTS friends Aska (2017) and Krystal (2018).

Kunie in her UO duck gear.

Glad to hear you and your family made it through that transition period and grew from it! What are some key things you’ve learned in your time here?

Of course, I have been learning very important principles and pedagogy of language learning and teaching, but at the same time I really appreciate that I get the perspective of how it is like being a student and learning new things again; what students think, what they struggle with, and how they deal with learning. I almost forgot those perspectives, and I am sure this experience will help me to become a better teacher when I go back to my work. Also, I have learned from my professors how to create the comfortable atmosphere to learn, how to support students, and how to assess students’ learning based on objective-based assessment, which is very motivating. I would like to incorporate what I learned here into my teaching!!

And I know you have been teaching Japanese, how has that experience been?

Kunie at a beach in Newport, Oregon.

Yes. I have been working as a Japanese GE at U of O for 6 terms. I really enjoy teaching Japanese and I like when the students show me “aha! moment” expressions when they understand and use the structures well in a communicative practice. One time, at the REC center I bumped into a student whom I taught before, and he gave me a high five and talked to me in Japanese. I felt extremely happy!! I think this is one of the (rare) rewarding moments for language teachers. Teaching Japanese has also given me a great insight about language teaching. Although Japanese and English are two different languages, I am learning a lot about teaching techniques, curriculum designs, assessments, and classroom managements from Japanese instructors and actual lessons. Now I can see Japanese language and its culture from a different perspective, which I am sure will be a great asset of mine when I go back to Japan. I appreciate that I was given this opportunity to teach Japanese here.

Are you excited to have started working on your M.A. project?

Yes! Actually, I have been worried about it for a long time, but once I started writing literature review for MA project, I really enjoy it. Since I am on the two-year program, I could spend more time thinking about my project than many of my cohorts who are on the 15-month program. On my first year, I spent most of my time, energy and effort on just doing well in a class. However, after one year passed, many things I learned from each class started to make sense, and they started to be connected with each other.

Kunie with her son biking around the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now I feel like I am working on puzzles; a small puzzle for literature review and a big puzzle for MA project.  I will keep reading and learning from professors and cohorts to find the best pieces for my puzzle. I am really looking forward to seeing what kind of picture my puzzle will turn out to be.

What a nice connection between the final project and puzzles! Any final thoughts?

I know most of my LTS cohorts live busy stressful days with a lot of school work. I also feel the same way. Although it is very important to be organized and work hard on our project, sometimes it is also important to release our stress by doing/eating what we like.  We are now 4 months away from the end of our journey. I am sure it is going to be busy and hard 4 months, but we are on this together. I hope each of us can see our own beautiful picture on the puzzle at the end of this journey!!

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview and best of luck in your completion of the program!

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