Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

July 30, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

MA Project Spotlight Liatris Myers

Liatris Myers is a member of the Language Teaching Specialization program from the western U.S. Her MA project’s working title is: Integrating instruction on pragmatically appropriate English oral requests into IEP courses.

WhLia_Myersat is your MA project?

My project is about teaching pragmatically (culturally) appropriate English oral requests to learners of English as a second language by inserting bits of instruction on requests into their IEP (Intensive English Program) courses. Making appropriate requests is something that many ESL learners struggle with at all levels, and it also tends not to be prioritized in language learning courses, especially academically focused IEP programs that already have packed curriculums aimed at helping learners develop the linguistic skills they need for university level classes. That’s why I’m working on ways to work instruction on requests into IEP courses.

What inspired you to choose this topic?

Working with ESL learners, I became accustomed to them making requests using the imperative, such as, “Give me the pencil”. I knew they didn’t mean to be rude, and so I just paid attention what they were saying and ignored how they said it. Then a girl told me a story about a traumatic experience she’d had when she first came to the U.S. and, knowing very little English and nothing of polite requests, had used the imperative to ask an American woman for something and the woman had gotten angry with her. Then I thought, oh, maybe I shouldn’t be letting this go, because sooner or later they’re going to meet people who don’t understand and get upset.

What has been most challenging about doing the project (or what advice would you give new LTS students about the project)?

For me the most challenging things about the project are the way it’s always shifting and how nothing ever seems to end. As you work on it, you find you need to adjust or add or dispose of a lot of things, and partly because of this, it seems like there’s always more literature to look up, more information to collect for the needs analysis, etc. So I would tell new LTS students to be prepared for and open to the ever-evolving nature of the project, but also to know where to draw the line, because you can’t include everything in the universe on your topic.

What do you like best about your project?

There are many things I like about my project. In doing research for it I’ve gotten to learn many interesting things from the literature, people, and the IEP. I like that it doesn’t focus on just one skill, but gathers together many things like grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and cultural knowledge. I feel like there’s a real need for my topic and what I learn now will help me in my future teaching. And I’ve been surprised and thrilled by the enthusiasm and support I’ve received on the project from everyone – language teaching professionals, non-teaching ESL program employees, and the learners themselves.

July 28, 2015
by LTSblog

Faculty Spotlight Brian Barnett

Could you tell us a little bit about your connection to the LTS program? 

I became connected to the LTS program while being the Director of French Language Instruction in the Department of Romance Languages at the U of O.  My academic background is in French and language education, so I wanted to find additional opportunities to work with students and faculty dedicated to language pedagogy. My profile is somewhat different from most other LTS faculty members as I bring a perspective of an experienced language educator working in the field of FL instruction (French) within the United States. Currently, I am the Director of the First-Year Language Program in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics at Indiana State University.  I teach first- through third-year French courses, supervise graduate students teaching first and second semester courses for all languages (German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, etc.), and teach in the graduate program in linguistics. I have remained involved with LTS from a distance by working with students’ final projects and teaching the summer capstone seminar (LT 610) in some years.

Could you briefly describe the course(s) you teach?

I have taught two different courses in the LTS program. The first is LT 536 Second Language Teaching.  This course gives students a solid foundation in developing lessons plans for their particular teaching contexts.  The culminating assignment is quite practical as it requires students to design a unit of at least three sequenced lesson plans that is grounded in current pedagogical theory and practice; this is a task that future teachers will encounter in the classroom.  The second course is LT 610 Language Teaching Seminar in Summer terms.  This 4-week seminar is taught with variable topics.  My class has been organized with three modules focusing on learning styles and strategies: (a) exposure to different learning styles and strategies and their classifications, (b) frameworks for Styles- and Strategies- Based Instruction and how to incorporate this approach to your lesson plans, and (c) teacher action research through collection of style and/or strategy data from students.

What do you like best about working with LTS students?  

[note: despite the background, no wine was consumed during the making of this video]


July 23, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

MA Project Spotlight Ben Pearson

Ben Pearson is an LTS graduate student originally from Salem.  Ben will graduate in summer 2015.Ben_P

What is your MA project?

