LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

July 30, 2018
by zachp
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MA Project Spotlights: Yumiko Omata and Zach Patrick-Riley

Yumiko exploring the University of Washington campus before presenting at the Third Northwest Conference on Japanese Pedagogy.

This summer term we are highlighting the final M.A. projects of the soon to be graduating LTS cohort on the blog. For this week’s post, we are pleased to feature Yumiko Omata and Zach Patrick-Riley.

Hi Yumiko! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is to develop an interactive Japanese course for intermediate-level students in a US university in order to foster learner autonomy and intercultural competence. The highlight of the course is telecollaborative language learning between university students in the US and Japan.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I wanted to provide students contextualized learning opportunities. Telecollaboration has great potential to allow students collaborate in a virtual space and engage in interactions with native speakers regardless of geographical constraints.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

I am excited about integrating flipped learning into a blended language learning environment (face-to-face classroom + virtual classroom) using multimodal technologies. Thank you for inspiring me, Jeff!

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

  1. Enjoying nature – Hiking and camping
  2. Back to the studio — Taking ceramic classes would be delightful.

 

Zach enjoying the view on top of Spencer’s Butte in Eugene.

Hi Zach! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is a teaching portfolio focused on improving Brazilian English language learners’ phonological competence in preparation for the Cambridge FCE Speaking Exam (and beyond). The activities I have created help students better produce and interpret English prosody, which has been shown to affect perceptions of intelligibility and meaning.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I’ve always loved teaching English pronunciation, probably due to my background in singing and acting. One of my biggest takeaways from the LTS program has been the importance of developing learners’ pragmatic competence in conjunction with any skill. In doing research, I discovered English language learners often have a difficult time interpreting and producing prosodic features such as intonation and pitch variation, which can cause negative perceptions/communicative issues. I saw the opportunity to connect this phonological training to the FCE speaking exam, a high-stakes proficiency test in Brazil and around the world. Quality exam preparation materials already exist, so my goal has been to consider dynamic approaches in designing the materials I offer.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

I think the coolest thing about my project is how it empowers learners to improve their phonological competence more autonomously and feel more confident in their own style of communicating.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

I just want to make the most out of my final month living here in Eugene. I will really miss the friends I have made, so my main priority is to treasure the remaining moments together (for now at least). Besides that, I want to continue exploring Oregon’s beautiful landscapes.

July 21, 2018
by LTSblog
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Keli Yerian in South Africa

LTS faculty often travel internationally as part of their work, since language teaching and learning is often very connected to international interactions. This week’s blog feature’s LTS Director Keli Yerian’s unusually far-reaching travel this past week in early July – to the southern tip of Africa in Capetown.

A sculpture of Mandela made of beads

Why were you visiting Capetown?

My research interests are in language and gesture, particularly in how language teachers learn to use their bodies as an integral part of language teaching when the learning context is face-to-face. There is an association called the International Society for Gesture Studies that holds a conference every two years, and this year it was held in South Africa.

Marion and Keli

Did you present at the conference?

This time I presented with my colleague from France, Marion Tellier, which whom I am co-authoring some comparative  research studies with data from our program in LTS, and the MA teacher education program she directs in France. We are noticing some similar patterns of gesture development in both programs, as well as some contrasts that may be related to differing educational and cultural contexts. We are both very interested in how typical co-speech gesture becomes more stylized and conventionalized in specific ways when used in pedagogical situations for depicting content and for serving pragmatic purposes in interaction. Unfortunately we forgot to ask someone to take a photo of us presenting, so I can’t show one here!

Sitting at the top of Lion’s Head – what a climb!

Did you do anything else in Capetown?

For most of the conference, we were always in the same conference hotel. Breakfasts and lunches were all provided there. Unfortunately, exploring around the city after dark was not safe in the heart of the city, so we only went out to dinner in groups to nearby places. The legacy of apartheid was very apparent all around us, and safety issues were just one aspect of this. It was only about 25 years ago that explicit discrimination was ended in South Africa (people of color were denied equal rights in most imaginable ways), and one generation is not enough to change the effects of racism and unequal access to resources and opportunities. We were lucky to meet a few South Africans who talked to us quite frankly about this legacy, which we appreciated.

This is what it looked like climbing up Lion’s Head

vigilant birds of paradise

We did spend the last days combining work with fun trips. Some of us hiked to the top of Lion’s Head, which involved literally climbing up ladders built into the cliffs and pulling yourself up chains, and we visited an animal reserve where we saw lions, cheetahs, giraffes, and elephants. We also went to the very end of the cape – the tip of the continent of Africa – that was impressive! Finally, we visited the famous botanical gardens. The birds of paradise flowers looked like a flock of cranes peering out of the bushes.

It was the middle of winter there, so the weather was cool. Luckily the country had recently had some good rain; there was a water crisis before we arrived that was better by the time we were there, but we still took 30 second showers and didn’t let faucets run. It made me really appreciate the delicious water here in Eugene.

Did I mention the penguins? Yes, penguins in Africa.

I doubt I’ll ever return there, but if any of you get the chance, I recommend it!

July 13, 2018
by zachp
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MA Project Spotlights: Logan Matz and Ngan Vu

This summer term we are highlighting the final M.A. projects of the soon to be graduating LTS cohort members. This week we are pleased to feature Logan Matz and Ngan Vu.

Logan Matz (left) discussing his project idea with LTS faculty Robert Elliot.

Hi Logan! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is a teaching portfolio designed to improve pragmatic competence for international graduate students studying in the US. International students have to meet a certain language proficiency level, but there’s no corresponding assessment for pragmatics in widespread use yet. Grad students have more responsibilities than undergrads, and so they deserve a correspondingly larger amount of help with adjustment to US academic life.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I’ve always been interested in how people use language, and so pragmatics was a natural fit. Several friends of mine have had experiences where they felt less-than compared to native speakers of English in an academic setting, and I don’t think anyone should have to deal with language getting in the way of expression of knowledge. If I can help people show their smarts, and not feel limited by their language skills, then I’ll consider that a success.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

So far, I’ve been trying to put a really big focus on student-created examples for all of my activities. I think that with all the extra work and responsibilities that grad students have to do, on top of the challenge of doing graduate work in your second language, the barrier to entry for getting into the nitty gritty during my activities should be as low as possible. Additionally, the international students in this year’s LTS cohort that I’ve talked to all say that these sorts of activities would be really useful for them. If that’s not a ringing endorsement from the students who would actually benefit from a project like this, I don’t know what is!

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

Try not to die of heat stroke. I’m a frail little Washingtonian. I’d love to summit South Sister before I leave, also!

Ngan presenting her MA Project idea at the graduate student poster session.

Hi Ngan! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is a teaching portfolio focusing on using extensive reading as source texts to support writing fluency.

How did you become interested in this topic?

My interest comes from my personal experiences as an international student studying overseas. I struggled considerably in an English composition class when I first came to the United States and tried hard to figure out how to adapt to the writing conventions in another language. Therefore, I would like to find a way to make writing less intimidating for ESL/EFL learners and let them know that they all have the capability to be a good writer in their own way.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

The coolest/most interesting part… I don’t have a specific answer for this question. I just feel that I am currently working with many variables, experimenting with new concepts and trying to put those into a concrete portfolio. How my project looks like at the end is still a mystery for me at this moment but I hope it is beneficial.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

I would like to hike more and spend more time enjoying the beauty of Eugene with friends in the summer. Time flies.

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