LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

February 22, 2016
by LTSblog
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Faculty Spotlight Julie Sykes

Julie M. Sykes is the Director of the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (casls.uoregon.edu) at the University of Oregon. In the LTS program, she teaches courses on the teaching and learning of second language pragmatics and technology and language learning.

How are you connected to LTS?

 

For this post, I thought it would be fun to play some word association to start.

Language: people, the world, communication

Teaching: fun, rewarding, challenging

LTS: amazing students and colleagues, fostering amazing teachers

CASLS: great place to work

UO: beautiful, outdoors, green, Go Ducks!

Innovation: important, exciting, whiteboards are critical!

What are you teaching?

In Winter, I typically teach LT610: Second Language Pragmatics, a course in which we explore the ways meaning is communicated through language. In doing so, we examine our own communication practices as well as ways to help learners build their communication skills through the interpretation and expression of intended meaning. For example, did you know speakers of Spanish typically refuse an invitation three times or that the expression “Hey, we should have coffee sometime.” Isn’t typically intended as an invitation.

 

How does what you teach connect to your research?

My research examines the ways we can utilize innovative tools and techniques to foster second language pragmatic development. Our (and by our, I mean the amazing team of people I get to work with on a daily basis) two most recent projects have examined the impact of using synthetic immersive environments and place-based augmented reality games for the learning and teaching of L2 pragmatics. You can check out more about some of these projects through Mentira (http://www.mentira.org/the-game), Ecopod (https://casls.uoregon.edu/student-programs/residential-immersion/) and Games2Tach (games2teach.uoregon.edu).

 

What do you like about working with graduate students?

Pretty much everything. They are passionate, interesting, dedicated, and focused on the goal at hand. The classroom (used to mean buildings, neighborhoods, offices, coffee shops) is one of my favorite places to be. I am really grateful for a job I love. Students are a huge part of that!

February 18, 2016
by Annelise Marshall
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Student Spotlight: Annelise

Annelise Marshall is interested in student life and learner engagement. When she’s not in class or working with ESL students she enjoys rock climbing, hiking, reading, and cooking.

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Annelise at Oregon’s famous Crater Lake

What is your internship context?

This term I’m working with a beginning ESL class at Lane Community College. I’ve spent some time with various classes at the AEI, so it’s been really interesting to be in an environment that’s so different.

What is most challenging about your internship?

This is my first time working with complete beginners, and it can be very different from working with more advanced students. I’m often able to answer student questions in Spanish, but I’ve had to learn new strategies for communicating with students who speak a language I don’t share. Luckily I’m working with an experienced teacher who is great at working with beginning students, so it’s really been a great learning opportunity for me.

What has been most rewarding about your internship?

Getting to know the students and seeing them progress. It’s an evening class, so many of the students are older or have full time jobs. They are working really hard just to make it to class, so it’s really exciting to see their work pay off.

What are you most looking forward to in your remaining time in LTS?

The class of 2016 turned in our proposals earlier this month, so soon we’ll be able to get into the thick of it. I’m looking forward to digging deeper into my topic, and also hearing more about everyone else’s projects.

 

 

February 16, 2016
by megt
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LTS Alumni Spotlight: Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay DeLand graduated from the LTS Program in 2014 and immediately began teaching in Japan. Her MA project was titled “Graphic Novels as Motivating Authentic Texts for Adult English Language Learners”.

Graduation Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay (on right) on commencement day 2014 at the University of Oregon with cohort members Richard Niyibigira and Sejin Kim.

Where are you working now, and what are you teaching?

I work at Tokyo International University in Kawagoe, Japan. I teach mostly speaking and listening skills to Japanese undergraduate students, but I also teach an academic composition class to international undergraduates from a number of different countries. It’s a blast!

Kyoto Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay in Japan

What do you like best about what you do?

I love that I get to make so many meaningful relationships with so many amazing students. For me, all the interaction with different people is the best part of the teaching job. I’ve learned a lot from my students, and I’ve gotten to watch them learn and grow a lot as well.

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching (or life) now?

