Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

March 31, 2016
by megt

Faculty Research Spotlight: Anna Mikhaylova

Anna Mikhaylova is faculty in the Linguistics Department whose research focuses on second and heritage language acquisition and bilingualism. She is teaching LT 611 MA Project I this term.



How are you connected to the LTS program?

My biggest connection to the LTS program is through the projects that LTS students develop as a capstone of their degree. In the past four years I have taught the first of the MA Project (LT 611) course series. It has been exciting and rewarding to watch each student develop their ideas into a well-developed and well-researched argument and create a foundation for their final product (teaching or materials portfolio, course design, or an action research project, which they would be developing in the second course of the series). I have also enjoyed teaching Second Language Teaching Planning (LT 536) and serving as advisor and reader for several MA projects.

What other classes do you teach?

The Second Language Acquisition courses (LING 544 and LING 644) and graduate seminars on Bilingualism and Heritage Language Acquisition, which I teach for the General Linguistics MA and PhD program, have also been open to LTS students. It certainly has been a privilege to have LTS students provide a language teacher’s perspective and insight the theoretical discussions we have had in the LING classes. And I also pride myself in the fact that several MA projects were supported by the readings or even grounded in the research projects LTS students developed in those Linguistics classes.

What is your research about?

Much of my work has tackled finding an empirical and theory-based explanation to the observation that both foreign (FL) and heritage language (HL) speakers have a particularly difficult time with target-like use and successful comprehension of functional morphology. A recent exciting project bridges an important gap in research by focusing on K-12 rather than college-level FL and HL learners. This study of oral narratives collected at the beginning and end of an intensive Russian dual immersion program throws light on language maintenance and effects of re-exposure in international adoptees. My latest project, still in progress, has involved by far the most participants and has the most immediate implications for instruction. We have so far tested 314 FL learners and 35 HL learners of Spanish to see whether low-intermediate learners are able to fully comprehend meaning of a text while attending to grammatical form (or whether such a task is too taxing). In the photo, are my research assistants in the Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab, Joana Kraski and Aleya Elkins, working through the hundreds of test packets.

Research Assistants busy at work.

Research Assistants busy at work.

March 15, 2016
by LTSblog

LTS Faculty Spotlight Belinda Young-Davy

Belinda Young-Davy has been teaching in the LTS Program since it began in 2004. She is also faculty in the American English Institute (AEI).

How are you connected to the LTS program?

I teach the Second Language Teaching Methods class (LT 435/535), and have also taught the Assessment class (LT 549). I really enjoy teaching methods because it gives students who are about to embark on a language teaching career a sense of the history of the field. It also introduces them to the complexity of language learning in a way they may not have thought of before.  The assessment class in also an eye opening experience. Most academic classes, including language classes, still rely heavily on traditional testing such as multiple choice, fill-in the blanks, etc. The assessment course illustrates how to think outside the box when assessing students, and come up with effective, interesting and even fun ways to assess students. The class is also an opportunity to get ideas about how to include students’ input in the assessment process.

What other classes do you teach?

I teach academic writing and oral discourse for the AEIS (Academic English for International Students), which is an English language support program for matriculated students. I find teaching writing very interesting because students are not just learning techniques. They are learning how to examine and explore other people’s ideas in a way that may give them insights into other cultures, their own culture, and themselves. In fact, it is not unusual to find that the shy, quiet student who sits in the back of the classroom and is cautious about sharing ideas publicly comes out of his/her shell — on paper, at least — by the end of the term.

What projects have you been involved in?

I have also been a student advisor for AEIS students. Being an advisor gave me a new perspective on international students, which is the students’ own perspective. As an advisor, I have gotten a look at the ‘bigger picture’, which includes how they are adjusting to a different culture, a new educational environment and teachers who have very different expectations of them than they have faced before. That information gives me more information I can use to make my students comfortable in my class, and across campus, so that they can succeed in their goals.

