LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

November 25, 2019
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight with Dustin! (& ORTESOL 2019)

Dustin Robson is a current LTS student from right here in Eugene, Oregon. He is currently in the 2nd term of the program, and is here today to tell us a bit about himself, how he’s doing in LTS so far, and what his plans for the future are!

Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? Where have you traveled?

While originally from Long Beach, California, I’ve actually lived in Eugene for most of my life. My family moved up to Oregon when I was pretty young, so I like to consider myself a real Oregonian! I haven’t traveled as extensively as some of our cohort, but I’ve been all over the West and Midwest parts of the US (including parts of Canada and Mexico), as well as Japan and Vietnam.

Dustin (in red, standing) with friends and current/past LTS students Reagan Yu, Ngan Vu, Alina Chen, and former FLTA Amna Hassan

What made you want to join the LTS program?

 Having lived in Eugene before, I also attended the University of Oregon for my undergraduate years. I majored in Japanese, and I also earned the SLAT (Second Language Acquisition and Teaching) certificate for English. Many of those courses overlap with the LTS program, so I had the pleasure of taking courses taught by LTS faculty, and working alongside the 2017-18 cohort. I made friends with several members of that cohort, and also FLTAs (Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants) from that year, and their praise for the program and its faculty were a major factor for my decision to apply to it as well.

Between graduation and beginning the LTS program, what were you up to?

After graduating from the UO, I left to go to teach English in Vietnam, in a small town called Vũng Tàu.

Vũng Tàu

It’s a coastal city about 70 miles east of Ho Chi Minh City, known for its tourism and beaches. I chose Vung Tau to teach in as opposed to Ho Chi Minh City, because I liked the idea of working in a smaller town, and one without a large surplus of foreigners and expats teaching English. I felt that I would have more opportunities for leading my own classes, and really getting to stretch all my teaching muscles, and I also felt I would be filling a great need for the school I worked at.

The initial couple of months were very difficult getting adjusted to life in a new country, and there were many things that were quite scary at first (motorbikes and the traffic!), but I eventually was able to get into a groove with both living and teaching there. From all the chaos of those early days there, I was really able to learn a lot about myself as a teacher and as a person. Being able to work with learners as young as five years old, all the way up to 18 years old (and a few adults as well) was a terrific chance for me to develop so many skills as a teacher, and also learn lots about what I don’t know, and need to improve. Overall, the experience was absolutely essential, and a very formative journey for me.

One of Dustin’s classes

You’re in the second term of the LTS program — how has it been going so far? What have been some of the highlights up until this point?

Everything has been going well! Having lived in Eugene for years, there isn’t really any living adjustments for me, but for those in our cohort (and the FLTAs) who are new to Eugene, it has been great getting to show them around town, and see what it’s like for someone to experience life in Oregon for the first time! Recently some of us were able to get together and carve some pumpkins for Halloween, which was a wonderful (and messy) experience to share with all who were able to attend.

Aside from life in Eugene, Oregon, one of my absolute highlights from this past Summer was helping out with the Fulbright Orientation that was hosted by the UO this past August. From August 18-22 63 Fulbrighters came to Eugene to prepare for a year abroad in the US. The event had a little of everything, from panel discussions on life as an international student in the US, to games and recreation, and even a bit of microteaching! Yamada Language Center’s Jeff Magoto (and his wonderful team) helped coordinate the event, along with the assistance of many LTS faculty, and current/past members of LTS. It was a great privilege to be able to help, even in a small way, with this wonderful event, that brought people from all parts of the world together in Eugene. Many friendships were made that week, before 59 of those Fulbrighters left to other schools across the country. Four Fulbrighters stayed at UO for the year, and are in classes with many of the current LTS cohort right now. You can learn more about them here: https://babel.uoregon.edu/meet-uos-fltas

63 Fulbrighters from around the world gathered at the UO this Summer

In addition to helping with the Fulbright event, I have also been working at Yamada Language Center helping in any way that I can. I have had the pleasure of helping Director Jeff Magoto present ANVILL at two conferences so far, COFLT and recently, ORTESOL. I’m also helping run the Yamada Language Center Language Exchange program, which serves as a way for students to find others to meet up with, and share each others languages! More information on that can be found here: https://babel.uoregon.edu/language-programs/language-exchange

You mentioned ORTESOL. Could you tell us more about what that is? 

Sure! ORTESOL is a conference that was held on November 15th and 16th up in Clackamas, Oregon. As the name implies, ORTESOL is the Oregon chapter of TESOL, and the conferences have many wonderful people presenting on topics in the world of English language teaching. At this most recent conference, there were presenters from past LTS alum, teachers at AEI, and LTS faculty. I was up there helping Jeff Magoto give a presentation on interactive video (housed within ANVILL, an education platform created by an LTS alum — Norman Kerr), and its many uses within a language classroom.

Jeff Magoto, LTS faculty member and YLC Director, at ORTESOL

Any ideas on what your MA final project may look like?

 It’s still really early, we only just turned in our practice proposals! However, working with Jeff on ANVILL over the past several months, I am interested in further pursuing the idea of transforming traditional language classrooms through the use of technology. It’s still the very early stages, but that’s currently the thread that I’m pulling on the most! Ask me again in two months — my answer may have changed!

