LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

November 19, 2015
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Yanika Phetchroj

My name is Yanika Phetchroj, from Thailand. I enrolled in the LTS program in summer 2009 and graduated the following summer.

What and where are you teaching now?

Now I’m teaching English at the English Department at Thammasat University, the second oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in Thailand. I 644227_212153002263945_1461405675_nhave been teaching here for three years. My students are undergraduates from various departments and years. The classes that I normally teach are English Listening and Speaking, Reading for Information, Paragraph Writing, English Structure, and English for Hotel Personnel.

What was your MA project about?

My MA project was “Activities and techniques for improving oral skills in Thai high school EFL classes”. I did this because I have strong interest in teaching oral skills. Also, from my experience as a learner and as a native Thai speaking teacher of English, I found that Thai students have problems when it comes to English speaking and listening skills. Most Thai students start learning English with native Thai speaking teachers who teach English by emphasizing grammatical rules (the traditional Grammar Translation Method), and oral skills are overlooked. Thai ELT teachers predominantly speak Thai in the English classroom and most of the major examinations such as the university entrance examination only test students’ understanding of English grammar and their reading skills. Also, many Thai teachers find it difficult to teach English speaking skills since they don’t have a native accent. The consequence from this is thIMG_0489at after many years of learning English, Thai students still can’t speak English. After taking classes in the LTS program, I was enthusiastic to do something that could improve Thai students’ oral skills and help Thai teachers teach English oral skills with confidence and comfort. So, my project combined many activities that Thai teachers can use in their classrooms to help their students learn and practice oral skills. These activities have been adapted and designed especially for Thai students.

What did you find most valuable from the LTS program? What did you learn in LTS that are you using as a teacher now?

Since I didn’t have any background knowledge in the second language acquisition before I entered the program, everything seemed new to me. Right from the beginning, it was very useful to learn the different principles and methods of language teaching. For me, I grew up with Grammar Translation Method, so it was the only way of teaching and learning English that I knew. When I learned about CLT, Communicative Language Teaching, I was very excited and couldn’t wait to apply this method to my future classes. Another favorite class of mine was Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). I had so much fun exploring new technology that could help me teach. Nowadays, I still use some of the programs I learnt from that course in my classroom. As a teacher now, I have found myself using what I learnt from the Curriculum and Materials Development class most. Every semester I have fun creating new materials and supplements for my students based on current issues and on my students’ interests.

What did you find most challenging when you were a new teacher?

When I started teaching, I found that it was very difficult to stick to my class plan. Some activities took longer than I expected and it turned out that I couldn’t finish what I had planned at first. I also think that besides a teacher, students can make the class very enjoyable or so bland too. Some activities that I thought would be interesting to students turned to be boring. So, I had to make some changes right away. I also found that what works for some students doesn’t work for others. Some activities or teaching techniques may work well one semester, but don’t work at all the next semester with different groups of students. So it is important to find out what students like or are interested in as fast as I can to design the activities that suit them the most. 

What advice would you give current students in the program?

My advice from me will be that everyone should find the areas they are interested in the most as soon as they can, such as teaching, designing testing and assessment, or developing curriculum and materials. Because when they know your interest, they can make use of every class by doing assignments or reading something relating to it, and that will help them and their MA project a lot. Also, since the students in the LTS program are so diverse, they should take this opportunity to exchange their thoughts and experiences with their classmates who may come from different countries and culture in order to learn more and expand their knowledge.

 

 

November 17, 2015
by LTSblog
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Student Spotlight Seung Eun Kim

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SeungEun Kim is originally from Korea. Like Sue Yoon (see our earlier blog post in November), she is pursuing an MA in LTS and an MA in East Asian Languages and Literatures at the same time.

You were an English major before entering the LTS program. What attracted you to English?

