LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

December 15, 2017
by Trish Pashby
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Program Change: First Term LTS Courses Going Fully Online in Summer 2018

Starting in Summer 2018, the first term of the program will be completely online. All three of the first core courses will be taught via the internet. The new online schedule will be as follows:

  • LING 510 Language, Mind and Society (Weeks 1-4, June 25-July 20)
  • LING 540 Linguistic Principles of Second Language Learning (Week 5-8, July 23-August 17)
  • LT 535 Language Teaching Methods (Weeks 1-8, June 25-August 17)

Visit the LTS website for more information.

Each will provide a flexible, interactive learning experience. In addition to daily opportunities throughout the summer term for interaction with course instructors and classmates, students will also meet other LTS faculty and continuing LTS students through various online social activities.

We asked LTS Program Director Dr. Keli Yerian about the rationale for making this change.

What was the inspiration for the program to shift to all online courses for students in their first term? “Research on online teaching over the past decade has shown us that well-designed online curricula can be highly effective, and our LTS faculty have already designed and taught similar online courses in the past with great success. Also, because only the first Summer term will be online, LTS students will still have plenty of opportunities to have an immersive, face-to-face experience in the program during the rest of the program, so we are getting the best of both worlds. We are very excited about this development.”

Keli Yerian outside of the Laboratoire Parole et Language in Aix en Provence, where she is currently on sabbatical.

What advantages will going ‘all online’ in the first summer bring to LTS students? “The main advantage will be that LTS students can reduce their expenses because they will not be obliged to be on the University of Oregon campus during the first Summer term (the months of June-September). They will not need to pay for travel to or lodging in Eugene, which can reduce costs for out-of-state and international students in particular.”

LTS students and faculty also weighed in on this switch to online courses in the first term. In a recent survey of the program’s current students, several confirmed that having their first term online would have provided some welcome flexibility. One student described it as a “huge advantage, especially for international students. The students don’t have to arrive on campus until Fall term starts and can study at their leisure- at home, in another country, etc. For me, it would have been really nice to have this option.” Another explains, “I think it may help international students of L2 English adjust to the curriculum if they are able to focus on their studies without having to adjust to living in a new country at the same time.”  A third student noted that in addition to being able to “take part in the summer courses from anywhere in the world, which most likely will save money, students will also see how online classes are successfully conducted.”

Dr. Julie Sykes will be teaching the online LING 540 Linguistic Principles of Second Language Learning.

LTS faculty are excited about the change. Dr. Julie Sykes (who serves as director of the Center for Applied Second Language Studies) is the instructor of LING 540 Linguistic Principles of Second Language Learning. She reports that she is “looking forward to implementing some interactive pedagogical ideas that work really well online.” Based on her extensive experience with online learning, she describes one of its key strengths as providing “more opportunities for individualized attention.” She explains “I really find a lot of value in community building and spending time together learning…[there are] many opportunities for interaction between students as well as with me.”

The online courses will serve as an interesting complement to the variety of offerings in the on-campus terms of the program.  Most of these are face-to-face courses using a ‘flipped learning’ approach, which allows students to maximize in-class time for student-centered workshops. And  LT 608 Computer-Assisted Language Learning, offered as a series of 1-credit courses throughout the program, is delivered in a blended format (partially face-to-face, partially online).

Another innovation to the program will take place this summer. In addition to the online switch, there will be a curriculum change. LING 594 English Grammar, formerly taken by many students in the first summer, will be replaced with LING 510 Language, Mind, and Society. We asked Dr. Yerian for more information about this.

What was the motivation for the change in curriculum from the English Grammar course to Language, Mind, and Society? “Because some of our incoming students do not have a prior background in linguistics, we decided that we needed to devote more attention to linguistics in the first term, which is what we are doing with the new course Language, Mind, and Society. However, this course is not a typical introductory level course – it is a graduate level course that connects linguistics closely to both sociolinguistics and cognitive linguistics. Thus it will be highly engaging for our incoming students who already have a background in linguistics as well. Another reason for replacing English Grammar is that not all students in our program plan to teach English, so some of our students were already exempt from this course. LTS will continue to integrate a focus on pedagogical grammar throughout the program.”

Dr. Mokaya Bosire is developing LING 510 Language, Mind, and Society.

The primary developer of Language, Mind, and Society is Dr. Mokaya Bosire of UO’s Linguistics Department. He is particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity to explore themes related to language and social class, speech impairment, machine languages, linguistic profiling, universality of language, and forensic linguistics. Questions guiding some of the course content include the following: How does human language differ from other forms of communication? How does machine language (and assistants like Siri and Bixby) work? Where is language stored in the mind and in what ways? Why does some speech sound gendered? What is slang? What’s the best way to learn a second language? With its emphasis on applying up-to-date findings in the field of linguistics to current trends and events in society, this course promises to be an excellent addition to the LTS program.

LTS faculty Tom Delaney, Robert Elliott, and Julie Sykes discussing online summer courses.

Prospective students can find additional details about the program on the LTS website, including guidelines for the application process. The priority deadline for applying is February 1, 2018. The changes described above should appeal to a number of people seeking an MA in language teaching.  Dr. Sykes told us: “I’m looking forward to working with a great new cohort of students.”