Lastly, any plans for the holidays?

 Lots of much needed rest, and time spent with friends and family. I wasn’t around for the holidays last year, so I’m looking forward to making up for lost time this year!

July 22, 2019
by krobin14
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Student Spotlight Shiyun (Jasmine) Li

Jasmine Li is a current LTS student who is graduating this Summer 2019. She has focused on English materials and teaching in the program, and is completing her project on a topic she loves: stimulating English learners’ interest in authentic literature  through the the careful integration of both modified and authentic texts.

Jasmine with some poster materials in her curriculum class winter term

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Shiyun Li, but everyone just calls me Jasmine. I’m from China, but I’ve spent most of my undergraduate and graduate years in the US. I have a BA in English Literature and I went back to China and taught English for a year before coming to Eugene to continue my studies. I’m always enthusiastic about short stories and detective novels. And traveling by myself is what I like to do the most in my spare time outside the school. I love to meet with different people along the way and listen to their stories, which to me is even more exciting than travel itself. The counties that are still on my travel list are: Japan, Italy and Jamaica. I hope I can visit these countries in the near future and have more exciting adventures along the way.

What are you working on in your MA project, and how are you feeling about it now that you are halfway done?

I’m currently working on the topic of use extensive reading approach in EFL context and integrating modified and authentic materials to teach reading for adult and young adult English learners. I feel like everything I’ve been creating for the project is finally coming together now. It is never easy when you are writing, but at the same time you are looking forward to write more about it. And I really like how my perspective has changed during the process of writing and how much I’ve learned so far by working on my project.

Sunrise at Miami Beach

What was most interesting for you in your English and Chinese language teaching internship experiences this past term?

The most memorable part about my internships is the teaching I did in AEIS (Academic English for International Students) because it was the first time I taught a cross-cultural language class at the university level. In the program I’ve learned how to plan a lesson and create materials according to learners’ needs and abilities, so it was a great opportunity for me to put what I’ve learned in practice. It is really rewarding to see students are doing a good job and learning new things from what I’ve prepared for them.

What are you hoping to do after LTS?

After what I’ve learned in the LTS, I’m hoping that I could be given an opportunity to continue my education and doing research in the language teaching field. I’d like to pursue a PhD in Second Language Acquisition and put my focus on bilingualism and second language learning process. But still, I wish to always be a good language teacher in my students’ perspective.

June 17, 2019
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight Tera Reid-Olds

Tera is a current student who is enrolled in LTS as a concurrent degree with her Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature. Her MA project focuses on the integration of postcolonial and diasporic literature in university ESL courses.

Tera in Valence, France where she taught English for a year

What inspired you to do an MA in LTS?

I decided to do an MA in LTS after two years as an Italian GE in the Department of Romance Languages. I’m completing my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and I’ve loved being able to teach both language and literature classes at UO. I applied to the LTS program because I wanted to develop a more comprehensive knowledge of SLA and best practices in the language teaching field. LTS has also empowered me to better understand and articulate my own philosophy for teaching in a foreign language. And I’ve enjoyed taking LT classes while teaching French this year, because it has encouraged me to be a more reflective teacher every day.

You have learned and taught more than one second language – what have you enjoyed most about these experiences?

I feel very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to experience different language teaching contexts and approaches as both a learner and an instructor. Last year, I taught English at a high school in France and the teachers I worked with requested that I not tell the students I speak French so that they would be forced to communicate with me in English. It was a rare opportunity for me to teach my native language in a context where all the students shared an L1 that was my L2. As a French and Italian instructor at UO, I’ve primarily taught students who share my L1 and are acquiring an L2. In these contexts, I can share my own L2 experiences with my students (i.e. my very clear memory of being introduced to the French subjunctive for the first time!) and brainstorm with them strategies for maximizing exposure to these languages while living in the U.S. In the summer of 2015, I studied Arabic at the Middlebury Language School. This was my first ever experience in an immersion program that required each participant to sign a pledge not to use any language other than the target language. The pledge is reinforced by the fact that you are surrounded by the language all day every day. My Arabic improved dramatically in this program, allowing me to better appreciate and advocate for the Romance Language department’s policy of speaking only in the target language even from the first day. I think that an immersion approach is particularly important in a FL context because the amount of input the students receive in those contexts is limited. All that is to say: I’ve most enjoyed these experiences for how different they are. The different contexts and students I’ve encountered have taught me to be a more adaptive and receptive language learner and teacher, which I hope can benefit my future students (wherever I end up!).

The Language Pledge at Middlebury Language School, where Tera learned Arabic

How do your two graduate degrees interrelate, from your perspective?

I believe that Comparative Literature and LTS have great potential for collaboration. In Comparative Literature, one of our departmental requirements is to be able to teach across at least three national and linguistic traditions. It has been one of the rewarding experiences of my academic career to share COLT seminars with scholars who specialize in different languages, historical contexts, media and texts. We all bring different strengths to the program. In LTS, I have had similar experiences learning from teachers of less commonly taught languages and visiting Fulbright scholars. I feel that both programs are flexible and inclusive, with a curriculum and faculty that encourage students to chart their own path through the program. The result of this department support from LTS and COLT is that both my MA project and my dissertation reflect who I am and what I have to offer as a scholar and a teacher.

