LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

January 28, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Ngan Vu (2017-18)

It is my pleasure to introduce you to 2017-2018 LTS MA student Ngan Vu!

Ngan in Da Nang City, Vietnam

Hi Ngan! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.

Hi everyone! I am from Ho Chi Minh City (or previously called Saigon), Vietnam. I enjoy jogging since it helps me connect more with nature and balance my inner self.

And have you been enjoying the program so far?

With no doubt, yes! I am enjoying the program and happy with what I am doing and the people whom I am with. Being in the program is not just about learning (yes, we undoubtedly must) but also forming a community in which memories (and sometimes anxiety) are shared. All the professors in the LTS program, everyone at the Yamada Language Center, and my cohort members have given me more knowledge and opportunities for valuable experiences than I could ever ask for.

And I know you’ve been tutoring at the Yamada Language Center. What has that experience been like?

Ngan with Yamada SSLP coordinator Harinder Khalsa and FLTA’s Som-Oh Sripakdee and Amna Hasan

No words can fully describe this invaluable experience. In the Self Study Language Program (SSLP), learners are highly motivated and the tutor-learner relationship is very close. Plus, tutoring at Yamada helps me experiment with new technological tools and put into practice knowledge acquired in LTS classes. I have been receiving immense emotional and professional support from everyone, especially Jeff, Harinder, my mentor chị Tâm, and Gary. Also, I have learned considerably from my students who are dedicated, motivated and very patient with me, and my FLTA friends. Their positive energy always inspires me.

Sounds like a truly exceptional experience! What are you hoping to gain from the LTS program?  

Ngan with her students learning Vietnamese in Yamada’s Self Study Language Program.

Coming in the program with little background, I hope to learn as much as I can in terms of theoretical foundation of second language pedagogy and how to effectively apply the knowledge in and even beyond language classrooms. Also, my wish is to figure out how to make language learning more accessible and less intimidating for learners.

Any final thoughts?

I am deeply grateful for everything and feel fortunate to be here, in the program, and crossing paths with many warm-hearted and kind souls.

Thank you for sharing your experiences so far Ngan–LTS is glad to have your warm-hearted and kind soul as well!

January 20, 2018
by Trish Pashby
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Less Commonly Taught Languages at UO’s Yamada Language Center—Meet This Year’s Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants

LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto directs University of Oregon’s Yamada Language Center. We asked him to share details about Yamada’s program offering courses in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs).

Jeff Magoto, Director of Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon

Since 1997 the Self Study Language Program (SSLP) has been a staple for UO students interested and motivated to learn LCTLs. And since 2004 more than 20 of the teachers in this special program have been Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs). They’ve come from 15 different countries and have taught Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, Korean Persian, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, Wolof, and Vietnamese. In exchange for offering the language and cultural outreach, they get the opportunity to study at the UO for a year tuition free.

The FLTA program, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department, has three goals for their scholars: to teach their language; to become more skilled and well-rounded as language teaching professionals, and to provide cross cultural outreach on behalf of the university to schools and civic organizations in the local communities where they live. Last year there were more than 400 FLTAs in the U.S.

At the UO our FLTAs are connected to three departments: the Yamada Language Center where they work, the Language Teaching Studies program where they study, and the International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) where they’re part of a team of more than 40 international students providing education and insight.

Alums of this program have followed many different paths upon completion of their year of service. Several have stayed on or subsequently returned to UO and LTS where they have completed graduate degrees. Some now have jobs at prestigious universities around the world; most return to their country and become active members of their schools and universities.

Game Night at Yamada Language Center

In a time of limited funding for language study, there probably wouldn’t be an SSLP program without the FLTAs. UO students are deeply appreciative of the opportunities that the SSLP offers and the energy that their tutors bring to their intimate classrooms. Cultural learning is embedded in all that they do.

This year’s FLTAs, Amna Hassan from Pakistan, Henry Rusasa from Tanzania, and Thanaporn (Som-oh) Sripakedee from Thailand, have a busy term ahead of them. Besides taking one class in LTS/Linguistics, each will teach or assist in two classes, and give 1-2 public talks or presentations per week in the community. We interviewed them to find out more about how their year at UO is going.

What have you learned from the experience of teaching at Yamada? 

Amna: My teaching experience at the Yamada Language Center is totally different from the teaching experiences I had in Pakistan. I learned different teaching methodologies and techniques in the past three months which will be very helpful in my teaching career. I learned how to make learning fun for your learners by using activities in class. And realized that this way learners can learn better rather than the classical method which we use in our country. I learned teaching is not about translating the second language into first language, solving exercises or cramming vocabulary words. Language can be taught and learned in many different ways. I am still learning from my colleagues and mentors, and my teaching experience so far is an eye-opening experience.  I am ready to learn more.

