Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

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.

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