Are there some related themes across the work you are doing across the two programs?

Both my MA project and my dissertation engage with points of contact between languages and the highly contextualized strategies of multilingual speakers. The literary texts I look at in my dissertation are explicitly concerned with linguistic imperialism and the way that language can function as a form of resistance or as a tool of oppression. Research for my MA project has introduced me to Critical Applied Linguistics and Critical CALL, fields which have opened new avenues for dissertation research. Exploring the intersections between literary criticism and applied linguistics has strengthened both projects, and I see myself continuing to draw on both degrees in my trajectory as a teacher and a scholar. LTS and COLT are a great match!

Thank you, Tera, and good luck with your last months in school this summer!

May 8, 2019
by krobin14
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Alumni Spotlight- Lee and Zach

Zach Patrick-Riley and Lee Huddleston both earned their MA degrees in LTS in 2018, and are now spending some time as teacher-trainers at Yessenov University in Kazakhstan. Below is the story of their lives so far in this new area and new job!

Zach and Lee

What are you both up to in Kazakhstan?

[Lee and Zach]: We chose to answer this question together because almost all of our professional and personal days are spent together. We are both currently Teacher Trainers here at Yessenov University, in Aktau, Kazakhstan. However, the term teacher trainer only begins to describe the variety of hats we wear on a daily basis. The Yessenov Language Center is a pilot project that started fall of 2018, so we’ve been involved in every aspect of integrating English language learning into the university curriculum. Speaking of, one of our primary tasks has been to design curriculum for A2-B2 classes. We have quite a bit of flexibility in designing the curriculum, yet at the same time, we must be conscious of all relevant stakeholders needs (i.e. a very diverse student body, teachers, administrators, our department, and more). With the help of the World Languages Department and English Philology Department, we also have designed and teach a continuing professional development course (CPD) for the Top Managers of the University that ultimately prepares them with 21st century skills and to succeed in taking the IELTS.

One of the most fun aspects of our job is being able to continue teaching in the classroom! We lead interactive teacher training workshops twice a week for two departments in which we focus on English language teaching methodological approaches. Our topics in these workshops range from Flipped Learning to the use of the L1 in the language classroom. Additionally, we also have an English Speaking Club once a week in which we lead students in fun activities while practicing functional English. Just last week we lead a great club which had the students running around the school on a scavenger hunt and creating hashtags for a few of their pictures.

Zach guest teaching the CPD course

To build capacity at the university among the teachers of two departments, we conduct weekly observations of teachers in both university and CPD courses. During these observations we offer suggestions for continuing their growth as professionals, as well as alternative ways of conducting the lessons. The teachers are generally very open to feedback and appreciate the suggestions and advice that we offer.

Finally, we serve as cultural ambassadors every day at the university. Usually we promote in an informal sense through everyday interactions with students and staff at the university. While other times we fill this role in a more formal way by speaking with media outlets and visiting government officials such as the mayor, governor, embassy officials, ministers, and even the acting president of Kazakhstan.

How did you find this position at the university?

[Lee]: My journey to Kazakhstan began when I first met Yelena Feoktistova in my LTS courses. Yelena was a Fulbright Scholar at the American English Institute at the UO in 2017-18. She observed, participated in, and presented at a variety of our classes over the year-long program. She was impressed by the strong focus our program had on language teaching methods and approaches as well as how to apply those in a real context. When she first told us about teaching in Kazakhstan, and her purpose of bringing new teaching methods to her country and university, that I might one day end up in Kazakhstan was the furthest thing from my mind. But many conversations later, I learned that Yelena would be the head of a new English language center project in Aktau and she was looking for teacher trainers to help her jump-start the program. The idea of doing teacher training and curriculum design work straight out of graduate school to me seemed like too good of an idea to pass up, I wanted to really hit the ground running in terms of applying what I learned in the LTS program. I was certainly not wrong, everyday teaching here has been full of the rewards and challenges that make teaching such a dynamic field.

Lee, Yelena, and Zach walking by the Caspian Sea

[Zach]: I first met Yelena at a CASLS meeting halfway through the LTS program. As she was a visiting Fulbright scholar, she occasionally attended CASLS curriculum meetings to learn about the innovative projects CASLS does. To be honest, when Yelena said she was from Kazakhstan, I had to check my mental world map to know exactly where that was. Needless to say, the world traveler in me was intrigued from the get-go about a region I had never been to before. As the months went on, I got to know Yelena better and learned more about the Yessenov Language Center project. My excitement about a rich cultural and professional opportunity grew and grew. I also loved the flexibility around the contract start time. Because of it, after graduating last fall I was able to go to a family reunion in the USA and backpack around Nepal and India for a couple months before starting the job. Having that time to recover after the program helped a lot in feeling ready to work hard again.

 What is a special thing or place you have discovered there?

[Lee and Zach]: THE CASPIAN SEA!!! Our Pacific Northwest Roots absolutely love it, especially as a way to relax on the weekends. We also both love the proximity of nearby countries. While here, Lee has visited Turkey, Azerbaijan, and will soon visit Georgia. Zach has visited Georgia twice (yes, he loves it there!).

