LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

January 27, 2020
by krobin14
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Student Spotlight- Cathy Lee

Cathy Lee is a current LTS student in her third term. Although she’s lived in the US for 15 years, Cathy joined us in Eugene last summer for her LTS adventure! Cathy’s story is unique, and her presence and experience enriches our current cohort in many ways.

In the Alps of Switzerland

 

Hi Cathy! Can you please introduce yourself to the readers, and tell us a bit about you?

Hello! My name is Cathy Lee.  I am slightly hesitant in calculating how many years have passed since I left the academia that I had studied in South Korea. It has been around 30 years ago! I moved to the US about 15 years ago. After moving and all my family affairs were settled stably, I greatly missed my teaching career (mathematics and English) at the learning center that I owned in Korea.

With my students at KSSNJ in NJ

Seek and you shall find!  This phrase has been a direction indicator since I found the power of the saying in my old enough age. So, roughly six years ago, I ended up teaching the Korean language at the Korean School of Southern New Jersey. At the school, I experienced so much fun with my young students and gained the invaluable trigger to professionally teach the Korean language.

I moved to Eugene, Oregon, and joined the LTS cohort last summer, leaving my soul mate (husband) at home in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Boarding the LTS boat was my incredible choice and chance. I have been enjoying the sailing of my journey and am excited to see the port that I shall reach.

 

What made you decide to apply to the LTS MA program?

King Sejong who created Korean alphabet

The most motivating element that made me apply to the LTS MA program is the eagerness to learn how to productively teach the Korean language. When I looked through the LTS MA program at UO, the program description of providing teaching knowledge and training in the current trends immediately drew my attention, and my heart started to beat with joy.  Most of all, my director Keli’s kind direction and consideration allowed me to leave for Eugene.

 

You are unique from many of the students in the LTS cohort this year, in that you are returning to school after many years! What has this experience been like for you? What has surprised you the most about your time in the program so far?

When my children did not need my physical support as a mom, I raised a question to myself; what do you want to do with your life? I found my eagerness to study more about how to authentically teach the Korean language. Taking some college or community college courses near my home in Cherry Hill did not satisfy me. Unconsciously, I wanted to enter the area of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development for my own development. I got to this Zone, my LTS at UO. I have been constructing my practical knowledge with the help of our Program. Each course in the LTS program seems to be prepared specifically for me. I have been thrilled with the new learning in language teaching methods and planning, and also the cultural approach in language. The professors in all these courses are the models of their class materials. These have been all beyond my expectations.

Returning to school was my praiseworthy decision!

 

Since you are new to Eugene, how have you been enjoying it? Have you been able to do anything fun or exciting in the area? Is there anything you really want to see or do that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

On my way to Umpqua Hot Spring in OR

Yes, I have been enjoying living in Eugene. This city has particular characteristics. It has such a refined country mood, so I have been feeling as if I am in the middle of East America and Europe. I felt this especially when I visited a small gallery in an eclectic neighborhood, I captured some degree of flying humanistic freestyles. So many common individuals expressed their own ideas through life-friendly materials and usages. There were invisible orders for respect other individuals among the freedom as well.

I also went to a beer brewery recently, and businesses in Eugene seem to operate peacefully. Everybody with family or friends seems to be comfortable to stay to have some food from a food truck right outside and listen to live music, or play a variety of board or card games.

 

With Winter term well underway, the MA project proposals are due in just a few weeks! Can you tell us a bit about what kind of project you are thinking of doing?

When I was assigned to the MA project, I asked myself exactly what specific area of teaching Korean I wanted to dig into. Without hesitation, I pointed out the word “honorifics.” During my Korean teaching experiences, I noticed that the usage of honorifics is a hidden obstacle for most learners.  Honorifics are weaved with cultural features and flavors. How exciting to untwist the invisible lump of honorifics! This project would go with many types of research and also be somewhat agonizing to get more clear goals. However, I will one day hear my future students’ expression, “Learning honorifics is an interesting and fascinating language learning process!”

