Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

October 29, 2015
by Annelise Marshall
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Internship Spotlight: Emily Letcher

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.


The Thai students’ last day of class with guest Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Ken Doxsee (center), their chaperoning professor Jae Charinwit (third to the right) and Emily Letcher (right)

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?


Emily Letcher (center) with the Thai students as they do a fun activity with the LTS students in LT 428/528.

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!


The Thai students with LTS students after a fun coffee hour together at the EMU


October 26, 2015
by LTSblog

Faculty spotlight Trish Pashby


What is your connection to the LTS Program?

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching in the program since its beginning in 2004 and was director for four years (2007-2010). I love my colleagues, who are a very talented group of teacher educators, and the students we serve: new and/or developing language teachers from all over the world. I also teach at UO’s American English Institute, where a number of graduates from the LTS program are now employed. It’s wonderful to see evidence everyday of their success as professional, skilled, creative, enthusiastic language teachers.

What courses do you teach?

Currently I’m teaching LT 528 (Teaching Culture & Literature), where we explore culture from a sociolinguistic perspective and work on approaches for effectively bringing culture and various kinds of literature into language instruction. The other course I regularly teach is LT 541 (Teaching English Pronunciation). In this class, we study English phonetics/phonology, focusing on both segmental and suprasegmental features, and then apply this knowledge to a teaching context: What do our learners need? How can we provide this? In both courses, we work as a group on principles and basic approaches but students must then apply these to their individual teaching contexts to demonstrate mastery of the subjects and ability to adapt these to their learners.

What do you like best about your work in the LTS Program?

The people! I love working with colleagues and students who are motivated, open-minded, curious, and willing to work hard. I also really appreciate the opportunity it gives me to continuously increase my knowledge. I learn as I prepare to teach my courses (keeping up with new research, developments in the field, etc.), but I learn even more from what the students bring to the courses (their ideas, their experiences) and the innovative approaches they come up with when interacting with the coursework.

I hear you’ve had some interesting international experiences this past year…

Yes, this past year has been especially exciting. I traveled to Pakistan twice, where I visited Karakorum International University in Gilgit as part of their partnership with UO (through the U.S State Dept.). My job there was to work on faculty development in terms of teaching and publishing in English. I also had a quick trip to Colombia where I facilitated a 3-day workshop for faculty at Universidad Del Norte in Baranquilla. And then at the beginning of September I was in Egypt for two weeks working with faculty at Ain Sham University in Cairo to create a certificate program for English language teachers. I loved all of these adventures!

Do you have any advice for LTS students?

October 23, 2015

Student Spotlight: Xiaoshuang Wei

IMG_0184Xiaoshuang Wei is from the Northwest of China. Her undergraduate major was English literature. In her senior year in college, she went on an exchange program in Eugene for five months. After getting her BA, she went back to U of O to pursue her Master’s degree.

What do you think about your learning experience here?
I really like the friendly and supportive cohort environment in this program. LTS is a program that encourages cooperation and highly values cultural diversity. I benefited just as much from working with my cohort members as learning from the teachers. Coming from China I’m used to passively listening to teachers lecture in class. In LTS classes, I experienced different teaching styles, which gave me great inspiration in developing my own teaching philosophy.

What is your MA topic? Why do you choose this MA topic?

My MA topic is Grammar and Cohesion — developing discourse ability in American learners of Chinese. I was interested in this topic from when I was doing my GTF as a Chinese tutor for the Chinese Flagship program in U of O. Grading and giving feedback on students’ writing has always been a challenge. Many students’ writing sounds alien; however when you look at individual sentences, they are mostly grammatically correct. This makes me wonder what it is that makes their writing incoherent and what the teachers can do to help improve students’ overall discourse ability.

What process have you experienced to finish it? What is the most challenging part?

I took a more linguistic approach in finishing this project. Unlike most of my cohort members who did surveys in their needs analyses, I created a mini corpus of all the students’ writing samples and did a writing analysis. The most challenging work is to create teaching material and activities that use the methodology we’ve learned in LTS classes to tackle the problems identified in the writing analysis. It is a valuable experience for me to modify teaching methods and activities that were originally designed for TESL/TEFL context to teach Chinese, a language that’s drastically different from English.