Sunset photo of the Caspian Sea

[Lee]: I’ll share two things I have discovered, one is more significant, and one is more of a simple pleasure. I’ll begin with the simple one.  During my first couple of months in Kazakhstan, I experienced a sudden coffee drought. Tea is far more popular in Kazakhstan than coffee, so coffee is just less accessible here, what coffee I did find here was always instant coffee, which can still be great, but it could not fully satisfy my Oregon coffee tastes. So, what I discovered was, a particular store that sold great coffee, and I also learned how to recognize coffee as it was sold/packaged here. To my embarrassment, I quickly realized that lots of real coffee had been sitting under my nose the whole time. This leads me to my second discovery, which is that you can get around and function with a surprisingly low amount of language. I have been amazed about how quickly I have been able to read most signs in Cyrillic now, and how much I can get done while speaking little Russian. I admit that this is probably due in large part to technology like maps/google translate, but it is still fascinating to realize how much top-down understanding helps when you speak very little of the language and don’t read the script. As someone who studies language this has been a fascinating experience in a linguistic and of course a personal and professional sense.

[Zach]: One of the most special things about Kazakhstan is its diverse population and spoken languages. We interact with people originally from Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Korea, and even more nationalities on any given day. Consequently, we hear a variety of languages being spoken in the hallways. As language lovers, this is very cool! It’s also special to learn additional languages ourselves. I have focused more on learning Russian as I plan on working digitally from Russia and Georgia this fall. But learning at least some phrases in Kazakh has been a sure way to bring a smile to anyone’s face, as the language is a source of national pride, particularly in the Mangystau region.

What has been most useful from LTS while teaching there?

Lee showing his enthusiasm for teaching during a speaking club

[Lee]: I mean, honestly everything that we learned in LTS has been so useful in this context. In this job we have really been practicing each part of language teaching developed in our courses from curriculum design, to creating assessments, to teaching in our own classroom, to training others in the use of a variety of teaching approaches. Resources that we created and/or encountered during our various classes, internships and graduate employee positions have also proven invaluable as we seek to give quality materials to our teachers. Though I have not directly implemented my masters project here in this context, I have used resources from that project, and approaches that I developed in the project to help create the curriculum and design workshops for the teachers.

[Zach]: I completely agree with Lee. The breadth of skills you learn while in the LTS program have all proven extremely useful. We have used knowledge gained from every class we took and our respective Graduate Positions (Lee, AEI, and me, CASLS). Lee and I often even chat about how cool it would be to take part in those priceless LTS discussions with the experiences we’ve had here.

Any advice for current LTS students?

[Lee]: I would advise current LTS students to always be thinking about making resources/projects that are highly adaptable or appropriate for a variety of contexts, these can be resources that you can easily implement in work outside of the program. Also, though I think I said something similar in a previous blog I think it bears repeating, really do as much as you can while you are in LTS, take advantage of all the development opportunities that you can, really give your all for every project and every assignment because all of that can be directly applied in your future experiences.

[Zach]: A year ago we were in your shoes really getting into the final Master’s project, so we know how tough and challenging it is. Stay strong and believe in yourselves. You are even more capable than you believe, and you should be very proud of how much you’ve already learned and accomplished. If you ever have more specific questions, please feel free to get in touch with us directly. #LTSforlife

Yessenov University

April 26, 2019
by krobin14
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Alumni Spotlight- Ngan

Ngan Vu graduated from LTS in 2018. Her MA project focused on how to use extensive reading activities to inspire and develop ESL students’ reading and writing skills.

Ngan and Yumiko in Japan (both from the 2018 cohort)

Hi Ngan! You are a recent graduate of LTS. Tell us about what you are up to now since you graduated!

Hi everyone, after graduation, I spent some time with my family in Vietnam and then moved to Japan for my job. Currently, I am teaching English at Kanazawa Institute of Technology in Japan and want to take advantage of this opportunity to learn another language from scratch again.

School Name

What is it like for you to live in Japan vs. in Eugene or Vietnam?

The biggest difference is my knowledge of the language used in each country and my ability to navigate through daily life. This is the first time for me to live in a country where I have little preparation for the language. Although the first few months in Japan were challenging, I am fortunate to be helped by my kind-hearted people whether they know English or not. Apart from that, I am grateful for what is coming to my life now. And, without doubt, Eugene or Vietnam as well as Kanazawa has its own unique place in my heart.

Cherry Blossoms by Ngan’s Apartment

Is there any way that you are applying your MA project work to your current teaching, directly or indirectly?

I regularly remind myself of ‘differentiated instruction’ which is the driving force for my MA project. I have been trying to apply the idea of different stations in class. However, the idea is modified to adapt to my students. For example, instead of having them move to different stations, the stations move. My MA project’s advisor Janine recommended this idea to me when we were in the process of developing materials. And, that idea works for my class so far. In addition, my project incorporates infographics as a support for reading-writing process and as a low-stakes assessment; now, I am introducing this method to my students this term.

In the Classroom

What is an example of something that you learned as a teacher that you would not have predicted before or during your graduate program?

I would say how to communicate with students about the effect of Google Translate on their learning progress and make my oral and written instruction as clear and transparent as possible. And, I am still learning.