 

Outside of LTS classes, have you been able to do any work around campus? Internships or GE positions? Tell us a bit about that

Pumpkin carving party in YLC at UO

Yes, I have been working as a GE with the Korean classes at Oregon State University language teaching since I started my MA program at the UO. Current applied technology in education enables me in Eugene to work for OSU in Corvallis. Via online, working with the students’ Korean language is an exciting and rewarding process. I listen to the students’ recording and send written and if needed, individual recording feedback in Korean. Sometimes, I meet students via Skype. I admire the students’ work and their gradual achievements. Also, I am working as a GE from this winter term in the Linguistic Department at the UO. I strongly realized that studying as a student in the LTS MA program is far beyond studying language teaching. Most of our cohort have gotten their GE positions. It is an absolutely beautiful balance between the theoretical study and practical experiences in an educational ground.

 

When you’re not studying or working hard, what do you like to do for fun? (Either here in Eugene, or back home with your family)

I love to travel to new places if some conditions are available such as money, time, and someone who enjoys a trip with me. I hope to get a long break very soon, and I wish to visit Korea to travel a few cities in Korea with my mother to take pleasure with the local food and culture. I also like to meet friends and enjoy a cup of tea or beer while talking. Often these days, I love to have the simple enjoyment of watching YouTube.  I love to hear people’s life stories through the computer screen because I am very much a people person. Isn’t it ironic?

 

 

 

January 21, 2020
by krobin14
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LTS testimonial from recent graduate Tera. Thank you Tera!

 

LTS Alumni Tera in France

Dear Keli,

I wanted to share a brief anecdote about a job I just applied for. One
of their required questions stated: Explain how you would design and
facilitate a class session in an academic beginning- or
intermediate-level integrated reading and writing ESL class. Explain
what you hope to accomplish in this class session, what specific
activities will support the diverse student population, and how this
activity connects to a larger unit and to the course as a whole. (Please
limit your response to 750 words).

Thanks to all of the work we did in your curriculum class and in the MA
project, this question was very easy to answer. I only had to refer back
to one of my completed lesson plans and translate that into an essay
format.

I just wanted to express my gratitude for the great preparation I
received from LTS to tackle questions like this!

Best,
Tera

January 17, 2020
by krobin14
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Student Spotlight with Reagan (Jing) Yu

Reagan (Jing) Yu is a current LTS student from China. He has been studying in the United States for 7 years, and is in his second term of the MA program. Reagan also works at Yamada Language Center teaching Cantonese.

Having fun in Hong Kong

Hi Reagan! Please tell us all a bit about yourself

Hello! My name is Reagan (Jing) Yu. I am from Guangzhou, China. I’m currently in my 7th year of studying abroad in the U.S. (3 years in Maine, 1 year in New York and 2 years in Oregon). As you can probably tell, I move around a lot, and I enjoy the excitement of seeing unfamiliar landscapes, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. One of the fun facts about me is that, by 20, I have traveled to all Chinese provinces and 30 of the U.S. states.

 

We’re beginning Winter term now, but were you able to do anything fun for holiday break?

Yes! I decided to go back to China for winter break since my cousin was getting married. I was in my hometown Guangzhou for 2 weeks, but also got to backpack to Xi’an, Shanghai and Huizhou.

 

Exploring nature in Maine

What made you decide to apply for the LTS program?

One of my parents is Hakkah and the other is Hokkien, but I grew up in the biggest Cantonese-speaking city in China, where Mandarin is the official language. I have been exposed to many different languages since I was a toddler. I have actively observed how languages are used, acquired and taught when I was growing up. I have always dreamed of becoming a teacher. For languages especially, I have had “weird” ways of approaching them, and I put a lot of thought into how I would put them into rules to help people understand. I think I spent more time imagining myself up on the podium then actually paying attention to the class when I was going to school.

I majored in language education when I was a freshman in New York, but with the realization of my lack of deep, scientific linguistics background, I eventually transferred to UO and majored in Linguistics. Therefore joining LTS was a more than logical decision. LTS is the best fit for me, in which I will be able to apply my “fresh out of the oven” linguistics knowledge to what I want to do: teaching.

Also, who wouldn’t want to stay in Oregon for longer?

 

Having finished the first two terms of the LTS program, how have things been going for you so far?

Things have been going great. I think I have gotten to know most of the cohort very well. We as a group have also established a good network both academically and personally. I believe it makes researching much easier if you can casually drink beers with the people who are working on the same things, because people will express their ideas without holding back. It is true though, even without the beer, we have had a lot of opportunities to exchange our thoughts and brainstorm with each other during the first 2 terms and it has been very helpful.