How do you balance your life as a teacher with other activities you care about?

That’s hard. Teaching takes a lot of planning, which means it take a lot of time outside the classroom. In the past I tended to let my teaching responsibilities dominate my “leisure” time such as looking for interesting articles/podcasts, trying to create activities that address different learning styles, and reworking things that didn’t work as well as I had hoped in the previous term. The result is that I found I was spending too much time at the computer on weekends. Now, I schedule “down time” for myself so that I don’t forget to have fun.

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

Patience. Sometimes in our haste to give our students the skills they need we can overwhelm them by going too fast or trying to do in the first weeks of a class. We have so many ideas and activities we can’t wait to bring to the classroom. That means that our good intentions can result in overwhelming our students or failing to get a good idea of who they are as individuals, and listening to their voices. However, if we slow down and take a couple of weeks to get to know who our students are as individuals, we can be much more effective teachers. We might find out, for example, that some of the activities we had planned would be more suitable for a more out-going class, or that they need to be more challenging for a highly motivated group. So, I believe focusing first on who our students are and what they need makes us better language facilitators.

What advice do you have for graduate students coming into the MA program?

March 8, 2016
by Annelise Marshall

Student Spotlight: Kateland

Kateland Johnson is a native Eugenian who loves the rain. She also loves the German language and culture, and plans on teaching in Germany after completion of her degree. When she’s not doing grad-studenty things, you can find her sipping coffee and reading German literature, learning about other languages, or spending time with her cats.


Why did you choose the LTS program?
I was a double major at the University of Oregon in Linguistics and German Language, Literature, and Culture; originally, I was only interested in the SLAT certification, but after taking a few courses (particularly Patricia Pashby’s English Pronunciation course), I knew both the instructors in the program and the LTS program itself was a perfect fit for my professional goals.

Tell me about Talking with Ducks II.
Talking with Ducks II is a conversation elective course that the American English Institute offers to international students. There are four of us from the LTS program that are co-teaching under the supervision of an AEI instructor. Each week we have different topics, some of which are chosen by the students, and we design activities around those topics that target oral skills. My favorite aspect of this course are the students themselves; I really enjoy hearing about their home cultures and their interests. The increase in teaching-time between Talking with Ducks I and Talking with Ducks II has made me feel like the relationships between my students and I are much stronger.

What other elective are you taking this term, and how does it complement the rest of the program?
I am taking a course in the College of Education that focuses on making grade-level content more comprehensible for English Language Learners in the K-5 classroom using the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model. My original MA project idea was targeted toward this age group, but with refugee and immigrant students in Germany learning both German and English in school. Even though my MA project topic no longer matches up with this course, I have found the features of the SIOP Model to be applicable to any type of lesson, any type of learners, and in any context.

What advice would you give about choosing electives in the program?
I think the most obvious advice is to choose electives that have some relation to your MA project topic. You can use the content from these courses to inform your research and ideas. But I think another good reason for choosing an elective is personal interest.

March 3, 2016
by Annelise Marshall

Grad Forum Reactions

Last Thursday four LTS students presented at the Grad Student Research Forum, sharing their MA projects with the U of O community. 

12787211_10208679962455920_902268026_o“I presented a poster on my capstone project teaching portfolio. Not only did preparing for the poster help me organize my thoughts and clarify my overall project, but the poster presentation session also contributed to the development of my project. I received a lot of positive feedback and interesting inquiries, and the criticism I received and doubts that some people had were helpful too, as they will inform how I ultimately present the project in its final stage. While preparing this poster while still in the midst of research was nerve-wracking, I think my overall project will be better for it, since I am treating the research forum as a feedback session. The experience itself of preparing and presenting a poster was eye-opening as well, and I believe I will be glad for it when I present in the future in higher stakes environments. I would recommend that anyone with ongoing or finished research try out a research forum; it’s definitely worth it.”–Kathryn