Do you have any advice for current or future LTS students? Remember, they are just starting the Spring term, with the MA project looming ahead…

Take a break. Small breaks such as walking to a park, going to an ice-cream or bakery shop or whatever activities that help you refresh your mind. Trust that you can do it because your cohort members and LTS instructors are always there with you. And, listen to your inner call. 🙂

From the Library in Winter

Staff spotlight Eden Cronk and Kayla Robinson

April 9, 2019 by krobin14 | 0 comments

This month’s LTS blog post features Eden Cronk and Kayla Robinson. Eden is our new Department Manager since July 7, 2018. Kayla is the new Undergraduate/Graduate Coordinator as of February 11, 2019. You can find them in the main Linguistics office Monday-Friday.

We are so very happy to be here.

Eden and Kayla, welcome to the Department of Linguistics this year! Can you tell us a little about yourselves? 

[Eden Cronk]  I was born in southern Oregon and have lived here most of my life.  After graduating from the UO with a Bachelor’s in Sociology, I was an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in southern New Mexico for two years.  In my late teens and early twenties I did some traveling, including a year in France and seven months Central America.  I have an 11 year old daughter who is my everything.  I enjoy reading, working out, and spending time with friends.

[Kayla Robinson]   I’m originally from southern Illinois. In 2015, I finished a B.S. in Communication Disorders and Sciences and moved to Eugene. “The west is the best.” When I’m not in the office I like to be in nature, try new restaurants, take film photos, and watch movies. I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan. I have a cat named Rorschach and I adore all 17 pounds of him.

“This boat is heavier than it looks!” -Eden

Both of you work a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ magic for students and faculty. Can you tell us an example of one or two of those things students may not be aware of?

[Eden Cronk]   I handle all of the contracts and personnel paperwork for faculty.  In other words, I make sure your professors get paid!  I organize the schedule with the main UO scheduling office.  This takes much more time than it should, if you ask me.  😉

[Kayla Robinson]   Students might not know there are several things I keep an eye on—registration, Graduate School procedure, etc. For example, if a student applies to defend, I will check how long their committee has been in place, how many dissertation credits they’ve earned, and if they are currently registered for dissertation. I can also help them with getting a room reserved for the defense. I do this so if anything isn’t in order, we can get it fixed before it leaves the department. My goal is to save our students from experiencing inconveniences later on.

 

What do you enjoy most about being in the Department of Linguistics and the UO?

[Eden Cronk]  I like working with the faculty and students the most.  This is a great group of people and I feel fortunate to be in this position.

[Kayla Robinson]  It is a blessing to be surrounded by people from all over the world. I also really enjoy hearing people speak a variety of languages in the office. (Sometimes Spike sings in French in the copy room!) For both our department and UO in general, the knowledge and innovation create a tangible excitement. I dig that atmosphere, and I am proud to be part of the campus community.

 

Is there anything that is, shall we say, NOT the reason you come to work every day?

[Eden Cronk]  Being at a desk 8 hours a day gets a little old.

[Kayla Robinson]  I’m not in love with sitting at my desk all day, especially when it is nice out.

“Have someone in your life who holds you like this.” -Kayla

Finally, if you had to pick a favorite word, in English or any language, what would it be?

[Eden Cronk]   I actually have several…shenanigans, superfluous, snafu, brouhaha, and kumquat.

[Kayla Robinson]   Saudade (Portuguese): Saudade is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. (Wikipedia)

This word is special to me because it describes my feeling toward leaving home for the west. I love the people and the life I lived in Illinois very much, but I know if I were to return it would never be the same. In that way I feel I miss something that no longer exists. It’s beautifully sad, and I don’t know of anything like it in English! It is similar to the Welsh word hiraeth.

Eden at Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area on the Oregon Coast

“Tide pools are my favorite part of the coast.” -Kayla

March 8, 2019
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight Zuxuan Ni and Yang Li

This month’s LTS blog post features Zuxuan Ni and Yang Li, who are both interested in teaching Mandarin to older children in the U.S. In LTS they have been taking some classes specifically focused on Chinese linguistics and teaching, as well as assisting middle and high school learners of Chinese at Oak Hill School in Eugene.

Yang and Zuxuan in front of Oak Hill School where they are assisting learners in Chinese. The snow is rare in Eugene!

Hello Xuan and Yang! Tell us a little about yourselves.

(Zuxuan) My name is Zuxuan Ni, sometimes my friends call me Xuan. I am from Beijing, China. I got married in Seattle and moved with my husband to Eugene three years ago. My interests include second language teaching and psychology and education. I like traveling. When I was studying for my first MA in psychology and education in England, I visited several European countries among which Denmark was my favorite. Now I am enjoying my time studying language teaching here in Oregon. I love this beautiful state very much and hope to become a Chinese language teacher after graduation.

(Yang) My name is Yang Li, and I’m from Hunan, China, where foods are known for being spicy. It’s no surprise that I love spicy foods. I got married in my hometown two years ago and came to the US with my husband, who is studying at Oregon State University right now. I’m really happy to study in LTS program and met new friends, this is a valuable treasure for my life.

What experiences in teaching did you each have before starting the program?