Other than that, I took a few weeks to get used to the grad school life, where finding a balance is a major necessity. Between school and work; literature and science; Japanese 101 on Netflix and Spanish 101 on Duolingo; junk food and an oversized bag of spinach; water and beer… at last I think I have reached a good balance point at this time and I am ready for more challenges to come.

 

I know that you have been teaching Cantonese at Yamada Language Center, can you tell us about that experience?

Reagan with his Cantonese class at YLC

Yes. The class itself is very fun and engaging (I hope my students agree!). It belongs to the self study language program under the Yamada Language Center that students can take for 1-2 credits per term. This class is designed to be student-centered and focuses on interpersonal communication as well as cultural awareness.

I got involved with Yamada 2 years back when I was simply talking to the director, Jeff Magoto, about the idea of having a Cantonese class. And through countless obstacles we (99% Jeff) made the class happen, and it has been the most popular self-study class ever since.

We have had many students from different backgrounds take the class, and we have formed a great, and welcoming Canto community.

 

Outside of studying hard, and working at YLC, what do you like to do in your free time?

I am a big backpacker and tea drinker. I also enjoy playing the guitar, the keyboard and some other instruments for fun.

Archery and reading literature are also what I would do on a weekly routine. (At least recently)

For the rest of the time, I love to drink Japanese beer and whiskey.

 

MA project proposals are due in February (no pressure!), but have you decided on a topic yet? Anything about it you’d like to share with us?

Yes! I am the only one in LTS (that I know of) this year that is going to conduct an actual study for MA project, so I will have to start recruiting and running participants as soon as winter term starts.

My topic is:“The 2-way influence of absolute pitch & tones and its pedagogical application for adult non-tonal language speakers”

I am aiming to find some correlations between tones in music and tones in Cantonese (or any tonal languages), in order to come up with potentially better pedagogical approaches to the acquisition and teaching of tones of tonal languages.

I will be working in the linguistics lab under Dr. Melissa Baese-Berk’s supervision.

 

With students in Gansu, China

 

Thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you!

January 10, 2020
by krobin14
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Faculty Spotlight- Kris Kyle

This Faculty Spotlight post features Dr. Kris Kyle. We are very excited to welcome him as our newest Linguistics/LTS Faculty. Kris joined our team in Fall 2019.

 

Newest LTS Faculty Dr. Kris Kyle

We are very glad to have you join our faculty! What drew you to the University of Oregon and the Linguistics Department?

Kris on first visit to UO

Thanks! I am very happy to be here. This department is a great place to be for a number of reasons. First, I was really drawn to the functional perspective to language that is taken by all of the faculty members. My own research into second language acquisition and second language assessment falls firmly within the larger functional paradigm (and specifically within usage-based language learning), so I really feel like I fit in theoretically. Second, I really appreciate the diversity of the research interests that the faculty hold – I get to learn something new almost every Friday at the Gloss colloquium talks! Finally, I really appreciate the collegiality of the faculty, students, and staff in the department. The Linguistics Department most certainly is a warm and happy family!

How will you be involved in the LTS program? What do you look forward to contributing to it?

To start, I will be teaching the Research Methods course (Winter 2020) and the Assessment (Spring 2020) course for the LTS program. I will likely also teach courses related to corpus linguistics and second language acquisition in the future. I look forward to helping students design research projects and/or think critically about the ways in which language proficiency is/has been/can be assessed!

Tell us about your experiences teaching in Korea. How did they lead you to the research questions you are asking now?

A recent trip to give a talk at Korea National University of Education in Cheongjui

I started my language teaching career in South Korea in 2006 (and taught there for almost three years). I had previously earned a BA in English and Spanish, and had taught 8th-grade English for one year at a private secondary school in Arkansas. I started out teaching at an after school test-prep school (hakwon) in Seoul, where I taught TOEFL writing and TOEFL speaking courses, primarily to middle-school age children. After doing that for seven months or so, my wife and I decided to leave Seoul and work for a rural school district (in Danyang-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do). In that position, I traveled to a different school each week and primarily taught middle-school conversation and “American culture”. Whereas my first job was extremely structured (and we were expected NOT to deviate from the prescribed lesson plans), my rural job was extremely unstructured. I had to create a curriculum on my own and generate all materials. It was in this position that I truly learned that I had a lot more to learn! After a year in Danyang, my wife and I were offered positions at Yonsei University (Wonju campus). In this position, I taught courses in conversation and also in TOEIC and TOEFL test prep. I found that I really enjoyed teaching university-aged students, which became a catalyst for future education. After returning from South Korea in 2009, I began graduate school (MA from Colorado State in 2011, PhD from Georgia State in 2016) where I continued to teach English for academic purposes (and writing in particular).