I learned how to design a curriculum, which has been invaluable to me since starting at TIU. Before the LTS program, I wouldn’t have had any idea how to go about planning a class when you’re just given a textbook and total freedom! It’s still a challenge for me, but I’m improving with practice, and I’m grateful for the foundation in curriculum design I got at Oregon.

Poster Presentation Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay presenting her action research at Thailand TESOL International this year.

Looking back, what advice would you give current or future LTS students?

Both while you’re a graduate student and when you become a full-time teacher, remember to make time for yourself on top of your work and studies. Teaching is a great job but it’s also very stressful and can be all-consuming. If you don’t find a way to balance a healthy and happy personal life on top of your work life, work will feel a lot harder! When I was an LTS student, I often studied with friends from my cohort to make the workload feel easier, and we regularly got together for fun to keep each other sane. Now, even when my semesters are busy, I make sure to do at least one fun and rewarding activity a week, like exploring a new part of Tokyo or just spending time with friends. It helps me refresh my brain so I can better tackle my job!

February 8, 2016
by megt
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LTS faculty friend spotlight: Ted Adamson, American English Institute

Ted Adamson is an instructor at the American English Institute who is supervising a small group of LTS students this Winter term who are co-teaching a class for international students at the AEI. He observes every class and provides guidance and feedback.

What is most interesting about supervising this course for you as a teacher-educator?

One of the brilliant features of this practicum is that regularly scheduled reflection is designed right into it. When you’re in the field and you’re teaching a full course load, you’re not always doing as much reflection as you would like. So for me, having the chance to observe four highly motivated teachers in action has been a catalyst for my own reflection. We all need to revisit those old assumptions and shake up our patterns and habits.

What other things do you do as faculty in the American English Institute?

I’ve been lucky enough to serve on the Intensive English Program (IEP) Assessment Subcommittee (ASC) with Tom Delaney, Nancy Elliott and many others. The ASC attempts to help ensure that assessment practices in the IEP are valid and reliable. I’ve worked as the lead teacher for English-Prep Oral Skills many times since 2012. In that time, I’ve been lucky enough to have a robust LTS graduate student presence in the class: both long and short-term observers and a wonderful intern in Fall 2015. More recently, I’ve designed and taught an AEI elective course called Teaching Vocabulary From Movies for lower level students in the IEP. The course meets for 2 hours per week, during which time we use entire motion pictures as primary texts for the purpose of developing language.

What was your own path to the UO?

I got my start in ESL through a series of volunteer opportunities and jobs in K-12 education in my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In that time, I worked extensively with immigrant and refugee populations in high school, junior high and adult education settings. I worked as a technology proctor, a substitute teacher, a tutor and an unlicensed social studies teacher before going back to get my M.Ed. I did a working summer in New York City in 2006. This was my introduction to the world of the language institute. I then spent 4 years teaching at Global Language Institute, a wonderful IEP in St. Paul, MN. My wife and I relocated to Eugene in 2011, at which time I began my work at the AEI.

What do you think is most important for new language teachers to learn or experience?

Having the chance to conduct classroom observations came immediately to mind. I’d advise new language teachers to visit as many different classrooms as possible. Seeing different instructors implementing different objectives with different learners is an absolute boon. I never pass up the chance to observe another teacher. There’s never an instance where I fail to come away with one or two nuggets of insight. It could be something as straightforward as an idea for classroom systems or a lesson plan. More often than not, I leave an observation with a basketful of ideas. And sometimes, you come away thinking, “Wow, I feel like I really got a sense of what this person stands for, as an educator.” This is one of the things that I love about our profession: that a profound experience like that can come out of a simple classroom visit.

February 4, 2016
by sdeng@uoregon.edu
1 Comment

Student Spotlight: Javid

Javid is a Fulbrighter from Afghanistan. He completed his undergraduate degree in English language teaching at the School of Education in Herat University. He is passionate about teaching English and loves drawing, traveling, and playing badminton. He is currently a member of Toastmasters International club at the University of Oregon, enhancing his public speaking and leadership skills.