English was the first language that I fell in love with. So majoring in English was the one thing that I really wanted to do no matter what. Since I like reading literature in both Korean and English, I wanted to spend my undergraduate years reading and exploring my thoughts about the books that I read, and being an English major really made my dreams come true. I was able to spend my years as an undergraduate reading a lot of books, but more importantly, I learned how to read literature from more critical perspectives. I am glad that I have a background in English literature from my years as an undergraduate since I believe it has prepared me for how I will go about educating my future (language) students.

Now you are doing two concurrent MA degrees in LTS and East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL). How did you shift over to a love of Korean as well?

Since being a foreign student here in America, I am proud that my national language of Korean is being taught here. I think my patriotism and love of my culture motivated me a lot to want to teach Korean. Also, as a bilingual speaker, I wanted to be more available to others who are learning Korean. Since I am a native speaker of Korean, I thought it would be great if I could be a source for those studying the language here.

What do you like best about teaching at the university?

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to teach Korean at a university in America. This opportunity has allowed me to collaborate with both international and American students together in my classes. Although my students are from different countries and cultures, and speak different languages, it has been great to see how they come together as Korean language speakers. When the students have the will to learn Korean, their passion for the language and love of Korean culture and literature really boost their improvement and are a great source of motivation. Moreover, teaching at the university is even more special to me because not only can I teach, but I can continuously increase my knowledge as well.

What is your idea for your MA project you will do in LTS?

I am interested in teaching language using literature. I am researching how literature as an authentic material should be used in the language classroom and appropriately chosen depending on the students’ language proficiencies.

What advice would you give applicants who might want to do concurrent MA degrees like you are?

The first advice I would give someone, based on my own experiences, is to believe in yourself when you are very busy and things are extremely stressful from all the classwork that you have to do. You need to stay strong, keep a positive outlook, and believe in yourself that you can do it.  Know that you are not alone, and that there are people like the LTS program director, your advisors, and other teachers who are here to help and support us.

November 12, 2015
by Annelise Marshall
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Student Spotlight: Sara Li

 

Sara Li (Chinese name Hsin-Jung, Li) is an LTS graduate student from Taiwan. She has 3 years of high school EFL teaching experiences and 5 years of educational administrative experiences and  loves language teaching and learning. unnamed (2)

Why did you choose to come to the UO for the LTS program?
 I chose to come to the UO for the LTS program because it provides rich language learning and teaching courses for future teachers of all kinds of languages. Apart from many other TESOL programs in the United States, the LTS program stands out because it is an intense program with integrative courses in linguistics and pedagogy.
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Tell me about your work with the Chinese club?
Thanks to Dr. Yerian’s suggestion, I joined the Chinese Language and Culture Club (CLCC) this term as one of the three Chinese teachers in the Chinese club. We design a Chinese course for 3-5 graders in Edison elementary school, who show interest in learning Chinese and some of whom have family members from Chinese speaking countries. The purpose of this Chinese club is for students to enjoy learning Chinese language and culture. In the fall term the theme of the course is Daily Life in China, and the topics include basic Chinese greeting, Chinese etiquette, Chinese pictographic, body parts, famous sports in China, and many useful sentence structures. Every week we co-design and co-teach a 105 minute class, and we implement many interactive group activities to facilitate students’ comprehension and learning motivation.
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 What has been most rewarding about working with the Chinese club?unnamed (1)
This is my first time teaching both Chinese and elementary school students, so it has been quite a special and inspiring experience. This teaching experience allows me to reexamine my understanding of Chinese language and culture, and I find students’ genuine feedback, enthusiasm and curiosity in Chinese language and culture really motivating and rewarding. I am often surprised at how much they already know about Chinese and how much more they would like to learn. It has been a blessing to be their teacher to guide and participate in their learning process.
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What is one thing that you’re looking forward to in your remaining time in LTS?
I would really love to spend more time with my LTS cohort, all of whom are supportive, innovative, and compassionate about language teaching. Looking back at the past 5 months, we have had so much fun in class where our ideas emerge and took off like rockets, as well as out of class where we share our beliefs, cuisine, and love for each other and language education. There are many things that I look forward to, such as intensive in-class discussion, group collaboration, useful seminars and lectures, doing the MA project, and many more times to hang out and form dreams. Coming to UO for the LTS program has been one of the wisest choices I have ever made.