Do you have any suggestions for our cohort who haven’t finished our MA projects?
I believe that interest is the biggest motivation. Find out a real need or something you want to investigate and start from there. It is normal to feel stuck or overwhelmed. Talk to your advisors with specific questions that you have and ask for recommendations for big names in the field or important literature. The teachers are always happy to help you and they all want us to succeed.

October 20, 2015
by Misaki Kato

Alumni Spotlight: Misaki Kato

Misaki Kato graduated from LTS in 2014. Her MA project was titled, “The Effects of Peer Review Training on ESL Upper-Intermediate Students’ Individual Writing Skills”. Below she shares how the practical teacher training in LTS helps her think about applications of theoretical concepts in the UO theoretical Linguistics program which is where she is studying now.misaki_hike (1)

What is the work that you are doing now?

I’m currently a second year PhD student in the theoretical Linguistics program at UO. My focus is in second language acquisition, especially in speech production, perception, and the relationship between the two (which is one of the big projects I’ve been working on outside of coursework). I’m also interested in production and perception of foreign accented speech. Also, I’m part of the LTS social media team and managing posts on facebook and twitter pages, which I enjoy very much.

In what ways did the degree from the LTS program lead you to where you are now?

The LTS program gave me opportunities to think about theoretical issues from practical sides and also further strengthened my interests in SLA theories. Especially because I hadn’t had experience in teaching as a full-time teacher, it was helpful for me to talk about ideas with my classmates and faculty who were more experienced teachers who had taught in many different contexts. My “learning by doing” experiences, such as microteaching in LT classes, internships in the AEI, and GTF-ing in Japanese classes, gave me so much insight into how to approach real classroom issues in various ways.

The faculty members were very helpful and flexible. Even though the LTS program doesn’t prepare students for PhD program in terms of its coursework, the faculty members never stopped me from thinking about practical issues from theoretical point of view, and they encouraged me to explore my questions in creative ways. I was very grateful that my MA project advisor and the second reader worked with me patiently to construct my action research project and gave me insightful theoretical and practical advice. These unique and supportive characteristics of LTS led me to where I am now.

Now in my theoretical program, when I think about abstract ideas or theories, I often think about the potential practical application of the question that I’m trying to explore (e.g. Why does this matter? What could this possibly mean for second language learners and teachers?). Sometimes I easily get confused with the significance of theoretical linguistic concepts, but my experiences in LTS remind me of the things that language learners and teachers do and what actually matters in the classroom.

Why did you initially choose to pursue an MA degree in Language Teaching?

After having teacher training in my home country, I wanted to pursue more solid knowledge and experiences about language learning and teaching before I actually had a job as a full-time language teacher. When I was an undergraduate exchange student from Japan at UO, I met Keli and she introduced me to the LTS program and one of its alumni. I thought it would be a great place to pursue my theoretical interests and to explore options to apply what I had learned in practical ways.

Do you have any advice for LTS graduates who might pursue jobs other than language teaching after their degrees?

One of the big things (skills) that I learned in LTS is to interact and collaborate with classmates. I think being able to collaborate with people at a professional level is a really important skill whatever you are doing. Sometimes it’s not easy (especially for a person like me who is not always good at socializing), but talking with people about whatever ideas you have (or they have) really helps to broaden your perspective. It’s helpful to actually explain your idea to somebody else too, to organize your own thoughts. So, my advice would be to use the collaborative skill that you built in LTS wherever you go.

October 15, 2015
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Student Spotlight: Becky Lawrence


Becky Lawrence, originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, double majored in English and Spanish Linguistics. She is currently learning Japanese as her third language and dreams of teaching English at a university in Japan. She is interested in integrating digital games and creative writing into her future classrooms.

