Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

August 27, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

Internship Spotlight Ben Pearson

Ben Pearson is an LTS graduate student originally from Salem.  Ben’s MA Project is entitled: Using Analog Games to Improve Negotiation Skills in Upper Intermediate Level ESL Learners.


What was your internship context?

I chose to take my internship at the Center for Applied Second Language studies, (CASLS). My context was that I’d be working on their blog website called Games2Teach.  My master’s project is about using games in a classroom setting to teach pragmatics and I took a class from Julie Sykes, the CASLS director, on that topic in the winter.  I asked her if there was any way I could intern with CASLS, and she said she had a position available.  I worked on the Games2Teach site and also creating materials, lesson plans, and activities.  It was a really nice, comfortable office setting with a great group of people.


What surprised you most about your internship?

One of the most surprising thing about working over at CASLS was how accommodating Julie and all of the staff were there.  It was just a friendly, warm environment, and I didn’t feel like an outsider at all.  Everyone had their own jobs to do, and it was a very supportive atmosphere that really made me feel like part of the team.  Even though I may not be as proficient in a second language as some of my colleagues there, (some of them speaking three or four different languages), I still felt like I had my part to play and that what I was doing was meaningful. That was also surprising.  I was producing content for the InterCom newsletter, and I was creating activities and updating the blog. It was great to be actually putting what I was learning in LTS to use in this great atmosphere.


What was the most chBen_Pallenging part of your internship?

One of the challenges of working at CASLS became time management. While doing all of this great work coming up with activities and blogging, I was also in the LTS program, which as you know is a very intensive program where you’re taking about 12-14 credits per term, so time management was a big challenge.  It was something that I had to learn to do well, but I think it was a positive challenge. Before I hadn’t considered myself very good at time management, but having this internship and being in this Masters program I had to learn to do it effectively.  Not to mention, if something really big came up in my academic life, I could talk to my colleagues and flex my schedule.  They were very accommodating and understood that I was a very busy student.  It was definitely tough, but I think I am now better because of it.


Would you care to share a memorable moment?

One of the more surprising things that happened to me was when I was asked to write up a game review for Dragon Age: Origins, a recent game that had come out.  Julie had created a template for five different criteria that needed to be addressed in the review.  I was sitting in the office one day playing this video game, and some members of the team came over and starting asking me linguistic questions and discussing how parts of the game could be used for instruction.  I sat there a moment and realized that I play video games on my own time, but I never thought talking about pragmatics and speech acts and linguistic forms would ever mesh up together with that context. It was one of those moments when I realized that I was really interning at the best place for me, and I had never thought that this combination would work! My skill set and my interests were really lining up perfectly.  I really enjoyed interning there, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in the program.

August 13, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

Internship Spotlight Patricia Roldan Marcos

Patricia is an LTS student originally from Spain. She will be graduating in summer 2015.

In what context did your internship take place?

I did an internship in the Intensive Spanish Grammar Review course in Winter 2015. It was a 300-level class with Sayo Murcia and the group consisted mostly of American students, but I remember there was a student from Europe and also a heritage language learner. The learners were very enthusiastic even if they knew the focus would be grammar. Who said students hate grammar? ☺


What surprised you most about the internship?

The most surprising part of the internship was the fact that students had to present a grammatical point to the rest of the class. I had never tried this in my teaching career, so it was really interesting to see how students found original ways to help their classmates grasp the language features. It was challenging, but it worked really well because the time they spent researching and preparing their topic helped them gain confidence and become experts on it. I remember a pair used a sonnet by Neruda to exemplify a type of subordinate clause – just amazing!


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

Well, I love grammar, but I had never taught it outside of an integrated skills class, so it was a new experience for me and that’s why I wanted to intern in this course. Moreover, I hadn’t taught Spanish since 2008, so these two factors pushed me out of my comfort zone and provided me with the challenge I was looking for. Being a native speaker of the language, I had to spend a good amount of time researching the grammatical points I was going to teach. When preparing my presentations, I also considered why English speakers found these topics especially hard and tried to come up with examples that would be tricky and relevant for them.