November 10, 2015
by LTSblog
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Faculty Spotlight Lucien Brown (East Asian Languages & Literatures)

Lucien photoHow are you connected to the LTS program?

I teach courses on Korean and East Asian linguistics in the department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL). LTS students who are interested in teaching East Asian language often take our courses as electives, and I sometimes advise LTS final projects. Also, we currently have two students who are doing concurrent MA degrees in LTS and Korean Linguistics and Pedagogy in EALL.

Are the classes you teach related to your own research?

Very much so! I’m interested in socio-cultural language learning and teaching, and I incorporate these perspectives into my second language acquisition and pedagogy classes, such as EALL 542 Second Language Acquisition of Chinese, Japanese and Korean and EALL 543 Chinese/Japanese/Korean Pedagogy. I also research multimodal aspects of politeness in Korean, which relates to my class EALL 586 East Asian Sociopragmatics.

What advice would you give to applicants who are considering a concurrent MA degree in EALL?

First, remember that the EALL deadline for grad admission is earlier than the LTS date (EALL January 1, whereas LTS is February 15)!

In your application it is really important to articulate a clear reason for wanting to do a concurrent degree and be a member of both programs. From our side, we really want to see a clear reason or goal for wanting to study Korean linguistics and pedagogy.

Many Korean students who apply to LTS focus on English language teaching (EFL), but some of them also become interested in teaching Korean. Why do you think this happens?

In Korea, the idea of foreign language teaching is focused so much on Koreans needing to learn English, and the awareness that people from other countries need to learn Korean is not so high. But coming here broadens student’s horizons. Korean students get to know about our strong Korean language program, and meet students who are learning Korean as a second language, possibly for the first time. They get to see the importance and value of Korean language education. Besides, even if you plan to become an English teacher, having experience of teaching your native language (Korean) will give you a different perspective on what it means to teach and learn a second language.

What do you enjoy about working with graduate students?

November 5, 2015
by Annelise Marshall
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Student Spotlight: Sue Yoon

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Sue Yoon is originally from Korea and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and the Certificate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) at the U of O. She is now working on concurrent MA degrees in Linguistics LTS and East Asian Languages and Literatures.

You are doing concurrent MA degrees in both Linguistics with a language teaching specialization (LTS) and East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL). Can you tell us why you chose to do both degrees? How do you benefit from each department?

I got my undergraduate degree in linguistics from the University of Oregon and wished to continue studying linguistic characteristics of my native language in depth. I believed that having sufficient knowledge of linguistics would benefit me as a language teacher, which has always been a dream of mine, so I decided to apply to the M.A. Korean linguistics and pedagogy program at the University of Oregon as well as to LTS. I really enjoyed learning different language teaching techniques and approaches from a variety of LT courses at the undergraduate level, and they helped me broaden my perspective of language teaching to a large extent. I certainly benefit from both programs in many different ways. They perfectly match my areas of interest and allow me to develop a deeper understanding of language teaching and the Korean language system in order to become a more successful Korean language teacher. It is also intriguing to learn both theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge from the two programs.

 

What do you like best about teaching at the university?

There are a number of benefits of being a language GTF at the University of Oregon. First of all, I can gain professional knowledge about my fields of interest and more teaching experience simultaneously during my graduate studies. I also find it very helpful to apply what I have learned from the LT courses to my own teaching as the LT courses have certainly helped me understand what makes a good language teacher. Moreover, learning various aspects of the Korean language system from EALL (East Asian languages and literatures) courses helps me to better explain features of the Korean language to my students in the most effective manner when teaching at the university. Finally, I am so glad that I got the chance to meet my awesome students who are learning Korean at the University of Oregon!

