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.
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.