For Tiff-blog

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

There were a lot of memorable moments because of the positive environment in the class. Sayo built rapport with students from day one by playing salsa before the teaching began, through the use of humor and the sharing of personal experiences. For me, it was special every time we pointed out cultural elements, pragmatic differences, and shared personal insights with the class because I feel we were contributing to the development of well-rounded students. I’m really grateful for having had Sayo as my mentor in this internship.

August 6, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

Internship Spotlight Katie Rasmussen

Katie Rasmussen is a current LTS student graduating in summer 2015.  She is interested in the use of mobile apps to augment language learning.

In what context did your internship take place?KR Photo 3

I did an internship in an Oral Skills class, E-prep level. E-prep is called so because it is the lowest level in the AEI and it is preparing them to study English in the higher levels. It consisted mostly of students from the Middle East who have not had much, if any, English instruction before coming to the States. Many of them were experienced professionals in their countries.


What surprised you most about the internship?

The thing that surprised me the most was how much I enjoyed the level. I was nervous about interning for this level and wasn’t sure I would like it very much. But at this level the students require a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and because the teacher was able to give that to the students, it was a great and really fun class. Most of the students were new to the United States so they were really enthusiastic and excited to learn, so it was a great and fun environment.


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

The most difficult thing about the internship was giving instructions. Because of the level, some vocabulary words that are often used when giving instructions and describing activities were not known by the students. Often, the teacher would give instructions and tell the students to start the activity but they misunderstood them. I would try and help and go around and reiterate the instructions, but it was difficult sometimes to find vocabulary that the students would understand. There always ending up being lots of gesturing, writing things on the board, repetition, and modeling.


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

Honestly, there were a lot of great moments in the class. I would always leave the classroom happier and with more energy than when I entered the classroom. Spending time with the students and the wonderful teacher really energized me. A particularly special moment was seeing the students give their first ever presentation in English. It was just a 2 minute speech about their families, but seeing them make that accomplishment of getting up in front of the class and giving a speech in this new language was great to see. In the break after the presentations, one of the students went up to the teacher and asked her if they could do speeches and presentations in front of the class every week because he enjoyed it and wanted to practice speaking in English more. It was great to see the students so willing and wanting to practice.

August 4, 2015
by LTSblog
1 Comment

Faculty Spotlight Robert Elliott

What do you do at the University of Oregon, and how are you connected to LTS?

I am faculty at the American English Institute and the Associate Director of Educational Technology at the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI). I specialize in CALL, pronunciation and intonation, and International Graduate Teaching Fellow (IGTF) Training, as well as work with indigenous language revitalization. I teach classes in the LTS program on CALL in the Spring and Summer terms. One of my favorite classes is the Summer CALL class where I get to witness firsthand the metamorphosis of the project papers into academic presentations. I love seeing the creative and innovative ways LTS students come up with to present their work to the UO community.

What do you think is most important for LTS students to get out of the program?

Since I work with small, endangered languages I am a bit biased. I feel the LTS program offers a rare opportunity for new teachers to raise their awareness of the issues of minority languages and the threats to linguistic diversity, both here in the US and around the globe. This is something my MA program in TESOL did not do.

Just as we are witnessing the severe threats to endangered species around the globe, similarly we are seeing the world’s languages disappearing. The teaching of major languages like English is not the cause of the problem, but it certainly can exacerbate the problem. I think the LTS program – with its emphasis on building language education professionals rather than English teachers – leaves graduates with a sensitivity to these issues. I think LTS grads see mother tongue language as a basic human right. As language professionals we should “tread lightly” on smaller, more vulnerable languages. We should not leave our students with the explicit or even implicit assumption that some languages are more valuable, useful or more fit for the modern world than others. LTS students get to experience this first hand through exposure to faculty and peers working on less commonly taught and endangered languages.

What message do you have for LTS students this week?

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