Emily Letcher is from the Eugene area and is an alumnus of both the University of Oregon and the Second Language Acquisition & Teaching (SLAT) certificate program. She majored in Italian and recently taught English Conversation in Piedmont, Italy. She’s interested in the use of film and TV series to teach pragmatics.
Could you describe your internship experience?
My internship was with the US Thai Distance Learning Organization. The program is a short-term study abroad experience for Thai high school students that the University of Oregon hosts in Fall and Spring term. This term I had the pleasure of working with 13 students visiting from St. Gabriel’s College, located in Bangkok.
What was most challenging about your internship?
The most challenging thing was planning lessons that were cohesive with all the other activities students were doing outside the classroom. We really wanted students to be practicing language that they could go out and use right away. For example, on the first day we talked about how to navigate the Eugene bus system. At the end of the class, students had to find their way to the shopping mall on their own. It brings a whole new mindset when planning lessons if you know that students aren’t just going to be doing role-plays in the class, but that they actually are depending on you to help them do this task in real life and that the consequences, whether good or bad, will be immediate and tangible. That was a bit of a contrast from when I taught in Italy.
What was the most rewarding part of your internship?
What was truly rewarding was seeing high school students, within days of arriving in the U.S. for the first time, get out of their comfort zone and be so successful. The best example of this was their interaction with fellow LTS students. The Thai students had a couple of opportunities to sit down and get to know the cohort, and we were also generously welcomed into Trish Pashby’s culture and literature class to give presentations on Thai culture. I know from some of the Thai students’ heartfelt comments afterwards that they benefited immensely from these experiences and made meaningful connections with the LTS students that will, hopefully, inspire them to come back soon.
How do you think your internship experience will influence your future teaching?
This question is easy! Ever since being a part of the SLAT/LTS cohort the first time around, I’ve been hoping to go teach in Southeast Asia. Now, with the help of the US-TDLO director and of course my adviser and our director Keli Yerian, it looks like that dream might happen… in Thailand!