(Zuxuan) I worked as an L2 English teacher at an international high school in Beijing for half a year. During this period, I planned and delivered English lessons to seven classes with 20 students in each class. It was a great experience in which I engaged in creating a stimulating learning environment and varying my students’ learning activities in class by providing more interactive tasks to practice.

(Yang) I taught English grammar and TOEFL and IELTS reading before starting LTS. After graduating in 2013, I started working in an International high school for two years. During that time, I was responsible for teaching English grammar and tutoring students with their TOEFL reading. Then, in order to have more chances to gain teaching experience and work near my hometown, I got another job to teach TOEFL and IELTS reading in a private Language training center. Normally, the class size was pretty small, with three or four students per class. I enjoy teaching students and being one of their supporters. However, I desperately felt that I myself needed to improve before I could really help my students to a larger extent. So that’s why I’m here.

Yang Li visiting San Francisco

What attracted you to a program like LTS?

(Zuxuan and Yang) As we delved deeper into our English teaching work in China, we encountered some practical problems of developing our course designs and fostering students’ autonomous learning, which made us realize that we lacked some professional training in language teaching. This is why we are here in the LTS program. The courses offered by LTS are what we are expecting to learn. For example, in Second Language Teaching Planning, we learned how to analyze and examine the major methods used by L2 teachers to teach target languages as well as the principles and concepts associated with the L2 teaching. Such course perfectly met our learning needs and helped us build a firm foundation for a further career. We are very grateful for it and looking forward to the following terms!

We’re glad to hear that! What are you doing now in the program?

(Zuxuan and Yang) We are learning to develop language course designs for our target learners in the program. It is very helpful for us to learn to analyze our specific teaching contexts and set appropriate learning outcomes so that we can make our future language teaching successful. In addition we are working as Chinese language partners to teach speaking and listening at Oak Hill School (a K-12 private school in Eugene). We meet with two intermediate-level students aged 16 once a week to provide them with more language input and encourage them to talk with us about some cultural topics. We are happy to see that the students become more and more confident in speaking Chinese and they start accurately
using higher-level constructions when talking to us. It is always a pleasant time with the students.

What are you thinking of doing for your final MA capstone projects?

(Zuxuan) For my final MA project, I plan to design a task-based Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) course for the purpose of reinforcing middle and high school students’ oral skills by using authentic materials. I want to develop a course which is suitable for young students and offers helpful scaffolding for those lower-proficiency learners in the K-12 context. Since Chinese pronunciation, especially the tones, is generally considered to be a critical challenge for non-tonal language speakers, my project will focus on engaging students in meaningful tasks which involve a variety of tonal practice. Besides, I will also utilize a usage-based constructionist approach to offer form-function mapping to
students to learn distinctive Chinese structures. Hopefully, my final MA project can be useful for my future language teaching after graduation.

Zuxuan in San Antonio before joining LTS

(Yang) After graduation, I want to have more experience studying or working in the US. Therefore, for my final project, I’m thinking of teaching Chinese in a CFL context and to build learner agency by utilizing task-based language teaching principle in classrooms. And I’m seeking to see the effectiveness of the task-based approach in motivating students and in optimizing their learning experience. As a foreign language, there are not many opportunities for learners to practice Chinese, and mostly the learning behaviors are triggered by external incentives. So, I believe there is an urgent need to find how to encourage students to take initiative in learning Chinese. I hope my final project will be beneficial for my future teaching career.

Finally, this program is intensive, and we are now more than halfway through it! Are you looking forward to the last spring and summer terms?

(Zuxuan and Yang) Yes, definitely. We are definitely looking forward to the spring and summer terms. Because we may start guest teaching in different elementary schools in Spring and get more familiar with classrooms in the US. We are so excited about having these opportunities and experience. Also, we’ll start to write our final project and research for the topic we are interested in. Furthermore, we are really looking forward to the courses of these two terms, like the assessment and pronunciation course, which would benefit us a lot for our final project and future teaching career.

 

January 25, 2019
by LTSblog
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Trish Pashby on Teacher Training Trip to Pakistan

Workshop for English Department Faculty UE Lahore

LTS faculty member Trish Pashby spent the winter holidays conducting English teacher training workshops in Lahore, Pakistan.

Tell us about your trip to Pakistan. What exactly were you doing there?

I received a grant from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) http://www.pakistanstudies-aips.org/ to present a series of workshops for faculty at a university in Pakistan over a period of three weeks. They sent me to University of Education (UE) http://ue.edu.pk/ in Lahore to work with the English Department at their Township campus, which turned out to be fantastic. The administrators and faculty there were incredibly kind and really fun. They gave me an office, made sure I had everything I needed, and fed me delicious lunches every day. I met with some faculty one-on-one to discuss their professional development ideas and classroom practices—which were all very interesting and impressive. The workshops were attended by faculty (and some students) from Township campus as well as instructors from other UE campuses in Lahore and as far away as Vehari and Multan.  Sessions included “Professional Development for Very Busy Instructors” “Multimodal Learning” and “Creating Balanced Lessons” and were designed to be as interactive as possible. The participants were lively, experienced, and full of great ideas. I loved the way they were willing to engage in all kinds of activities and admired their dedication to their students and academic careers. I learned a tremendous amount from all of them.

