Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

August 19, 2016
by megt

Faculty Spotlight: Joana Jansen

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What is the nature of your work at the University of Oregon? 

I am the Associate Director of the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) which is one of the research institutes and centers on campus. I am privileged to be able to support projects focused on revitalization and linguistic description of Native American languages, and students and community members working on these projects. In the part of the world that we now know as the state of Oregon, there were once 18-25 languages, many with multiple dialects. Most are not spoken today by elders who grew up speaking the language, but more and more are being spoken by language learners. There is so much interest in passion in returning the languages to daily use – it is inspiring!

My work at NILI is quite varied. There is not ‘typical’ day or week. I could be drafting a grant proposal, working on a research project with tribal partners, supervising GRFs to disseminate information and products via NILI’s website, meeting with Linguistics students, planning for NILI’s Summer Institute, and/or delivering online workshops and trainings to Native language teachers.

How are you associated with LTS?

I have worked with a number of LTS students, particularly those working on Native American language projects. Their work and ideas strengthen NILI. I have also been a reader for LTS Masters projects. I have not taught in LTS classes regularly, but this term I am teaching Linguistic Principles and Second Language Acquisition.

What is your favorite language of those that are taught at UO? 

The Ichishkíin language is spoken by elders of several tribes in Oregon and Washington. Most of the work I have done on documentation and curriculum has been focused on Ichishkíin – we’ve been teaching it at UO since Yakama Elder Virginia Beavert came here to get her PhD in 2007. LTS students and grads have been key to the class. In the early years of the class, LTS student Roger Jacob developed course materials and co-taught with me and Virginia. Now, LTS grad Regan Anderson is teaching it with Virginia, and other students are involved building and enhancing curriculum, which is shared with teachers at the tribes. The language is also taught at NILI Summer Institute and that brings together students and teachers of Ichishkiin from across the region, including UO students.

What do you enjoy most about working with language educators?

It’s a cliché but – I learn so much from the teachers I work with! Their love for their students is inspiring. Because I work in many different communities, I can facilitate connections between people and help to share ideas and inspiration.

You are teaching one of the first classes our cohort is taking – do you have any words of wisdom or advice for them as they continue in the program?

I’ve seen a lot of students grow in skills and confidence during the LTS program, and the relationships built in the cohort are really important. As a group, you hold a lot of knowledge: help and learn from one another. Also, even though you are in graduate school, take time for yourself and your family, keep a balance in your lives. Exercise, play, relax, go outside!

August 10, 2016
by Annelise Marshall

Class of 2016: What’s Next?


The class of 2016–with special guest Sparkle– after the final day of the symposium

LTS graduates go on to work all over the world, work with various levels and ages, and teach a variety of languages. Here are some of the positions that the class of 2016 have been offered:

Katie: I will be going to Oaxaca, Mexico, to work in the language department of a local university as a teacher/researcher and eat lots of enchiladas.

Siri: I’m going to resume my work at the Royal Thai Armed Forces Language Institute, Thailand.

John: I will be teaching Spanish part-time at our local high school (Triangle Lake) and teaching German part-time at Gutenberg College, a small private college here in Eugene.

Emily:  I will be teaching in Bangkok, Thailand.

Sara: I am heading to a Chinese and ESL teaching position for elementary third grade students in a public school in Beaverton, OR. I will be teaching Chinese and English language arts and other immersion program subjects in Chinese, such as Math and Science. I am excited to be heading to this wonderful opportunity.

Kateland: I’m going to be teaching in Indonesia with the Peace Corps for two years starting in March, 2017. I will be in a rural secondary school in either East or West Java, where I will co-teach English with an Indonesian counterpart, as well as take part in community and youth development.

Annelise: I’ll be teaching English at a university in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I will hopefully also get to be involved in curriculum design.

Christopher: I’ll be working as a Research Associate at CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies) on a virtual reality language app. Yay!

Anna: I’ll be teaching middle school ELA at a Cambodia international school (where the student population is 90% Cambodian).

Keisuke: I will be moving back to Portland and going back to Mt. Tabor Middle School where I spent 17 years prior to becoming a proud LTSer. What an amazing year – even better than I could have imagined!


August 3, 2016
by Annelise Marshall

MA Project Spotlight: Emily

EmilyLetcher (1 of 1) (1)Emily Letcher is from the Eugene area and is an alumnus of both the University of Oregon and the Second Language Acquisition & Teaching (SLAT) certificate program. This Fall she will begin teaching in Bangkok, Thailand.

What is the title of your MA project?

Teaching Interlanguage Pragmatics of Disagreement in a Secondary EFL Context Using Film and TV Shows

Why did you choose this topic?

I am very passionate about the study and use of critical thinking, logic and argumentation, both as a personal interest and also as a skill that I think ought to be taught. Before I began the LTS program, I had recently returned from Italy, where I was teaching debate in several of my high school conversation classes. That wonderful experience, and the students themselves, impressed upon me just how capable and enthusiastic our young adult students are at voicing their different beliefs and tackling contemporary issues. I don’t just want students to be able to express their opinions behind a podium though, I want them to be able to do so interpersonally, at an everyday, conversational level, and even when their opinion differs from the other person’s.

Of course, students do this in their own language already, but trying to disagree in a foreign language, with speakers of that language, opens up a whole new can of worms. There are so many sociocultural factors that go into deciding how to say what you say in order to have successful communication. Were you polite? Were you too direct? The quality of the argument you put forth won’t matter as much if you are not aware of these unwritten “rules” that are shared and understood by people from that language culture. I developed this project in order to provide concrete ways to help students recognize these pragmatic issues and choose how to respond to them, so that they will hopefully be able to more confidently and successfully express themselves in English.


What do you like best about your project?

My project uses film and TV shows as the main method to teaching students about disagreement.
Films and TV shows are very important to me because of how they reflect our perceptions of reality and also project our ideals for it. They may not always be very academic, but I think they have the potential to reach and connect more people than anything else does, and that makes them invaluable. I could say so much more but I will simply say that I am very happy to be able to incorporate this huge part of my life into my project.

What advice would you give to future students about the MA project?

Choose something that you are passionate about, not because you’ll be spending every waking hour thinking about it, which you will, but because this is one of the best opportunities for you to learn more about something specific that interests you and to apply it in a way that is meaningful not just for you but for a whole audience. As a teacher, you will always be in a position to influence and inspire students. Regardless of whether you use this project with your students though, this is an immediate, tangible opportunity for you to also influence and inspire your current and future colleagues and possibly even the academic field. I have been inspired by all my cohort members’ work and am very proud to be graduating with them.

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