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How did you come here?

Upon my graduation from college in 2013, I was nominated for the E-Teacher Scholarship Program, an online course sponsored by the US Embassy, Kabul, in coordination with the American English Institute at the University of Oregon. This 10-week long online course titled “Introduction to pedagogy and practices for teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” focused on TESOL methodology as well as different aspects and modules of teaching English language. While studying this course, I was also in the process of applying for the Fulbright scholarship through which I was able to pursue my master’s degree in one of the universities in the United States. I found the E-teacher scholarship a very helpful and effective program that broadened my understanding of TESOL Methods and Principles and really enjoyed studying that course. Therefore, I choose the University of Oregon as my first preference among the three on my Fulbright application.

What is your project about?

My project is “Developing academic writing: a project-based course design for EFL Afghan university students.” I am very excited to complete this course and hopefully implement it when I return to Afghanistan.

How has your LTS experience been and what did you like the most?

It has been a wonderful experience so far. The highlight of the program for me has been the internship opportunities. I interned in a level 5 oral skills class at the AEI in my first year and now I am involved with co-teaching an elective for AEI students called Talking with Ducks II. It has been an exceptional experience and I have learned many things both from the co-teachers and the supervising teacher. We receive individual constructive feedback after teaching a class and self-evaluate our instruction to become better the next time we teach. Moreover, developing materials, activities and lesson plans and implementing them in the class has extensively enhanced my teaching skills. I am looking forward to other internship opportunities in the next two terms that I am here.

 

 

February 2, 2016
by megt
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LTS Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Chen-Mao Wang

Daniel Chen-Mao Wang graduated from the LTS program in 2008. His project was titled “Rethinking the Teaching of Beginning Reading: The Role of Reader’s Theater in the Taiwanese EFL Curriculum”.

Daniel (center) with his cohort in 2008

Why did you originally decide to study in the US?

Before I applied to the LTS program in 2008, I had been teaching in a public elementary school for a few years with a BA degree in Language and Literature Education in Taiwan. After a few years of mundane teaching that literally drained my inspiration, I started to look for graduate studies to both enrich my teaching career and energize my life of learning as a practicing teacher. The LTS program at the UO stood out as one of few programs that catered to my needs. The quarterly system guaranteed me very intensive five-term solid training and studying that my home country could never offer. When I read and compared many graduate programs, few addressed both the pedagogical and theoretical issues at the same time in their plan of graduate studies. While the course titles of many distinguished TESOL programs mostly featured on the theoretical issues, few stressed the pedagogical phase of language learning. With an educational background, I was certain that I wanted to be a practitioner but yet undecided for a theoretical route. Therefore, the LTS program gave me greater flexibility to take the courses I was interested in as a language trainer. Meanwhile, as LTS was in a Linguistics Department, this enabled me to associate with PhD students and participate in Professor Susan Guion Anderson’s advanced second language acquisition class. Although the LTS program was not fully research-based, the practical but research-oriented program design laid the groundwork for later research-based projects and presented me with opportunities to observe, learn, and experience a “scaffolded, elicited, and formative” language learning class. This helped me a great deal in my current job as an EFL elementary school teacher and adjunct assistant professor at the National Kaohsiung Normal University.

Where and what are you teaching now?

Less than half a year after graduating from the UO, I began the journey of being a full-time teacher and doctoral student at National Kaohsiung Normal University. I was fortunate enough to establish all the ground work at the UO with LTS and LING, and this experience has made me who I am now. My doctoral dissertation, titled “Effectiveness of a Reader’s Theater Project on English Silent Reading and Prosodic Reading Performance of Sixth-graders in Southern Taiwan”, took root in the framework of the project I did in the LTS program and used the phonetic analysis tool, Praat, that Dr. Pashby introduced in her pronunciation class.

