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.