LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

December 31, 2019
by LTSblog
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LTS and NILI in France

Finals week was not just a time for wrapping up classes for Keli Yerian (LTS Director) and Judith Fernandes (curriculum developer at the Northwest Indian Language Institute, or NILI). It was also a unique chance to spend seven days strengthening ties and developing common projects with colleagues in Lyon, France.

Some of the UO – Lyon 2 team in a work meeting, December 2019. From left, Alejandra Vergara, Michel Bert, Bénédicte Pivot, Colette Grinevald, Judith Fernandes

The Université de Lyon 2 and the University of Oregon in fact have a long history through Dr. Colette Grinevald, who was a pivotal figure in the founding of the UO’s Department of Linguistics in the 1970s and is now emeritus professor at Lyon 2. Colette’s groundbreaking work on the endangered language Rama in Nicaragua has had natural ties with NILI’s efforts to support documentation and revitalization over the past 20+ years. In recent years, faculty from both sides of the Atlantic have met up at conferences or at UO or Lyon 2 to discuss and better understand various dynamics across endangered language contexts. Dr. Michel Bert from the Université de Lyon 2 and Dr. Bénédicte Pivot from the Université de Montpellier visited the UO and participated in NILI events in 2017 and 2019 to learn about endangered language contexts in North America. Likewise NILI Director Dr. Janne Underinner and Associate Director Robert Elliott visited France in 2018 to learn more about the case of the endangered language Franco-Provençal.

Judith Fernandes presenting about NILI

This December, the focus turned primarily to questions of how “third parties” such as institutional programs or their resources may be best used for the needs of revitalization, with Keli Yerian and Judith Fernandes representing efforts by LTS and NILI to address these needs. Events in the trip included public presentations about NILI and LTS at the Dynamic du Language (DDL) lab, work group meetings, meetings with faculty from the ICAR lab (Interactions, Corpus, Apprentissage, Représentations) who are also working on plurilingual language learning contexts that involve minoritized and majoritized languages, the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Lyon 2 and UO by Dr. James Walker, Vice-President of Lyon 2, and even a trip to a nearby village where a community play was performed that included both Franco-Provençal and French.

Scene from a community play in Franco-Provençal and French

One example topic of discussion was to what degree popular approaches to second language learning, such as immersion or the use of proficiency-based benchmarks, are appropriate or useful for revitalization contexts, where goals regarding “proficiency” and “communicative competence” might be very specific and context-dependent. What different models might better capture the varied practices and achievements of revitalization efforts, and how can programs and institutes like LTS and NILI help facilitate efforts to develop these models? These are questions that LTS and doctoral students of endangered languages have been tackling with ever-increasing momentum at UO, and we look forward to seeing how these efforts play out in the coming years. We’ll keep you posted!

Signing of the UO-Lyon 2 MOU. From left, James Walker, Judith Fernandes, Michel Bert, Keli Yerian

p.s. To provide additional excitement to the trip, we were witness to the historic strikes happening in France now over retirement and benefits. Here is a scene from a day trip to Aix en Provence.

Strike demonstration in Aix en Provence, December 2019

December 19, 2019
by krobin14
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Alumni Spotlight- Sothy

Sothy Kea graduated from LTS as a Fulbright awardee in 2014 and is now a TESOL language teacher educator and English Center Director in Cambodia. His particular passion for teaching pronunciation led to his MA project, titled “Integrated Oral Skills English Pronunciation Course for Cambodian College Students”.

Sothy at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

What have you been up to since you graduated in 2014?

Since my graduation, I have come back to work as a university lecturer at Institute of Foreign Languages, Royal University of Phnom Penh. I have been teaching in MA in TESOL Program and supervising MA students’ theses. In addition, I have taken a management and leadership position at CIA FIRST International School. I am currently a director of CIA FIRST English Center, which offers general English programs to students of various ages.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of your work in the past few years? Have you had any particular challenges?

Having set up CIA FIRST English Center for CIA FIRST International School has been one of the biggest milestones in my career for the last few years. It used to be only a general English program with approximately 80 students. It has now become a center offering separate English programs to approximately 500 children, teenagers, and adults. In addition, I feel blessed to have formed a dynamic dedicated team in this center, who have been working extremely hard and collaboratively to make today’s success possible. Without them, little would have been achieved! Getting to where we currently are has been quite a challenge though. Transforming an entire organization with a limited budget and human resources was never an easy task. Revamping the curriculum, growing the student number, setting new business strategies, and making other organizational changes were all what we had to do, but these required a lot of patience, dedication, and collaboration among all of the stake holders.

Do you feel that your MA project on integrating pronunciation instruction into the curriculum has been useful to you, directly or indirectly?

with a group of colleagues at CIA FIRST English Center

I believe that my MA project has definitely been useful for my career in two distinctive ways. The overall concepts and hands-on experience of this course development project have tremendously helped me with the curriculum revamping project at CIA FIRST English Center. When we revamped our whole curriculum, I could apply a lot of what I had learned from my MA project into this to make it successful. Also, in MA in TESOL Program at IFL, I have been assigned to teach curriculum and syllabus design in language teaching course in which a great deal of notions from my previous project are practical and relevant, making the teaching even more effective.

Do you stay in touch with any of your cohort members from 2013-14?

After I have graduated, I have been completely occupied with work and family. However, I have been keeping in touch with some friends and professors through email and social media. Last year, I got a chance to attend a conference in Nashville, Tennessee but could not manage to fly to Eugene to visit my professors and friends there. Hopefully, I can do so next time.

Is there any advice you would give to current or future LTS students now in (almost) 2020?

Based on my experience, I am humbled to share a few words with the current and future LTS students. Firstly, knowing your own pace is important. It would be great if you possess all the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with all assigned work in the program. However, if you realize that you usually spend a lot of time to get particular assignment satisfactorily done, then perhaps you might need a different approach. You might need to handle your class assignment as early as possible. The program is quite demanding. It requires a lot of intensive reading, research, and assignment. If you postpone all your assignment, it will build up which you might eventually find it overwhelming to meet all the deadlines. In addition, you could examine whether you lack certain background knowledge or skills to complete the assignment. If so, you might want to take further self-study to build up the necessary background.  Secondly, you should seek help when needed. Inevitably at a particular moment in the program, you will go through a tough time when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, and perplexed. As a matter of fact, this is only seasonal and more importantly, you have a full support system. You could always seek consultation from your course instructors, the program director, and/or the relevant administrative staff. They are unbelievably supportive and approachable! Lastly, you should approach every of your academic course and assignment with utmost care and effort. With time and other constraints, it might be easy to compromise the quality of your works; nevertheless, this academic experience, though somehow challenging at times, will be one in a life time and rewarding in the future. Therefore, it is vital to produce the academic works or results that you are proud to show to your younger generation. Hopefully, my sharing will make a positive difference in your academic journey!

 

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