Why did you choose the LTS program?
I chose the LTS program at the UO because it offered something I couldn’t get anywhere else I researched: the ability to obtain a Master’s degree through an intensive one-year program completed with a small cohort of peers under the guidance of excellent faculty. During the day, I am a busy graduate student with classes and work. When I go home, however, I hang up my backpack and leave the student life at the door because I have a three and a half year old who has missed me all day. Being able to get such an amazing education in half the time allows me to get into my desired career sooner than anywhere else. It is almost too good to be true!
What are you involved in outside of your LTS classes?

I am currently a Conversation Partner and Help Desk Writing Tutor at the American English Institute (AEI), an intern at the CASLS, the Center for Applied Second Language Studies, and an English Language Circle Leader at Mills International Center.

How do you balance everything that you do?

I wake up every morning and look at my child. It really is that simple. Seeing her young, innocent face and imagining the dreams I want her to be able to achieve one day gives me the motivation to do everything I can to not only provide for my family, but to show her that she can do anything she dreams of as long as she never gives up.

What advice would you give to other parents about going to grad school?

Don’t ever limit or label yourself. Don’t think that you’re too old, or too busy, or too anything. If you want to go to graduate school, do it! The hardest part is believing in yourself. The only things that are impossible in life are the things you have never tried doing.

What are you most looking forward to this year in class or in your other involvements?

I am looking forward to starting on my Master’s Project! Although it’s going to be a long and most likely difficult road (which is why energy drinks were invented !),  I am so excited to create something that will be useful to me in my career as a language teacher.

October 12, 2015
by LTSblog

Faculty spotlight Deborah Healey

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

I have taught in the LTS program and online teacher education courses from the American English Institute since I came to the University of Oregon in 2009. Appropriate use of technology in teaching is a passion of mine. I’ve done workshops in a wide range of countries and contexts to encourage teachers to understand the technology available to them – and what might be available in future – so that teachers can make good choices about the resources they use.

Could you briefly describe the course you teach?

I teach the Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) Workshop in Fall and Winter terms. The courses are designed to give a sense of ways that technology can be used to achieve teaching and learning goals, both as an LTS student and as a language teacher. Aside from our learning management system, Canvas, the CALL course uses freely-available resources that are accessible outside the UO so that LTS grads will be able to take what they’ve worked on and use it wherever they go.

What is the best part about your work?

I greatly enjoy the way that the different aspects of my professional life fit together. Currently, I’m co-teaching a massive open online course (MOOC) with Jeff Magoto and Elizabeth Hanson-Smith. We co-developed the two 5-week courses that have been taken by over 50,000 people in the past two years. I’ve also developed and taught several fully online courses to English language teachers around the world, and I’ve been privileged to give workshops internationally as an Academic Specialist with the US Department of State. My face-to-face teaching has benefitted from all of this. Sometimes I can see the results of the work, as with the Gabon Oregon Center project. I did teacher training in Gabon with Keli Yerian with the goal of enabling Gabonese teachers to become teacher trainers. This June, that paid off with the opening of the Laboratoire de Langue in Libreville, offering general English and teacher training courses and staffed by Gabonese teachers. We were also able to provide an internship opportunity to 2015 LTS alum Tiffany Van Pelt in Gabon, where she is right now.

What advice would you give to LTS students?  (video answer below)

October 8, 2015

Student Spotlight: Katie Carpenter, a new GTF at CASLS

Katie Carpenter is originally from Anchorage, Alaska. She speaks Spanish, and some Japanese and Portuguese, and is interested in learner engagement and motivation, and curriculum and materials planning. She has taught English at a language school in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, working with all levels.


Why did you choose the LTS program?

I chose the LTS program because of the experience I had at the UO, in the Language Teaching and Linguistics Departments, while an undergrad. I originally wanted to go into elementary education, and was taking classes to do that. Since I love languages and travel, I decided late to try out some LT and LING classes, and loved the material and faculty I got to work with. I really liked how I found everything I was learning to have a real-world application in the areas I was interested in, and I got a lot of support from others in LT and in the Linguistics department. After that, it felt like the obvious choice for me.

What is your GTF context?

