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 challenging 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.