Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

December 17, 2015
by LTSblog

Faculty Spotlight Robert Davis (Romance Languages)

Robert Davis is professor of Spanish and Director of Language Instruction in the Department of Romance Languages. From 2009 to 2014, he was the director of the Middlebury at Mills Spanish School (at Mills College, Oakland CA), a language immersion program of the Middlebury Language Schools.

What is your connection to LTS students/the LTS program?

As one of the applied linguists on campus, I collaborate with the LTS faculty and occasionally have LTS students in my classes on Spanish linguistics. We have also had LTS students in Romance Languages as Graduate Teaching Fellows, and it has been a pleasure to work with these students who are so motivated to become language teachers. We are working on promoting the idea of a concurrent LTS-Romance Languages degree, which would offer students a GTF position while they complete two MAs in the two departments.

Could you tell us about your work in language pedagogy and Spanish linguistics?

My training was in both formal and applied linguistics, and since coming to UO, I have focused on applied topics. My specialty is the creation of language learning materials within the frameworks of content-based instruction and interculturality.

What do you enjoy most about working with graduate students? 

I always learn so much from my graduate students! In my most recent methods class, they designed action research projects that touched on topics from diverse learning styles to improving pair/group interactions in the L2 classroom. Their passion and hard work are always inspiring to me, and it’s a honor to be able to prepare the next generation of language teaching professionals.

What do you think is most important for new language teachers to remember? (video response below)


December 10, 2015
by Annelise Marshall

Winter Vacation

With finals week wrapping up LTS students are busy… planning their vacations! Here’s what some of the LTS students have planned:

Emily: I will be making and eating pizzelle (an Italian waffle cookie), reading as many books as possible, and awaiting the release of Star Wars VII.

Javid: I will be going to San Diego and LA to get some sunshine.

Joliene: I’ll see the ocean for the first time in a half decade, reinstall the brakes on my custom made pirate themed bike, & hone my Ichishkíin pronunciation. I already have the first croquet game of the winter season all lined up too.

Annelise: I’ll be doing lots of reading (hopefully some of it for my MA project)! I love the holiday season, so I’ll be decorating, baking cookies, and checking out some of the Christmas lights in Eugene.

Katie: Skiing! 

Juli: I am itching to tear obnoxious bamboo out of my backyard to make room for a garden. I have a stack of books that are itching to be read. And I have two feet that are itching to run miles in and out of Eugene.

Kateland:  I’m just going to enjoy reading for my project, cuddling my cats, and not doing homework.

Anna: Snowboarding in WA and sunshine (hopefully) in AZ!

Christopher: I will be cleaning my house, and making/eating soup. There’s also the outside chance that I’ll be working on the unrelenting zookeeper routine I’ve been developing since my time in Africa.

Becky: I’m hoping to design more of my game but in reality I’ll probably play Guess Who with my kid and take naps all day every day until Google Calendar tells me it’s time for school again.

Maggie: Hanging with my mama in Eugene and train/road-tripping to CA and back with Peace Corps comrades.


December 8, 2015
by LTSblog

Alumni profile: Richard Niyibigira

Richard Niyibigira was a Fulbright recipient who graduated in 2014. His project was titled “ESP Course Design for the Tourism and Hospitality Industry in Rwanda”.

IMG_7731What and where are you teaching now?

Today, I teach English and communication skills at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC)-Kigali. It is a college situated in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda in Africa.

Tell us about your leadership responsibilities now.

Apart from my teaching responsibilities, I am an active founder member of the Association of Teachers of English in Rwanda (ATER) that started in 2008. I served as the Head of Professional Development and Partnership for ATER since my arrival from the UO until recently when I was elected by the General Assembly as the president of the Association. Today, ATER has approximately 100 primary and secondary teacher beneficiaries in the 5 of 30 districts of Rwanda.  The teachers receive a series of workshops and trainings for free in their Communities of Practice. The trainings are conducted by ATER members and an English Language Fellow (ELF) offered to ATER by the US Embassy in Kigali. Some of my achievements within the association as the Head of professional development and Partnerships are organizing the first ATER annual conference, the 1st US Embassy Access Microscholarship Program Conference and organizing workshops to teachers through their communities of practice.

Did your LTS MA project relate to what you are doing now?

My MA project is certainly related to what I am doing now. My LTS project was an ESP (English for Specific Purposes) course design for the tourism and hospitality industry. Although the specific course I designed has not been used in any school yet, the knowledge I gained through designing that course served me a lot in my job today. I conducted a workshop to revise a course called “English for Technology” within IPRC Kigali. Although the course was there since a long time ago, its content was in no way different from that of General English. We revised the course to make it specific to students in their different departments and in relation to their specific needs.

IMG_5283Are there any other important developments in your life ?

Apart from my professional life, I have also made some personal and social developments since I left beautiful Eugene. I got married three months after I left Eugene and now I have a 3.5-month-old son. I have a beautiful and happy family that I am proud of.  And yes, I got my driver’s license now, after trying to get it three times with failure when I was in Eugene!

Do you have any advice for current or future LTSers?

My advice to current and future LTSers is:

  1. Work as a group not as individuals: The LTS life does not end in class. One of the things that helped me enjoy my time in Eugene is the relationship with my LTS colleagues! You may find the courses hard and with very tight schedules sometimes. The only way you can go through that efficiently is to include your colleagues in your journey to the completion of the program. Do some self-studies together and have fun after class. Enjoy the beauty of Eugene and surroundings.
  2. Do your MA project in something you REALLY like! The terminal project process is a long and hard one. It might either take you longer to complete or make you quit before completion if you are working on something you don’t understand and like.
  3. Do NOT forget to visit the coast with your cohort! It’s so much fun.