Henry Rusasa, Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) from Tanzania

Henry: I have learned a lot! I have learned new ways of teaching a second language. I also learned the activities I can use to make the lessons very interesting in the class. I learned the use of technological devices and having a backup plan when there is a technological glitch. I also learned how to prepare the best slides for the lesson and how to make sure that the lesson is taught timely as planned. And my English language competence has improved.

Som-oh: I always learn from my students. Teaching at YLC, the students come with their motivations for learning Thai. One of my students loves to listen and think before they speak, which has taught me to slow down my lesson. Another 65-year-old student taught me that nobody is too old to learn. He is a community member and he always keeps reflecting his learning experience through Anvil, the interactive media program created by Jeff Magoto, where we have cultural interaction every week. Through Anvil, I have learned to use outside sources such as songs, advertisements and movie trailers to build up a good lesson with my students. Secondly, I have learned to be kind and hardworking. Working at YLC allows me to meet my wonderful colleagues. Both my supervisors, Jeff and Harinder, believe in our potential as tutors. They give great support and advice every time we need it and they are very good listeners. Looking at how they work, they really give great attention and care to what they are doing. With these good examples, I have learned to adapt these with my students as well.

 What have you enjoyed most about teaching at Yamada?

Amna: First of all, I have enjoyed the classes and the technology most. It makes teaching more interesting and fancy. Second of all, teaching is topic-based and not curriculum-based. So, I don’t have to worry about finishing the syllabus in the limited time. Last but not least, I enjoy working at the Yamada because Yamada is home.

Amna Hassan from Pakistan with Jeff Magoto

Henry: I enjoy the cooperation I get from my students. They have a real sense of humor and a great desire to learn Swahili language. This makes it easier for me to share with them my language skills and cultural experience, from which they gain the competence and confidence in using Swahili language to communicate. Their curiosity in learning new words, phrases and tenses bring them to me many times and am always happy to help them. In some of these moments I am always impressed to hear new ideas, words, grammar and tenses which they have discovered themselves. This lightens up the spirit of teaching and learning in the class.

Som-oh: I have enjoyed working in the environment around YLC with its diversity of languages and people. I have met many unique people from around the world: Spain, Nepal, Turkey, Italy, America, etc. I can say that YLC is a great place to learn languages of the world. I believe that this environment promotes understanding towards diversity.

LTS really likes having FLTAs in their classes. What are your feelings about taking courses with LTS students?

Amna: I think FLTAs are lucky to be a part of LTS classes. At first, the class environment and the teaching was all Greek to me because of different teaching and culture compared to my country. But soon I started to enjoy it. LTS faculty and cohort is full of amazing, intelligent and funny people. I love them all.

Henry: I have enjoyed every course I have taken with the LTS students. I can say they are an amazing group of students you can find at the University of Oregon. We have had time to share our cultural and language experiences in a funny way both in class and outside the class. They understand the challenges non-native speakers of English face, and from time to time they help one speaker by making some corrections and suggestions on grammar or the structure of the sentence carefully without offending the speaker. This makes everyone free to air his or her views and participate in the class activities confidently. This teamwork spirit and an understanding we have makes us remain friends even after finishing the course.

Som-oh Sripakadee from Thailand (right) with LTS students Ngan Vu (left) and Rebekah Wang (center)

Som-oh: LTS students aren’t only my classmates but we have also become friends outside the classroom. Taking LT 528 allowed me to get to know teacher-friends and share our teaching passions through projects and discussions. Moreover, the instructor, Trish, provided us with activities to get to know each other better. For example, writing about my discourse community which helped me to get to know other classmates who are interested in the same discourse. From there, I went to see one of my classmate’s Frisbee games. This opened my eyes to a different community in Eugene. Another great experience was to share our international dinners, brunches during the term and after we finished the course. Not many classes I have experienced were like this, and I am hoping to be in an LTS class once again.

It was a pleasure learning from Jeff Magoto about LCTLs at Yamada Language Center and checking in with the current FLTAs teaching Hindi/Urdu, Swahili and Thai. Next week, the LTS blog will feature Yamada’s Vietnamese teacher–Ngan Vu–who is also a student in the LTS MA program.

January 12, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Lee Huddleston (2017-18)

It is my pleasure to introduce 2017-18 LTS MA student Lee Huddleston

Lee at Lago Querococha near Huaraz in the Andes Mountains of Peru

Hi Lee! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.