My project is a materials portfolio on how to use certain board and card games to teach negotiation skills to ESL learners. Essentially, this portfolio will give teachers some fresh ideas on how games can be used to teach and some sample activities to try out for themselves.

What inspired you to choose this topic?

One of my hobbies is playing analog games of all different kinds, but I was not sure if that could transfer over to a very robust MA project. I was taking a course on pragmatics at the time and one day the class discussed how games can offer several opportunities for learners to engage in authentic discourse and practice speech acts in a safe, fabricated environment. However, I noticed that there was a large amount of research done on digital games, not analog. From there, I knew that my topic could fill a gap in the research out there as well as give me a chance to bring one of my favorite hobbies into my work.

What has been most challenging about doing the project (or what advice would you give new LTS students about the project)?

One of the more challenging issues that I have run into is not getting sufficient needs analysis data for my project. I have not received as many responses to my survey as I would have liked, so I am now trying to get in touch with students that I have taught in the past to see if they would be willing to help me out. My advice is to manage your time effectively when it comes to your project and to have plenty of backup plans ready if anything goes wrong.

What do you like best about your project?

It gives me a chance to flex my creative muscles which have admittedly atrophied due to different obligations and assignments which require more linear thinking. I also like the idea that someone else could continue the work of my project in the future and create some activities based off of new games that have not been created yet.

July 16, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

MA Project Spotlight Kelsey Hertel

Kelsey is a current LTS student.  Her MA Project is titled:  Integrating American English pragmatic instruction in tourism training programs in Latin America: A materials portfolio.


What is your MA Project?

I am creating a materials portfolio that will teach American English pragmatic instruction in tourism training programs in Latin America. The point of this project is to implement my materials into these programs so that tour guides trained there will be able to communicate with American tourists more easily and effectively, ensure quality customer service, and increase their profits.


What inspired you to choose this topic?

When I was traveling in South and Central America last year, I did a lot of different tour programs and treks throughout the region.  I noticed a very large disconnect between American English pragmatics and the way the tour guides were communicating with the tourists from the United States.  Because of this, the tourists felt offended at times or felt disrespected – and it wasn’t at all intentional. The tour guides just weren’t aware that their methods of communication were incorrect or inappropriate when speaking English and were creating these unsuccessful transactions with their clients.  I realized then that there was a huge need for this kind of pragmatic instruction in their English and tourism training programs.


What is the best thing about your MA Project?  What’s made it challenging?

What advice would you give incoming LTS students about the MA Project?

Pick a topic that you love, that really inspires you, and that you could possibly use in the future.  You will be spending so much time on so many different areas and aspects of this project, that you should love it and love spending the time on it.  Having a personal connection makes it so much more doable, easy, and enjoyable!

July 14, 2015
by LTSblog

Faculty Spotlight Tom Delaney

How have you been involved as a faculty and administrator at the University of Oregon?

In addition to teaching in the LTS MA program, I am faculty and an administrator in the American English Institute (AEI). I have taught extensively in most of the AEI’s programs, including the Intensive English Program (IEP) for pre-matriculated students, the Academic English for International Students (AEIS) program for UO undergraduate students, and the eLearning program, which provides teacher training and development courses for language teachers around the globe.

I am also currently the Coordinator of the AEIS program. This means I am involved in curriculum and assessment development, scheduling courses and teachers, and working with campus partners – we are always looking for ways to improve our programs and help students succeed at the University of Oregon.

Can you describe what you teach in the LTS program?

I regularly teach LT 535 Second Language Teaching Methods and LT 549 Language Testing and Assessment.

LT 535 builds a bridge between the theoretical issues explored in the study of Second Language Acquisition (LING 540) and the very practical skills developed in the course on Language Teaching Planning (LT 536). We explore the history of language teaching up to our current understanding of the principles of language teaching and learning. We also get a sense of all the different individual, social, cultural, and institutional factors that can affect how languages are taught and learned. We then move on to building some skills which are developed in more depth in LT 536: curriculum development, lesson planning, and choosing or developing appropriate tasks and activities.