Workshop Participants University of Education Lahore

While I was there, the university hosted their International Conference on English Literature, Linguistics and Teaching (ICELLT 2018), which featured speakers from all over Pakistan and the world. It was a very exciting three days of amazing sessions and plenty of socializing. I was happy to give a keynote talk (“Revisiting Motivation in Language Learning”), attend dozens of presentations, and get to know attendees during the tea breaks, lunches and the lovely “Culture Night” event, where a number of UE English teachers stepped up to the microphone to sing beautiful songs from their provinces.

Surprise Christmas Party at UE

Out to lunch with UE faculty (Ayesha, Dr. Humaira, Farzana)

AIPS also sent me on a quick trip to Islamabad to participate in the International Student Conference and Expo at a session titled “Student-Centric Learning.” What a treat to meet this group of students from universities all over Pakistan and hear about their classroom experiences and preferences.

You were in Pakistan before, right?

Yes, I traveled to Pakistan three times before as part of a U.S. State Department partnership grant University of Oregon had with Karakoram International University up in Gilgit, all really wonderful adventures. But this was my first trip to Lahore, which was very different from the cities of Islamabad and Gilgit. Lahore was bursting at the seams with energy: The streets were packed with cars, motorcycles, donkeys (pulling carts), pedestrians. The city has a great vibe, friendly people, and fabulous food.

Badshahi Mosque Lahore Pakistan

Walled City Lahore Pakistan

 

 Were you able to do much sightseeing on this trip?

Some! I spent a magical Sunday wandering through the Walled City (eating a traditional brunch at the fantastic Faqir Museum hosted by the owner, searching music shops for small instrument to use in my workshops), visited the incredible Badshahi Mosque, and then strolled around the historic Lahore Fort at sunset. I also took a lovely walk in Shalimar Gardens one afternoon and went to a really fun Rahat Fateh Ali Khan concert. Otherwise, I enjoyed exploring the little neighborhood where I stayed, with its parks and shops. I feel I’ve just started to get to know Lahore and will definitely have to return.

 

 

January 9, 2019
by LTSblog
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Alumni spotlight – Kelsey

Kelsey Hertal graduated from LTS in 2015. Her project was designed with the intention of heading to Latin America, which she did but not for her expected reasons as you will see below!  The project was titled, Integrating American English Pragmatic Instruction in Tourism Training Programs in Latin America: A Materials Portfolio.

Kelsey (middle) with one of her classes in Columbia

Hi Kelsey! What have you been doing since you graduated from LTS?

My story is about how to stay patient when at first you don’t succeed, and always remember that something good might be just around the corner!

When I graduated from LTS, it took about 4 months for me to find a job. I looked everywhere (and I mean EVERYWHERE) to find a job and no language school, international school, university, or community college was ready to hire me. I remember it was incredibly discouraging and I felt that all my hard work in LTS was useless!

In November of 2015, Keli emailed me about an immediate job opening at INTO Oregon State University. They urgently needed extra teachers because of their high enrollment numbers that term. I applied and immediately received a call asking for an interview. The following day I drove to Corvallis, interviewed, got hired on the spot, and was scheduled to start teaching the next morning. The only word I have to describe that morning was chaos, as they gave me my teaching material 15 minutes before the class started. However, with my adrenaline running off the charts and my heart beating a thousand times per minute, it was one of the most amazing teaching moments of my life. LTS prepared me 110% for jumping into a teaching environment with no plan and coming up with material on the spot.

My contract at Oregon State was supposed to last 6 weeks, but at the end of the term, the students wrote a letter of recommendation to the INTO OSU administration team begging for them to keep me on the teaching staff. To my surprise, OSU offered me a contract for the next term because I “impressed” them so much with my rapport with the students. I worked as an adjunct at OSU for a year and a half, and it was more exciting and fun than any teaching job I could have imagined.

At the end of my first year, I happened to meet a Colombian recruiter at an INTO OSU end-of-year work event. To make a long story short, we fell in love (yes, I know that took you off guard!), I quit my job at OSU, and I moved to Colombia in April of 2017. As soon as I arrived in Colombia, I had an interview at Marymount School Medellin and I was hired immediately as a High School English teacher.

I started the job in the middle of the school year, and once again, had very little preparation for what I would be teaching. I truly feel like LTS prepared me to hop right in to a teaching job that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for.

We got married this past July and we’re loving the newlywed life. I’m still working at the same school and I absolutely love my job as a High School English teacher. Although I never expected to teach high school, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I am so thankful for my students, the great teaching environment, and the classes I get to teach.

What a story! What have you enjoyed most (and least) about teaching so far?

My favorite thing about teaching is being with the students. I love seeing the “lightbulbs” turn on in the students’ minds and I love seeing learning actually take place.

I have the freedom to create all my materials, lesson plans, and activities for all my classes. And not only that, each class is based on a novel. So far, I have created units on the following books: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury), Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare), What I Saw and How I Lied (Judy Blundell), My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult), and To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee). I can definitely say that teaching English through literature is the most fun thing in the entire world.

The thing I like least about teaching is dealing with unmotivated students who don’t want to learn, and as expected, I don’t love grading! 🙂

What has been something you learned while in the LTS program that you apply to your teaching now?

I learned so much in LTS that I apply to my teaching now.

