Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

April 27, 2016
by LTSblog

Preparing for life after LTS

Summer is just around the corner! It’s the time of year in LTS where students are thinking about The Great Beyond: applying for teaching or other professional language-related positions after graduation. Here are some of the tips and resources we share in LTS:

  • Get plugged in to professional organizations in the field. Professional organizations are great resources for job leads and information. We keep a list of these organizations for LTS students on our LTS google site.
  • Build an online portfolio, starting with the creative work from your first classes (statements of teaching philosophies, lesson plans, materials collections, course design…). LTS students start adding to their online portfolios in the second term of the program.
  • Attend and present at conferences. LTS students have attended several conferences this year, and can apply for a $500 award for presenting at one.
  • Publish your ideas, even the brief ones! CASLS has been publishing good activity ideas on InterCom, and one of the Assessment class assignments asks students to prepare a review to submit to TESOL-EJ, for example.
  • Hone your professional communication skills, both in classes and out of them. The LTS program has developed a one-of-a-kind set of online resources called “On the Path to Language Teaching” that includes example cover letters and resumes in our field, as well as an extensive set of mock-interview videos made by our faculty, students, and alumni (the image below is a screenshot from the homepage). These videos include commentaries on the interviews by language and career professionals – a great way to see if your own reactions line up with those who are doing the hiring!
  • Practice, practice, practice! The LTS program is certainly hands-on. Students in the program can pursue multiple teaching internships and take supervised teaching courses that provide substantial feedback and support. They can also work closely with international UO students as tutors and conversation partners, or develop curriculum or assessment ideas through internships at CASLS. All of these experiences look great on a resume.
  • Take advantage of LTS connections to potential employers and internship sites. LTS has a growing network of connections to language teaching institutes, schools, and universities in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, for example, and also keeps in touch about more local position openings. Alumni and current students both can stay in touch to hear about these opportunities.
  • Finally, develop your relationships with peers, faculty, and other mentors while you are in the program. Your peers of today will be your colleagues and your network of tomorrow, and are invaluable as such. LTS fosters a strong cohort support system that students themselves maintain with gusto. Also stay in touch with faculty after graduation; they will remain a source of support for you for a long time!

Although the LTS program is only 15 months long, it is packed full of vitamins and nutrients to help you keep going for the long haul. Bon appetit! — Keli Yerian

Screenshot 2016-04-27 11.48.22

Screenshot from homepage of online interview video materials for LTS students



April 20, 2016
by Annelise Marshall

Student Spotlight: Ava

Ava Swanson is originally from Harrisburg, Oregon. She graduated from LCC and UO before entering LTS. When she needs to destress from grad school responsibilities, she likes to play catch, eat burritos, and pet her fluffy guinea pigs.
 Ava in San Francisco
Why did you decide to join the LTS program?
 I came to the LTS program two years after completing my undergrad at University of Oregon. I studied Spanish, Latin American Studies, and also obtained a SLAT certificate. I worked some odd jobs after graduation and was trying to decide my next step. I knew it would be related to language teaching, so I interviewed some of the language teachers I knew about their personal and professional experiences that helped them get their current jobs. It was during an interview with Laura Holland, my former SLAT instructor, that the LTS program was brought to my attention. The program offered what I was looking for in terms of my professional development.
What is the topic of your MA project?
 My project is a materials portfolio for teachers of low-level immigrant students in a community ESL community. It’s based on the fact that while many immigrants move to the US for better economic and professional opportunities, many don’t have access to these opportunities if they aren’t literate in English. My lessons will use children’s literature books to help low-level students develop their literacy skills. An additional focus of the project is teaching these parent-students how to share the books read in class with their young children.  This helps parents practice their reading skills, develops children’s emergent literacy skills, and creates a culture of literacy in the home.
Why did you choose this topic?
 I chose to investigate literacy and children’s literature because I definitely grew up with a culture of reading in my home. My dad read to me often when I was young and trips to the library and bookstore were a regular occurrence. I still have a lot of my childhood books on my bookshelves. I love re-reading and sharing them with my younger family members as an adult. 
 I chose to focus on immigrant students for my target audience because I’ve met and learned about some really amazing people who have come to the US for better opportunities for themselves and their families. It can be really difficult to settle in a new country, especially when you don’t speak the majority language.
What are you looking forward to the most in your remaining time in LTS?
 Now that we’re nearing the end of the program, I’m really looking forward to showing my finished project to my family. They’re really happy that I’m pursuing my educational goals and my dad and my girlfriend have been especially supportive. I can’t wait to hand them my finished portfolio!

April 13, 2016
by LTSblog

LTS Faculty Spotlight: Andy Halvorsen

Tiffany Andy Brenda in Gabon 2016

Andy in the new English Language Center in Libreville, Gabon, with Brenda and LTS alum Tiffany VanPelt.

How are you associated with LTS?

I’m a faculty member of the American English Institute, and I’ve been teaching in LTS for 2 years. I generally teach LT 436/536 in Spring (the Language Teaching Planning course). I’ve also served as an advisor on the final projects of LTS graduate students.

What else do you do in your work and teaching?