LT 549 is a course that some students are not excited to take, but, in my experience, most students find language testing and assessment surprisingly interesting. Some even find it fascinating! This class is a unique blend of the deeply philosophical (“How can we know what a language learner knows or can do?”) and very practical (“What’s the best way to assess what my students have learned in this class?”). Personally, I find developing valid and reliable ways to assess learning to be an intensely creative and intellectually stimulating activity, and I am always gratified that many students seem to come to a similar view after taking this class.

What is an example of a strength of the LTS program?

What advice do you have for LTS students?

Be patient. This program prepares you to be a well-rounded language teaching professional. You will gain knowledge and skills that will serve you well in any language teaching context, not just one or two. You will develop practical skills and you will have the opportunity to personalize your projects, but don’t breeze past the things that seem “too theoretical.” Give the tough issues your attention and you may find that those are the things you return to again and again in your career. There are many, many books full of activities and lesson plans. This program will give you a lot more than that, and that’s what separates a good MA program from a fly-by-night language teaching certificate.

July 9, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

Internship Spotlight Weiwei Wu

Weiwei Wu

Weiwei Wu is a current LTS student from China who will be graduating in summer 2015. She participates in the curriculum design and teaching of the Chinese Language and Culture Club for Edison Elementary School, and has a tremendous enthusiasm for teaching Chinese.


In what context did your internship take place?

I interned for a RWG (Reading, Writing, Grammar) level 2 course in the AEI (American English Institute). Students are from China and Saudi Arabia. There are about 18 students in the class.


What surprised you most about the internship?

The teacher is amazing. Cevia is so friendly and warm, and is always willing to offer great language sources for the students. Most students appreciate that and the relationship between the teacher and students is really impressive.


What part of the internship was the most challenging for you?

Learning how to get the attention of students. Because the polarity of the students is obvious; some students work really hard and they make progress so quickly, while some others are less motivated to do homework, or need to be monitored to prevent cheating on exams or using phones in class for reasons not related to classwork.


Would you be willing to share a memorable or special moment from your internship?

Once I was teaching under the supervision of the teacher. I was very nervous, and made some grammar mistakes, but my students looked at me encouragingly and praised me a lot after I finished. I was so grateful to their generosity and kindness.

July 8, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

MA Project Spotlight Al Ullman

Al is a current LTS graduate student.  His MA Project is titled:  Breaking the cycle, building a future:  A sustainable peer-based tutor training workshop for ESL learners inside the prison system.

What is your MA project?

For my MA project I am developing a tutor-training course for fluent native speakers incarcerated in prisons in Oregon to tutor other incarcerated individuals who are not fluent in English.

What inspired you to choose this topic?

My undergraduate work inspired my devotion to restorative justice. Particularly my involvement in a course held inside of an Oregon state prison led by Steven Shankman and a seminar that was also led by professor Shankman some time later. I was also very concerned about working with a MA project that was meaningful to me and that I could envision both a need for and a possible place of implementation for my project.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the project?/what advice would you give?

The most challenging thing for this project is nailing down what it was going to look like. The actual project had a number of variations before it became what it is today.

Al Ullman: MA Project Advice for Incoming Students from LTSblog on Vimeo.

 What was your most memorable moment in the LTS Program?

Every memorable and meaningful moment in my program came from saying yes to extra work, additional internships, and volunteer opportunities. Say yes to anything that comes your way! Work with Thai students, work with AEI students, tutor anyone that wants it! Are you qualified? Hey, they asked you, so you can do it. You will struggle, it’s a challenge! This is how we learn, improve, and gain confidence! Do it!



July 2, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

The LTS Experience: The best thing about LTS with Joliene Adams

In this series, Language Teaching Specialization students share their opinions of the best parts of LTS.

Joliene comes to Eugene from Portland, Oregon and Boulder, Colorado. Earning a Master’s in Comparative Literature at the University of Colorado in 2013, Joliene sought to get her hands in the dirt and find a direct application for her trilingual skills and love of teaching. Joliene is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and currently endeavoring to learn Chinuk Wawa. She is interested in digital storytelling, education software, classroom technology and video making, endangered and less commonly taught languages, writing, and of course, literature. She has lived in Cuba and Bolivia, traveled to eight Latin American countries, and is thrilled to be part of the Language Teaching Specialization program.

Joliene Adams: The Best Thing About LTS from LTSblog on Vimeo.

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