Some of my recent and current research explores the validity of standardized second language assessment tools (and in particular assessments of speaking and writing proficiency). The seeds for this research began early in my career as a test prep instructor, particularly as I grappled with how speaking and writing tasks were evaluated. One thing I am really interested in is the characteristics of what makes one sample second language (L2) writing or speaking “better” or seem more proficient than another. There are of course individualized factors that contribute to this, but there also seem to be a number of linguistic predictors as well (this is what I am really interested in).

What is an example of something you are currently working on that may interest L2 professionals?

Kris eating Galbi in the Danyang with friends (2007)

I am currently working on a project (funded by ETS) that explores the linguistic demands of attending a US university. In particular, I am focusing on the degree to which the language used in technology-mediated environments (e.g., Canvas) is substantively different from the language used in “traditional” learning environments. The direct purpose of the project is to inform the development of the TOEFL by helping to ensure that the language demands of the assessment tasks are similar to those of a university experience (including interaction in technology-mediated learning environments). This research (and other corpus-based research) also has direct implications for English for academic purposes classrooms because we want to ensure that the text types (i.e., registers, genres), task types, and linguistic features that we focus on in our classrooms align with what students will encounter in university settings.

Do you have any words of wisdom for current or future LTS students?

Graduate school can be stressful, but it is also rewarding! I would encourage LTS students to get as many teaching opportunities as possible, and find as many opportunities to be mentored by experienced teachers as possible. I would also encourage LTS students not to forget to have a little fun and to forge meaningful relationships with the other students in your cohort. I am still in contact with many of the individuals in my MA cohort, many of whom are language teaching professionals.

December 31, 2019
by LTSblog
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LTS and NILI in France

Finals week was not just a time for wrapping up classes for Keli Yerian (LTS Director) and Judith Fernandes (curriculum developer at the Northwest Indian Language Institute, or NILI). It was also a unique chance to spend seven days strengthening ties and developing common projects with colleagues in Lyon, France.

Some of the UO – Lyon 2 team in a work meeting, December 2019. From left, Alejandra Vergara, Michel Bert, Bénédicte Pivot, Colette Grinevald, Judith Fernandes

The Université de Lyon 2 and the University of Oregon in fact have a long history through Dr. Colette Grinevald, who was a pivotal figure in the founding of the UO’s Department of Linguistics in the 1970s and is now emeritus professor at Lyon 2. Colette’s groundbreaking work on the endangered language Rama in Nicaragua has had natural ties with NILI’s efforts to support documentation and revitalization over the past 20+ years. In recent years, faculty from both sides of the Atlantic have met up at conferences or at UO or Lyon 2 to discuss and better understand various dynamics across endangered language contexts. Dr. Michel Bert from the Université de Lyon 2 and Dr. Bénédicte Pivot from the Université de Montpellier visited the UO and participated in NILI events in 2017 and 2019 to learn about endangered language contexts in North America. Likewise NILI Director Dr. Janne Underinner and Associate Director Robert Elliott visited France in 2018 to learn more about the case of the endangered language Franco-Provençal.

Judith Fernandes presenting about NILI

This December, the focus turned primarily to questions of how “third parties” such as institutional programs or their resources may be best used for the needs of revitalization, with Keli Yerian and Judith Fernandes representing efforts by LTS and NILI to address these needs. Events in the trip included public presentations about NILI and LTS at the Dynamic du Language (DDL) lab, work group meetings, meetings with faculty from the ICAR lab (Interactions, Corpus, Apprentissage, Représentations) who are also working on plurilingual language learning contexts that involve minoritized and majoritized languages, the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Lyon 2 and UO by Dr. James Walker, Vice-President of Lyon 2, and even a trip to a nearby village where a community play was performed that included both Franco-Provençal and French.

Scene from a community play in Franco-Provençal and French

One example topic of discussion was to what degree popular approaches to second language learning, such as immersion or the use of proficiency-based benchmarks, are appropriate or useful for revitalization contexts, where goals regarding “proficiency” and “communicative competence” might be very specific and context-dependent. What different models might better capture the varied practices and achievements of revitalization efforts, and how can programs and institutes like LTS and NILI help facilitate efforts to develop these models? These are questions that LTS and doctoral students of endangered languages have been tackling with ever-increasing momentum at UO, and we look forward to seeing how these efforts play out in the coming years. We’ll keep you posted!

