Xiaoshuang 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.