  • The course on Culture, Language, and Literature (LT 528) helped me tremendously as, in my context, I teach English through literature on a daily basis in all my classes. While I was taking this class in LTS, I thought it would be really cool to teach English through literature but never thought it would be a reality for me. You never know where you’ll end up and what will actually come in handy in the future!
  • Learning how to truly write well. I can say I really learned how to write academically through completing the Master’s project. In my classes now, I teach my students academic writing, how to research, how to cite with APA format, etc. Without having put so much effort and attention to detail in my Master’s Project, I wouldn’t have been so equipped to teach this. Again, I didn’t necessarily expect that it would come in handy, but it did!
  • Like I mentioned before, through LTS, I learned how to jump into a teaching situation and figure out what to do on the spot. My teaching practicum (LT 537 Talking with Ducks) helped me with this greatly. It certainly helped me have confidence in front of a class and how to be creative without time to think.
  • Time management! As I’m sure with any Master’s program, you learn time management. However, if you don’t have time management skills, you will not survive as a teacher.

What are your hopes or plans for the future?

To be honest, I am incredibly happy where I am right now. I would like to stay here for at least two or three more years. I actually have fell in love with teaching high school English and literature, and I think maybe someday I would like to teach literature in an American high school. So far, life keeps throwing me surprises and each opportunity keeps getting better.

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

To any current and future LTS students, my advice would be:

  • You may think you have an idea of what you want to teach, but life may throw you something different, and it will probably end up being better than what you could have imagined for yourself.
  • Don’t give up if you can’t find a job right after finishing your degree. Be open to any job opportunity that life may give you and when the right opportunity comes, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Be truly grateful in the workplace. I have experienced working with many grumpy and unhappy teachers. Although teaching is a hard job, if you want to survive, you have to stay positive, be thankful for the job you have, and remember the difference you are making in your students’ lives.
  • Try your best in each class in the LTS program. The topics in each class will come in handy in the future whether you can see it or not.
  • The Master’s project is a life lesson; it gives you valuable skills for life. It teaches you how to be disciplined and how to manage your time. It teaches you how to give your best when you’re exhausted and feel like you can’t keep going. These skills will help you more than you can imagine in your teaching career (and in your personal life).
  • The Master’s project gives you the opportunity to enter into the world of academia and it teaches you how to become a writer and find your voice. Recognize the importance of this and how you will use these skills in your future career.

 

November 25, 2018
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight – Jesus

Jesus with some of his students in Cusco, Peru

Jesus Napancca Herrera is a current LTS student from Peru, now in his 2nd of 5 terms in the LTS Master’s program. Here he tells us a little about his past, present, and future.

Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? Where have you traveled?

I am from Peru and lived in Cusco for many years. I was born in Lima, but since I was learning languages I thought I should move to Cusco, the city of the Incas and one of the largest tourist destinations in South America.

Tell us about your background in teaching and how you got the idea to start a language school.

I started teaching Spanish in 1997 and English in 1998. I was a private Spanish teacher for foreign visitors who were interested in taking intensive courses in Spanish. I was also teaching English to underprivileged kids from Cusco to contribute to my community. In 2000 I created a little cozy school for foreigners as well as for young Cusquenias who could not afford to pay for learning English. In April 2002 I opened Amigos Spanish School. In the same building we had foreigners learning Spanish and local young adults learning English. Both inspired each other and interacted on a daily basis.

The Amigos Language School that Jesus founded in Cusco, Peru

Another view of the Amigos Language School

What is your life like now here in Eugene? Is it very different?

My personal life hasn’t changed much. I am used to being busy every day and I even used to work on Sundays. The difference lies in the dynamic of my tasks. I used to be in charge of my work and have a group of staff working for me. Now I am working for the American English Institute at UO and I feel really fantastic! It is for me a great opportunity to grow as a person. I really appreciate my colleagues at work and my supervisors are amazing. While in Peru, I felt somehow lost and lonely because most of my compatriots thought I was busy for no reason, in a hurry and pathetically organized. Here in Eugene it is normal. So, I feel I am in my element now and don’t feel so lonely anymore. 🙂

You are teaching at the American English Institute as a GE (Graduate Employee teaching assistant) this term. What have you learned from this experience so far?

I have been learning many things, like how to work in a team. I have adjusted myself to following the new rules of this new job in a new country. My colleagues are supportive and always give me a hand at any time. There are great materials for teaching/learning English as well as new methods of teaching languages. Added to this, there is great infrastructure in the classrooms and at our offices. My supervisors and coordinator trust me in my skills as a teacher and allow me to adjust my class as I suggest. I feel privileged and for me, this experience is priceless.

What are some possibilities for your MA project at this point?

Day by day, the idea of my MA project is getting clearer in my mind. After all these months I have learned a lot in my classes in LTS and that helps me to have a better idea of what I would like to pursue in my MA project and my future career. I would like to specialize in LSP (Language for Specific Purposes) and for my future career I would like to work for companies that might need tutors or teachers for LSP.

What do you want to be sure to do during the rest of your year here? Do you have any specific goals or interests?

I would like to connect (which is already happening) the courses with my future career. I would also like to start my own consulting company to empower all kinds of schools that teaches languages.

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