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work in the Innovative Programming unit of the AEI. I’ve worked on the development and design of our upcoming MOOC for English language teachers, and I’ve also just completed an online webinar through American English that talks about how to get the most out of your online teaching and learning experience. I’ve enjoyed being involved with educational technology here at the University of Oregon because it relates to my research interests in social media and how platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to enhance language learning opportunities in a number of diverse ways.

I’ve also recently been involved in our partnership with the Gabon Oregon Center and I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Gabon to deliver a scientific writing workshop to university faculty there.

Where were you teaching before you came to Oregon?

Before coming to the UO, I spent two years in Thailand as an English Language Fellow (ELF) with the US State Department. While in Thailand, I primarily did teacher training work, and I also had the opportunity to teach a weekly English course to high-schools students which was broadcast on television.

What do you think are some of the best perks of being a language teacher and teacher educator?

For me, the biggest perk about this type of work is the people you get to interact with on a regular basis. I’ve met and worked with teachers and students from all over the world, and I’ve broadened my understanding of education significantly. My recent trip to Gabon is a good example. I’d never had the chance to visit West Africa before, but the experience was amazing. I felt like I was able to improve the writing skills of the workshop participants, but, as often happens when I travel for work, I honestly felt like I took as much if not more away from the experience as the participants did!

What is something you’ve learned from your students or teachers-in-training?

video response:

April 6, 2016
by Annelise Marshall

Student Spotlight: Siri

Meet Sirilak Sitthiwong, or Siri. After working as an English teacher/military officer at the Royal Thai Armed Forces Language Institute, Thailand, for 3 years, she got a scholarship from the Armed Forces to pursue her master’s degree. After graduation, she will go back there to resume her job. Currently, she is working as a Thai teacher at the Yamada Language Center, where there are currently 7 students in the community.


Why did you come to the LTS program?

After having taught English in Thailand for quite some time and learned how to teach mostly by doing and trying things out, I got a great opportunity to come here and acquire knowledge and experience through more principled approaches. When I was looking for an MA program and university, the LTS program stood out as it suits my needs and interests. One of the planned missions that I will have to do is to teach Thai to military personnel from ASEAN countries and the program offers a flexibility to focus on any and more than one language. Fortunately, I have not only developed Thai lessons for some LTS courses but also have a chance to really teach Thai for the first time at the Yamada Language Center through Keli’s recommendation. The fact that LTS is an intensive and comprehensive program also allows me to go back and resume my job in a timely manner.


What is it like participating in the LTS program as an international student?

Being an international student who learns English and how to teach English at the same time is a very rewarding experience. While gaining more in-depth theoretical and methodological foundation, I’m learn other interesting aspects of American English and am amazed by how little I know about American pragmatics. I feel so lucky to be among friends who are very supportive and understanding and whom I can ask many questions about their language, no matter how small it is.  I was quite prepared for the cultural difference and how I should handle that before I came here, but I did not expect the difference to be this much valued by friends and teachers in terms of language acquisition. Having a culturally different context from many others helps me reflect on what I think will work and what will not for my students when I develop lesson plans, course design, and currently my MA project.


Tell me about your work with the Yamada Language Center. What has been most rewarding about working in the YLC?

Teaching Thai at the YLC gives me opportunities to put what I learn from the LTS program into practice almost immediately. As part of my teaching, I tell my students what I’m working on this term and ask them if they are interested in doing what I come up with. They are quite happy to be my guinea pig and give me valuable feedback. Fall term was my first time teaching Thai and since then I have learned a lot about my own language. To plan my lessons, I don’t have any textbook to follow and if I had it, it would not help me much anyway because my students (initially as small as five) have their own individual goals and needs which are very different from each other. I learned about backward design from my working experience here and that happened even before I knew it was called ‘backward design’. Creating materials and activities from scratch is what I find the most enjoyable and the ones that the students helped me create in turn engaged them the most.

I have total beginners and some intermediate students who have been to Thailand before. At first, I hesitated to put them together because I did not know how to manage a mixed-level class effectively, but Jeff recommended it so that I had more time to do my regular LTS studying. I was struggling with the differentiation at first and I felt it was too cumbersome that I decided to separate them according to their levels. I was lucky that I had a Thai friend to help me out. After giving it many tries and finally hearing from the students that they learned a lot from working across levels, I felt a lot more confident and keep this practice. Being in a friendly environment with a very supportive boss like Jeff and nice colleagues, I have discovered a great deal about language teaching, which is different but complementary to my role as an English teacher back in Thailand.


What is your MA project about, and why did you choose this topic?

My project is about using films and TV series to develop oral skills proficiency. This type of materials is always of my interest and passion because they are what I learned English from. I remembered dreaming about studying abroad, seeing what I saw in the movies and talking to the people I heard from the movies . It was this dream that drove me to put more effort when it came to studying English. While many people think of films as materials for practicing vocabulary and listening skills, which can be done at home, I see them as contextually rich resources for speaking skills as well. Especially with some careful guidance, films can be triggers for various conversations. I’m also interested in cultural/pragmatic aspects that students can learn from watching films. Many of them reflect real life that has not been very well presented in textbooks.

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