“Grad forum helped me achieve three strategic objectives that were essential for IMG_0988me at this stage in the game. It forced me to 1) bring my capstone ideas together into a coherent (enough) set of ideas to 2) have the chance to share my project with others, and 3) reevaluate, in light of my interactions with others the aspects of the project that seemed sticky and the parts that seemed flat. For me, when doing this kind of work it’s really important to air the idea out. Talking to people about what I’m working on is a super productive way to process my own ideas, as if from another person’s perspective, and reach the next level of clarity.”–Christopher



12800194_10105953647105371_7697730782973052671_n“Grad Forum takes place during the early stages of working on our final projects. I’ve been thinking about my topic since about last August, but I still have a lot of work to do in the next two terms, so it was challenging to create a full poster presentation. However, it was really valuable to do this while I still have time to adjust certain parts of my project. My project focuses on ESL university students at the U of O, so I was able to talk to a lot of people who aren’t in the field but have experience working with international students, or who have studied abroad, and I got a lot of interesting feedback. It was also a positive challenge to have to explain my whole project in brief conversations, and to explain it in a way that was accessible to people not in the field.” –Annelise



“Presenting at the Grad Forum was scary, stressful, intimidating, and one of the most fun experiences I’ve had! It was great to be able to represent LTS, showcase the awesome stuff I get to do in the program, and get recognized for my hard work. Summing 12472542_482724448580119_6165892594019670247_nup an entire year of effort into five short minutes and three PowerPoint slides was a really intense experience. However, it was really great practice for me, as a language teacher, to be able to talk about a topic unfamiliar to the audience as concisely and articulately as possible, while keeping them engaged and staying within the set time frame of five minutes. It was also great to have a day set aside to connect with other graduate students and learn about their work, get feedback from faculty in other departments, and be a part of the larger culture of graduate school. I’m doing the program in two years, so I’ll get another chance next year… and honestly, I’m already looking forward to it!”–Becky

March 1, 2016
by megt

LTS Staff Spotlight: Meg Taggart

Meg Taggart joined the Linguistics Department in December 2015, as a Graduate Coordinator. She was born and raised in Far East Russia, and enjoys the multilingual and cultural environment of University of Oregon campus.


What is your background, and what attracted you to a position in a Linguistics Department?

As a recent graduate in Liberal Arts (with an emphasis in business) from Utah State University and as a transplant to Oregon, I am still rejuvenated by the campus environment. Following my graduation, my first official job was in the design industry as an Account Manager. I loved it! It exposed me to a professional field and gave me opportunities to work with a diversity of people from all over the globe. Making the transition from Utah to Oregon and to working on campus, it only made sense to jump into the internationally-minded Linguistics Department.

What are some of the things that you do in your position, especially as they relate to graduate students?

As a Graduate Coordinator I wear many hats! Being in the admissions season now I usually start off my day by answering inquiries regarding the LTS MA program from potential candidates, or even mail out the letters of admission (which is kind of my favorite!). Updating our social media platforms also plays a big role in my position. As our faculty and graduate students get opportunities to travel I prepare and educate them pre-trip, and take care of their documentation when they return. Working alongside with the best faculty and staff on campus makes my job serving the students of the Linguistics Department a great thing to do.

What has been the most interesting part of your job so far?

Becoming a part of the University of Oregon culture has been the most interesting part of my job. Everyone has a lot of school spirit on campus and it is definitely contagious. From athletics to academics there is a lot of passion when it comes to UO. I am now a proud owner of multiple pieces of ‘duck’ gear, rubber ducks for my puppy, and only enjoy orange on Halloween 😉 .

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not in the Department?

When I am not in Straub Hall, I can be found playing with my puppy (Ash) and husband (Sean). We love exploring the beautiful outdoors of Oregon. We love hiking and visiting the coast, and are always looking for a new lighthouse to learn about. I also enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and finding new bakeries/dessert places in Eugene.


Meg and her family hiking in the Silver Falls State Park.

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