 

For you, what is similar or different about teaching English vs. teaching Korean?

I have taught both English and Korean at a few different places in Korea and the U.S. I found teaching English quite different from teaching Korean. As I was teaching Korean, I have realized that being a native speaker of the language does not mean that it is easier to understand the language system. I learned English as my second language, and this helps me identify and understand areas of potential difficulty faced by learners of English as I underwent the same language learning. I usually feel more comfortable and confident when teaching Korean as it is my native language, but it is sometimes quite difficult to provide my learners with what they really need in order to understand a specific aspect of the language and understand their problems and difficulties from their perspective. However, I have really enjoyed the experience of teaching both languages!

 

What advice would you give applicants who might want to do concurrent MA degrees like you are?

There are a lot of great courses provided at the University of Oregon, and I believe that being able to do a concurrent MA degree can help students further broaden their knowledge in two different areas of study that they are interested in. It has been a wonderful experience taking a variety of courses and meeting such a great group of people in the two programs!

 

November 2, 2015
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Mylece Burling

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Mylece Burling received her BA degree from UO with a major in Romance languages in Portuguese and Spanish. She joined LTS in 2012 and graduated in 2013. Her MA project was titled, “A Teaching Portfolio of Workshop Tasks for Brazilian English Teachers Applying for the HE/Capes Scholarship”. She is shown here (on right, as Malificent, the evil stepmother of Snow White) with another teacher and some of her students at Halloween.

What was your MA project about?

My MA project was a teaching portfolio of English language tasks for English teachers in Brazil. The objective was to help non-native English teachers to navigate the pragmatic and linguistic language barriers of the scholarship application, in order to enable them to continue their professional development as English teachers.

What did you learn in LTS that are you using as a teacher now?

LTS has helped me to begin to develop the ability to effectively select activities and plan lessons that are relevant and useful for my students. It provided a framework that I have been using as a way to structure my lessons. It has helped me to organize and analyze my teaching in a way that I can view my lessons objectively, evaluate and try to change and improve.

What did you find most challenging as a new teacher?

Student motivation. Of course as a new teacher my lessons could be more effective; however, if students are not also somewhat self-motivated they will not learn. The importance of student motivation was something I could not understand without real life teaching experience and it is something I wish I would have spent more time on during LTS. Inspiring one’s students to teach themselves is the ultimate goal of any teacher.

You are now teaching English in Spain, but also pursuing other interests dear to your heart. Can you describe what you are doing, and why you chose Spain?

I first came to Spain through the “Auxiliares de Conversación” program and taught English to all levels in a public elementary school for one year in the city of La Coruña, in the Northwest of Spain. Currently I am teaching English part time at a private academy in Madrid. I teach all levels and all ages from primary to retired adults, absolute beginners to nearly bilingual. Due to the economic situation in Spain many citizens are searching for work outside the country. As English is the language used for communication among citizens of different countries for matters of business and tourism, there is a high demand for English education in Spain. My LTS degree has been indispensable in finding work here as it provides access to better positions in better schools.

In addition to my work I am also studying sculpture at one of the official state-sponsored art schools, for which I moved to the capital, Madrid. After this first year I intend to specialize in wood or stone. Europe is the basis of the history of Western civilization and art. Being in this environment has contributed to my continuing education of art history, providing inspiration and a solid background for my artwork. I intend to stay in school as long as possible, though it has proved considerably more challenging to study art on a professional level than I originally thought.

I also enjoy rock climbing which has been popular in Spain since the birth of the sport in France and is world famous for its limestone cliffs in the northeastern mountain ranges. Last year I was able to find more time to travel and climb, while this year it has been hard to find time for everything.

What advice to you have for current or prospective LTS students?

My advice to current and prospective LTS students is not to forget the importance of your peers as a resource. While you are together try to learn as much as possible from one another.

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