December 3, 2015
by Annelise Marshall

Student Spotlight: Christopher Daradics


“This photo caught me in the act of describing exactly how one goes about catching a unique rabbit. I’m a repeat grad student (MA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College) with a strong bias for visual communication and design. I love soup, cleaning my house, and find myself playing unrelenting zookeeper to the various wildlife I encounter lurking around my neighborhood.”– Christopher Daradics

Why did you choose to enter the LTS program?
After teaching, in one form or another, for over a decade I’d never felt entirely satisfied being constrained to a single context. I was looking for a way to integrate my passion for teaching with my other major life interests: international travel; graphic, communication, and experience design; and language(s). The LTS program presented itself as an opportunity to integrate my core strengths and passions and work my way towards a career in curriculum design.
What is it like doing the LTS program with years of experience teaching in a different context?
Wow, this is a tough question to answer. It’s both orienting and disorienting, I guess. Often in life I find myself approaching things from an unconventional position, my teaching practice included. Although I see this as one of my strengths, having a creative mind and strong point of view, the LTS program is grounding me in the professional context and community of international language education. Another way of putting it would be to say that the LTS program is affirming and building on what I’m good at while at the same time bolstering and filling in the gaps where I need some work.
Tell us about your internship this term.
This term I had the distinct privilege of interning with the American English Institute on campus in an English for Academic Purposes writing course. Much like my last answer, it’s been encouraging to see how directly my experience teaching in other contexts translates to this setting. Along the same lines,  it has been a huge delight to work with such talented and professional folks at the AEI.
What are you most looking forward to in your remaining time in the program?
The truth of it is, I’m having a blast. Classes have been great, our instructors are phenomenal, there are some upcoming electives that I’m hoping will blow my mind. But, it would be a lie to not say, loud and clear, that I’m most looking forward to digging into my capstone project. I can hardly stop thinking about it, and not because I’m stressed, but because I’m so dang excited. Like I said before, I’ve come to this program in order to integrate my primary passions and my capstone project is doing just that.


December 1, 2015
by Misaki Kato

Alumni Spotlight: Marcella Roberts

Marcella with her students in Switzerland.

Marcella with her students in Switzerland.

Marcella Roberts graduated from LTS in 2010. Her MA Project was titled: Pronunciation for Integrated Skills English Courses: A Teaching Portfolio. Below, she shares how she has used things that she learned in LTS in many different teaching contexts.

Where did you teach after graduating from the LTS MA program, and where are you now?

Since graduating, I’ve taught both in the U.S. and abroad in Switzerland and China. Immediately after finishing the LTS program in August 2010, I taught at the American English Institute (at the U of O) for one year. After that I moved to Switzerland, where I taught on and off for three years at a residential summer camp for children aged 10-17 from many countries all over the world. I also taught for one semester at Arizona State University (between summers in Switzerland), and then taught at a university in China for 8 months in 2014. As of September 2014, I’ve been teaching in the INTO Intensive English Program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR.

Is there anything you use in your teaching now that you first learned in LTS? 

Definitely. The focus on Communicative Language Teaching, as well as all the practice developing curriculum and materials, has continued to help me throughout my career as a teacher. When I was teaching in Switzerland, I was given a class of students and pretty much no guidance on what to teach except for an estimate of their level. I therefore had to draw on all of my practice and knowledge learned in LTS with needs analyses, adapting, creating and using materials, as well as ways to make language learning authentic, communicative and fun for students. Throughout the rest of my teaching experience, which has been in university programs, where more guidance, materials and textbooks have usually been provided, the basic language acquisition and teaching principles that I encountered in the LTS program have still been invaluable.

What was your MA project about, and did you apply it later in your teaching?

My MA project focused on pronunciation, and specifically how to integrate it into classes focused on other skills (or on integrated skills). To do the project, I had to really delve into pronunciation and learn about it in depth, which has definitely helped me in my teaching experience since graduating. While teaching in Switzerland, I often did pronunciation focused lessons, as well as integrated it into other content and skill focused lessons. During the time I was teaching in China, I developed a four week mini course on pronunciation for university students, which included a focus on the International Phonetic Alphabet and in depth practice of segmentals and suprasegmentals. Since having started teaching at INTO OSU, I’ve also taught specific pronunciation elective courses, during which I’ve drawn on, and added to, the experience and knowledge I gained while doing my MA project all those years ago.

What was most challenging for you as a new teacher?

It was challenging at first to have the confidence in myself as a teacher to be able to adapt my original lesson plans to what was happening in the classroom. Through experience, I’ve learned that sometimes going with the flow, adapting activity lengths, and responding to questions or issues as they arise can be more beneficial than rigidly sticking with a lesson plan even when it’s not working. But this definitely took time for me to realize, as well as time to understand how to do it in a way that helps students and keeps everyone focused and learning.

Marcella with some of her cohort at graduation in August 2010. She is the one in the middle top of the photo.

Marcella with some of her cohort at graduation in August 2010. She is the one in the middle top of the photo.

What advice do you have for students looking for language teaching positions after graduation?

Use your time in the LTS program to learn and share with such a wonderfully diverse group of students from all over the world. Many of the language teaching positions (especially in teaching English) are in countries all over the world and knowing something about countries other than your own, as well as being willing to travel and/or live abroad, will be valuable assets in finding rewarding teaching positions.

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