December 2, 2017
by Trish Pashby
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Robert Elliott’s Trip to Warsaw for Endangered Languages Conference

Robert Ellliott regularly teaches the LT 608 CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning) course in the LTS Program. Next term (Winter 2018) he will also be teaching LT 535 (Language Teaching Methods) and creating an online version of this course to be offered in Summer 2018. In addition to LTS, Robert works at University of Oregon’s Northwest Indian Languages Institute (NILI), through which he takes some very interesting trips…

Dzien dobry

Dzien dobry, (good day/morning/afternoon/evening), a standard greeting in Polish. In November, Robert traveled to Warsaw, Poland. We asked him a few questions to find out what he was doing there.

Why Warsaw?

Old Town Warsaw on Polish Independence Day

Janne Underriner, NILI Director, and I were invited to a small conference and workshop on Endangered Languages that was hosted by the Engaged Humanities project at the School of Liberal Arts, University of Warsaw. I had recently met Justyna Olko, the faculty member in charge of this project, at another conference in Barcelona, Spain earlier in the spring. She was very interested in the work of NILI and the endangered language context of the United States and Pacific Northwest. She is the administrator of a European Union grant that is working on community-university partnerships in language revitalization, something they call Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR is a relatively new idea in the European endangered language

Justyna Olko, host of the conference, helps open a photograph exhibit on endangered languages.

landscape, and Justyna was impressed by the fact that NILI has been doing similar type of work for some 20 years. So we had a paper accepted for the conference and she invited us to come and speak for a half day at the pre-conference workshop.

Who attended this conference?

Largely there were two groups: those working on endangered languages in Europe, and those working on endangered languages in Mesoamerica. The Europeanists were working on languages like Franco-Provençial, Basque or some of the Polish minority languages like Wymysorys. A young 20-something man named Tymoteusz Król was exposed to the Wymysorys language by his grandmother and has become a leader in the revitalization of this language. The Meso-Americanists were working on languages of Mexico and Central America, such as Nahuatl, K’iche’, Mixe, Mixtec, Mayo, and  Nahuat-Pipil. There was so much to learn, both by similarities and by contrasts, to other endangered language situations. Also attending were some notable names in the field, including Leonora Grenoble (University of Chicago), Peter Austin and Julia Sallabank (SOAS University of London), and Colette Grinevald (University of Lyon 2).

Robert (right) socializes with Michel, Janne, Benedict, Marion and Colette after finishing their presentations.

What did you talk about?

For the workshop, we talked about three things: the context of language revitalization in the Pacific Northwest, Language as a Protective Factor for Native Youth, and a Case Study of a Youth PAR Project over time.  For the conference we took a close look at PAR in action as it developed for a class Janne taught that was developed in partnership with tribal groups and the UO. We also had meetings about collaborations on a book with Justyna and our Polish colleagues, and we met with our French colleagues from Lyon, (Colette, Michel Bert, and Benedict Pivot)  to map out some research we are doing.

Who else did you meet with while there?

Robert (center) meets with Krystyna Luto (right), faculty of the Warsaw Medical University, along with one of the department’s Fulbright English teachers to discuss collaborations with the UO.

While in Warsaw I met with Krystyn Luto, faculty member of the Warsaw Medical University. She gave me a tour of the building she works in, the new library, and some of the classrooms and offices of her department. Afterwards, we went to a crepe cafe near her office, and discussed some possible collaborations between the English classes she is in charge of and UO’s American English Institute. The most interesting thing about the medical school is that students can take classes in either Polish or English. Many international students come to Warsaw Medical University to get their degree, and typically they, along with some Polish students who are interested in working internationally, may choose to take their courses in English. Students are usually studying to become M.D.s, nurses, or laboratory technicians, and are typically quite serious about their studies and focused on their need for language.

What did you think of Warsaw?

Modern shopping centers and skyscrapers.

Well first off, I had heard Poland is a beer country and indeed I was not disappointed. I had little to no expectations about the city of Warsaw before going. I had lived in Sweden in the 1990s, and people would travel to Poland for shopping because it was cheap. But my stereotype of a poor, former eastern block country was shattered by this trip. The city was amazing, with tremendous architecture of both “old looking” (Warsaw was completely devastated during WWII and all the “old” buildings are actually reconstructions built post war) and the utmost modern skyscrapers standing side by side, and fantastic murals. There are numerous parks around the city to explore, and the Vistula River runs right near the center and old town. Fantastic museums: The ones I saw included the POLIN Museum of History of Polish Jews, the Resistance Museum, the Neon Museum, and the Chopin Museum. The transportation system – one ticket gets you subways, trolle

Polish desserts! The apple is actually chocolate.

ys and buses – was quick and easy to navigate. The beer was fantastic! And the food was out of this world delicious! The Polish cuisine is very unique, a mixture of northern farm grown produce, bountiful aged meats and cheeses, fresh fish from the Baltic and delicate pastries and desserts, gourmet chocolates, all prepared with extraordinary detail to flavor and presentation. And it was cheap! I never once ate a polish sausage. Oh, and did I mention the beer?

Would you go back?

Yes, for sure, but preferably in the spring or summer.

From the Museum of Neon, where former signs from the Soviet era Warsaw are now being collected.

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