Signing of the UO-Lyon 2 MOU. From left, James Walker, Judith Fernandes, Michel Bert, Keli Yerian

p.s. To provide additional excitement to the trip, we were witness to the historic strikes happening in France now over retirement and benefits. Here is a scene from a day trip to Aix en Provence.

Strike demonstration in Aix en Provence, December 2019

December 19, 2019
by krobin14
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Alumni Spotlight- Sothy

Sothy Kea graduated from LTS as a Fulbright awardee in 2014 and is now a TESOL language teacher educator and English Center Director in Cambodia. His particular passion for teaching pronunciation led to his MA project, titled “Integrated Oral Skills English Pronunciation Course for Cambodian College Students”.

Sothy at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

What have you been up to since you graduated in 2014?

Since my graduation, I have come back to work as a university lecturer at Institute of Foreign Languages, Royal University of Phnom Penh. I have been teaching in MA in TESOL Program and supervising MA students’ theses. In addition, I have taken a management and leadership position at CIA FIRST International School. I am currently a director of CIA FIRST English Center, which offers general English programs to students of various ages.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of your work in the past few years? Have you had any particular challenges?

Having set up CIA FIRST English Center for CIA FIRST International School has been one of the biggest milestones in my career for the last few years. It used to be only a general English program with approximately 80 students. It has now become a center offering separate English programs to approximately 500 children, teenagers, and adults. In addition, I feel blessed to have formed a dynamic dedicated team in this center, who have been working extremely hard and collaboratively to make today’s success possible. Without them, little would have been achieved! Getting to where we currently are has been quite a challenge though. Transforming an entire organization with a limited budget and human resources was never an easy task. Revamping the curriculum, growing the student number, setting new business strategies, and making other organizational changes were all what we had to do, but these required a lot of patience, dedication, and collaboration among all of the stake holders.

Do you feel that your MA project on integrating pronunciation instruction into the curriculum has been useful to you, directly or indirectly?

with a group of colleagues at CIA FIRST English Center

I believe that my MA project has definitely been useful for my career in two distinctive ways. The overall concepts and hands-on experience of this course development project have tremendously helped me with the curriculum revamping project at CIA FIRST English Center. When we revamped our whole curriculum, I could apply a lot of what I had learned from my MA project into this to make it successful. Also, in MA in TESOL Program at IFL, I have been assigned to teach curriculum and syllabus design in language teaching course in which a great deal of notions from my previous project are practical and relevant, making the teaching even more effective.

Do you stay in touch with any of your cohort members from 2013-14?

After I have graduated, I have been completely occupied with work and family. However, I have been keeping in touch with some friends and professors through email and social media. Last year, I got a chance to attend a conference in Nashville, Tennessee but could not manage to fly to Eugene to visit my professors and friends there. Hopefully, I can do so next time.

Is there any advice you would give to current or future LTS students now in (almost) 2020?

Based on my experience, I am humbled to share a few words with the current and future LTS students. Firstly, knowing your own pace is important. It would be great if you possess all the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with all assigned work in the program. However, if you realize that you usually spend a lot of time to get particular assignment satisfactorily done, then perhaps you might need a different approach. You might need to handle your class assignment as early as possible. The program is quite demanding. It requires a lot of intensive reading, research, and assignment. If you postpone all your assignment, it will build up which you might eventually find it overwhelming to meet all the deadlines. In addition, you could examine whether you lack certain background knowledge or skills to complete the assignment. If so, you might want to take further self-study to build up the necessary background.  Secondly, you should seek help when needed. Inevitably at a particular moment in the program, you will go through a tough time when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, and perplexed. As a matter of fact, this is only seasonal and more importantly, you have a full support system. You could always seek consultation from your course instructors, the program director, and/or the relevant administrative staff. They are unbelievably supportive and approachable! Lastly, you should approach every of your academic course and assignment with utmost care and effort. With time and other constraints, it might be easy to compromise the quality of your works; nevertheless, this academic experience, though somehow challenging at times, will be one in a life time and rewarding in the future. Therefore, it is vital to produce the academic works or results that you are proud to show to your younger generation. Hopefully, my sharing will make a positive difference in your academic journey!

 

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

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