Daniel in a recent photo with his family

Currently, with a PhD in TESOL, I also work with Taiwanese local college students teaching them Freshman English. The days nourished by the LTS program become the nutrients. The LTS program gave students the open space to develop and experiment with their teaching ideas, innovative or extended. In addition, the cohort format made us learn from each other, brainstorm many great ideas, and work all angles to possibly solve the issues language teachers faced on a day-to-day basis. Serving as a teacher of college students, I now still go back to my graduate assignment work to seek inspiration and I still keep in mind the very lesson that LTS taught me so well—analyzing students’ learning needs. Without the nourishment of LTS, I cannot imagine being the person I am now.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the pleasure of teaching because I like to associate with people and especially with students. Many people regarded teaching jobs as repetitious and laborious, while I appreciate the beauty of individual difference and students’ willingness to learn and improve. Last year, I had classes with first-graders up to college freshmen. They were a huge range in population, but I experience the fun and joy to see the spark in their eyes when they find language learning interesting and are willing to go the extra mile to learn with the teacher. As a language teacher, I can always practice what I believe, and experiment with all kinds of variables to motivate my students and enhance their proficiency in English as a global language.

Looking back, what do you think was most valuable about your time in Oregon and LTS?

Three things stick to my mind during the days I was in Oregon: a) the live language teaching observations, b) the freedom to choose interesting courses from other departments, and c) the supportive learning and advising atmosphere.

To begin with, I benefited so much by writing observation journals about many language teaching classes. Given the privilege to sit in class and observe what the teacher did, I witnessed how language teachers deal with the teaching issues with students at different language levels and with different language backgrounds. I ended up observing very diverse types of language classes: Howard Elementary School’s reading class, a South Eugene High School’s English literature class, and a college-level CFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language) class. It was as good as I could wish for—to see what is demonstrated in a real class—more effective than any workshop or lecture could have been.

Secondly, I adored being given a few flexible time slots to take courses from other departments. I remembered that I attended a pedagogical grammar class, a culture diversity class, and a statistics class offered by the School of Education. Those classes required me to interact with the native speaking college students on education-related issues and develop educational professionalism. This experience enriched my career path and helped me become not only a professional “language teacher” but also a professional “educator”.

Lastly, the supportive learning environment in UO and LTS has made this adventure rewarding and worth admiring. Looking back, I enjoyed the time to work with the international cohort and hang out with each other outside the campus. The combination of students in LTS was like no other on campus. It was made up of experienced teachers, students with language learning interests, and ESL teacher wanna-bes, NNS or NS alike. Because of this mix, a lot of negotiation was involved. You needed to pay attention to listen, mentally process, comprehend, clarify, and then react to others in the classes because they were from all different backgrounds. Each person interpreted things in a different way. To be participatory, you had to put yourself into their shoes, consider from their perspectives to understand what they were trying to express, and then provide your own opinions. But the beautiful thing was: the more positively you interacted with one another, the better and closer relationship you built with your cohort. We felt like a family in this foreign country and the camaraderie support brought us together. A similar positive atmosphere was also between the teachers and the students. I always valued, although scared to death at that moment, the advisory office hours with each faculty member. The teachers did feel distant and authoritative; they were actually very helpful and considerate. They offered academic advice, helped clarify some thoughts on studies, suggested directions to do a term paper, etc. I talked to most of the teachers privately in office hours and I guaranteed what I say is true. The friendliness and thoughtfulness was not something you could only find in your imagination. It was genuinely felt.

What advice would you give to current or future LTS students?

LTS seems to be a program that is too good to be true. However, you have to keep in mind that this is a five-quarter program. Basically, you will have to squeeze the length and endure the intensity of five semesters into 15 months in order to fulfill all the requirements. Some take longer than 15 months to accomplish it. In order to make the most of your time and enjoy the intensity, my suggestions are:

  1. Start early to collect research literature that interests you.
  2. Frequent the library and establish your personal teacher resource library.
  3. Read the assigned readings and be a productive contributor in classes.
  4. Take advantage of every opportunity to make friends (or to know more people).
  5. Experiment with what you believe is feasible in your future language classes and explore it with back up literature.

With all these things to do in fifteen months, this short journey is going to be like a sealed time capsule—it will store valuable and memorable events and keep you rejuvenated every time you look back!

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