I am the Curriculum Development Assistant at CASLS, the Center for Applied Second Language Studies. A lot of what I have been doing so far is helping on projects where they need some extra assistance–doing transcription, helping get the game app Ecopod (which was recently used in its first class at UO!) ready, helping at a freshman orientation booth, etc. I’ve been able to learn a lot about many different projects at the center. One project I am working on now that I really enjoy is writing classroom materials/activities for InterCom, our weekly newsletter, and that will be a portion of materials taken to this year’s ACTFL convention.

What is the most challenging part of your GTF?

A lot of the materials/resources developed at CASLS are intended to be used in a language classroom in the United States, which is not where my past experience has been. CASLS also has projects that are very game/interactive technology focused, and I don’t have much experience using that type of technology in the classroom. I’m finding that I often need to do some extra research, or ask questions of those around me, to expand upon my own experience and knowledge. I think this helps me create materials that are applicable in a wider variety of contexts than I am used to, so that they are useful to more teachers and classes. Luckily, CASLS has a really supportive environment, and I’ve been able to get lots of advice.

What is the most rewarding part of your GTF?

I’m learning so much, and I’m getting really valuable experience. It also makes me proud that the materials that I write, or projects that I help with even a little, are going to be resources that are used in language classrooms, and that will help students learn. Like I said, it’s a really supportive environment, and they’ve already made a point to not only put me on projects where they need help, but also give me work that will help me develop my own skills and qualifications.

What are you most looking forward to this year in your GTF or in the
LTS program?

In my GTF, I’m looking forward to learning from what everyone at the center has to offer, getting more resource development experience, and, short term, hopefully going to the ACTFL convention this year with them.
In the LTS program, I’m hoping to take advantage of all the opportunities for skill development they offer. I’m looking forward to doing an AEI internship, to starting on my MA project, and to developing more relationships with faculty.
Both contexts provide me with a lot of opportunities, and I’m eager to take advantage of them!

October 5, 2015
by LTSblog

Alumni Spotlight Norman Kerr

Norman Kerr graduated from LTS in 2007. His MA project was titled, “Preparing University Students for Self-Directed Study: An Online Chinese Course”. Below he talks about how his experiences in LTS and also in subsequent teaching career led him to his current job at the Yamada Language Center at UO.

What is the work that you are doing now?

I’m currently working for the Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon as a CALL expert and analyst programmer. We develop web applications for language teachers not only at the University of Oregon, but also around the world. We just released a new version of our application, ANVILL (A National VIrtual Language Lab), that provides teachers with several speech-based tools for online and blended learning classes.

 In what ways did the degree from the LTS program help prepare you for this position?

There are several ways the LTS program helped me succeed in my current job, and also at my last job as a EFL teacher in Taiwan. The first was providing theory and practice at curriculum design. With my current job it’s been very useful for understanding how to build software that can be used to either supplement the main class curriculum or as the sole curriculum for the class.

The second way it prepared me was by giving me the chance to co-teach with an experienced ESL teacher here at UO, particularly since I went into the program with no teaching experience. This was very helpful in getting my first EFL job in Taiwan.

Lastly, the CALL classes were very useful, not so much from a technical perspective, since I already had an extensive technical background, but in providing an overview of different CALL technologies and the ways to integrate these technologies into the classroom. It has been immensely helpful to know what software is already available and what purpose/problem that software is trying to solve, when developing new language learning applications with new and upcoming technologies.

Why did you initially choose to pursue an MA degree in Language Teaching?

I’ve been passionate about language learning for a long time. My bachelors degree was in Chinese, and I’ve also spent time learning Thai and Spanish. My initial reason for choosing the LTS program was mainly to enrich my own language learning skills and to extend that passion into a career that gave me the ability to work and travel and continue to learn languages.

Do you have any advice for LTS graduates who might pursue jobs other than language teaching after their degrees?

My advice, based on my own experience, is that it’s worth spending some time actually teaching before going into a different or related field. I gained a great deal from the three years I spent teaching in Taiwan, and I’m constantly putting to use that knowledge and experience, particularly in understanding the teaching process and classroom requirements for an audience I’m no longer exposed to on a daily basis, but are the end users of the software I develop. Having a mixed background of both technical and pedagogical was essential in getting my current job.


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