Hello, my name is Lee and I am a student in the Language Teaching Studies Master’s Degree Program at the University of Oregon. I was born in Ketchikan, Alaska where my Dad worked in a logging camp, but I was raised in Oregon. I love the outdoors: Hiking and camping are major hobbies of mine. I also really enjoy reading (particularly non-fiction history, as well as a variety of fiction books). I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Spanish at the University of Oregon. My first experience abroad was with a high school exchange program in Costa Rica. Then as a senior in college, I studied abroad for a semester in Peru, working simultaneously as a volunteer with at-risk youth in Pachacamac, Peru.

And I know you were in the Peace Corps–how was that experience?

Lee on the picnic island Aferen with his host family taking a rest in between hauling rocks for a project on Moch Island

I served for two years (2014-2016) in the Federated States of Micronesia. My permanent site was Moch Island, a small outer island in the Mortlock island group. Looking back now, I was rather cavalier in my decision to accept that two-year placement after only a brief google search of my future home, but I have never regretted that decision. It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

The impact of this decision hit me the moment I found myself waving good-bye to my new friends from the shore of the mile-long island that would be my home for the next two years. As the motorboat carrying staff members and the other volunteers departed for the next island, I could not help but think about how I was 250 miles away from the nearest place I had ever heard of.

Lee with other Peace Corps volunteers and community leaders conducting a “Camp Boys to Men” summer camp

The Peace Corps was an eye-opening experience in many ways. It allowed me the chance to take on responsibilities, deal with challenges, and learn from mistakes and successes. On the whole, I loved my experiences on the island–they have left me with friends and family who I will treasure for the rest of my life. The skills I learned were equally formative as I navigated challenges of integrating myself into a community, learning skills for the workplace, defining my place in the culture and adapting to the idea that the borders between those things are not always so well defined in small communities.

My job on the island was as a co-teacher, teaching full-time with a local partner. This aspect was a great strength of the program mission as it allowed for mutual learning and cross-cultural dialogue between myself and my local counterpart. As a Peace Corps volunteer I also engaged in a number of secondary projects on my island, including teacher workshops, two summer camps for which I wrote up grants and helped conduct. I also helped conduct student study sessions after school for college entrance exams, and helped with the preliminary stages of building a basketball court for youth development on Moch. It was this experience teaching that stoked my passion for education, bringing me to the point of entering this master’s degree program at UO.

Wow, very cool! And how has the LTS experience been treating you?

LTS has been great so far! My fellow cohort members, the staff, and the courses have been sources of knowledge, wisdom, and enjoyment beyond my expectations.  My favorite aspect of this program is how I am able to put into action what I am learning through my work as a graduate employee at the AEI, and other professional development experiences.

What are you hoping to learn/gain from the program?

I joined this program hoping to build a theoretical foundation in current Second Language Acquisition pedagogy and put that into practice with a strong hands-on application of what I learned. While the Peace Corps was a valuable experience, I feel like before continuing on as an English teacher, it is essential that I gain the knowledge, skills, and legitimacy as a teacher that a Master’s degree in the field will give me. This will help me along the way to becoming a better, more prepared, and more qualified teacher. The way I see it, I owe it to my future students to be the best teacher that I can be.

So you mentioned you are a GE (graduate employee) at the American English Institute–what is that like?

Lee with his AEI Discussion 5 class

Yes, working as a GE at the AEI has been a great experience. Last term I taught a Discussion 5 course. Being able to apply what I learned in my courses to an actual teaching context and vice versa was extremely beneficial. I had never before worked in a university-level context, so to be able to do so in an environment as supportive as the AEI has been a real privilege. Being able to bounce ideas off of colleagues, having a supportive supervisor,  and having all of the AEI resources and facilities available to me are all great benefits of this experience. There have also been challenges, for example implementing a brand-new curriculum that was just developed by the AEI, as well as navigating the ins and outs of teaching a discussion course.

What are your goals for teaching at the AEI this term?

This term I will be teaching a new class, Listening 4, and this should bring with it new challenges that will dictate my goals for this term. One of my goals will be to better utilize Canvas and computer assisted learning to make my course more useful and engaging for my students. Another goal of mine is to try new things in the classroom, varieties of activities, and strategies to address student motivation and communicative competence. After all, one of the great aspects of this opportunity is the chance to try new things, develop myself as a teacher, and learn from these experiences.

Any final thoughts?

I am very thankful for this opportunity to be once again at the University of Oregon to continue my education. I feel like this program is very unique as it focuses on the teaching of not just English, but other languages as well. This brings a diversity to the program that makes it a pleasure to participate in.

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Hope you have a great Winter term!

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