LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

January 27, 2020
by krobin14
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Student Spotlight- Cathy Lee

Cathy Lee is a current LTS student in her third term. Although she’s lived in the US for 15 years, Cathy joined us in Eugene last summer for her LTS adventure! Cathy’s story is unique, and her presence and experience enriches our current cohort in many ways.

In the Alps of Switzerland

 

Hi Cathy! Can you please introduce yourself to the readers, and tell us a bit about you?

Hello! My name is Cathy Lee.  I am slightly hesitant in calculating how many years have passed since I left the academia that I had studied in South Korea. It has been around 30 years ago! I moved to the US about 15 years ago. After moving and all my family affairs were settled stably, I greatly missed my teaching career (mathematics and English) at the learning center that I owned in Korea.

With my students at KSSNJ in NJ

Seek and you shall find!  This phrase has been a direction indicator since I found the power of the saying in my old enough age. So, roughly six years ago, I ended up teaching the Korean language at the Korean School of Southern New Jersey. At the school, I experienced so much fun with my young students and gained the invaluable trigger to professionally teach the Korean language.

I moved to Eugene, Oregon, and joined the LTS cohort last summer, leaving my soul mate (husband) at home in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Boarding the LTS boat was my incredible choice and chance. I have been enjoying the sailing of my journey and am excited to see the port that I shall reach.

 

What made you decide to apply to the LTS MA program?

King Sejong who created Korean alphabet

The most motivating element that made me apply to the LTS MA program is the eagerness to learn how to productively teach the Korean language. When I looked through the LTS MA program at UO, the program description of providing teaching knowledge and training in the current trends immediately drew my attention, and my heart started to beat with joy.  Most of all, my director Keli’s kind direction and consideration allowed me to leave for Eugene.

 

You are unique from many of the students in the LTS cohort this year, in that you are returning to school after many years! What has this experience been like for you? What has surprised you the most about your time in the program so far?

When my children did not need my physical support as a mom, I raised a question to myself; what do you want to do with your life? I found my eagerness to study more about how to authentically teach the Korean language. Taking some college or community college courses near my home in Cherry Hill did not satisfy me. Unconsciously, I wanted to enter the area of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development for my own development. I got to this Zone, my LTS at UO. I have been constructing my practical knowledge with the help of our Program. Each course in the LTS program seems to be prepared specifically for me. I have been thrilled with the new learning in language teaching methods and planning, and also the cultural approach in language. The professors in all these courses are the models of their class materials. These have been all beyond my expectations.

Returning to school was my praiseworthy decision!

 

Since you are new to Eugene, how have you been enjoying it? Have you been able to do anything fun or exciting in the area? Is there anything you really want to see or do that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

On my way to Umpqua Hot Spring in OR

Yes, I have been enjoying living in Eugene. This city has particular characteristics. It has such a refined country mood, so I have been feeling as if I am in the middle of East America and Europe. I felt this especially when I visited a small gallery in an eclectic neighborhood, I captured some degree of flying humanistic freestyles. So many common individuals expressed their own ideas through life-friendly materials and usages. There were invisible orders for respect other individuals among the freedom as well.

I also went to a beer brewery recently, and businesses in Eugene seem to operate peacefully. Everybody with family or friends seems to be comfortable to stay to have some food from a food truck right outside and listen to live music, or play a variety of board or card games.

 

With Winter term well underway, the MA project proposals are due in just a few weeks! Can you tell us a bit about what kind of project you are thinking of doing?

When I was assigned to the MA project, I asked myself exactly what specific area of teaching Korean I wanted to dig into. Without hesitation, I pointed out the word “honorifics.” During my Korean teaching experiences, I noticed that the usage of honorifics is a hidden obstacle for most learners.  Honorifics are weaved with cultural features and flavors. How exciting to untwist the invisible lump of honorifics! This project would go with many types of research and also be somewhat agonizing to get more clear goals. However, I will one day hear my future students’ expression, “Learning honorifics is an interesting and fascinating language learning process!”

 

Outside of LTS classes, have you been able to do any work around campus? Internships or GE positions? Tell us a bit about that

Pumpkin carving party in YLC at UO

Yes, I have been working as a GE with the Korean classes at Oregon State University language teaching since I started my MA program at the UO. Current applied technology in education enables me in Eugene to work for OSU in Corvallis. Via online, working with the students’ Korean language is an exciting and rewarding process. I listen to the students’ recording and send written and if needed, individual recording feedback in Korean. Sometimes, I meet students via Skype. I admire the students’ work and their gradual achievements. Also, I am working as a GE from this winter term in the Linguistic Department at the UO. I strongly realized that studying as a student in the LTS MA program is far beyond studying language teaching. Most of our cohort have gotten their GE positions. It is an absolutely beautiful balance between the theoretical study and practical experiences in an educational ground.

 

When you’re not studying or working hard, what do you like to do for fun? (Either here in Eugene, or back home with your family)

I love to travel to new places if some conditions are available such as money, time, and someone who enjoys a trip with me. I hope to get a long break very soon, and I wish to visit Korea to travel a few cities in Korea with my mother to take pleasure with the local food and culture. I also like to meet friends and enjoy a cup of tea or beer while talking. Often these days, I love to have the simple enjoyment of watching YouTube.  I love to hear people’s life stories through the computer screen because I am very much a people person. Isn’t it ironic?

 

 

 

January 21, 2020
by krobin14
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LTS testimonial from recent graduate Tera. Thank you Tera!

 

LTS Alumni Tera in France

Dear Keli,

I wanted to share a brief anecdote about a job I just applied for. One
of their required questions stated: Explain how you would design and
facilitate a class session in an academic beginning- or
intermediate-level integrated reading and writing ESL class. Explain
what you hope to accomplish in this class session, what specific
activities will support the diverse student population, and how this
activity connects to a larger unit and to the course as a whole. (Please
limit your response to 750 words).

Thanks to all of the work we did in your curriculum class and in the MA
project, this question was very easy to answer. I only had to refer back
to one of my completed lesson plans and translate that into an essay
format.

I just wanted to express my gratitude for the great preparation I
received from LTS to tackle questions like this!

Best,
Tera

January 17, 2020
by krobin14
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Student Spotlight with Reagan (Jing) Yu

Reagan (Jing) Yu is a current LTS student from China. He has been studying in the United States for 7 years, and is in his second term of the MA program. Reagan also works at Yamada Language Center teaching Cantonese.

Having fun in Hong Kong

Hi Reagan! Please tell us all a bit about yourself

Hello! My name is Reagan (Jing) Yu. I am from Guangzhou, China. I’m currently in my 7th year of studying abroad in the U.S. (3 years in Maine, 1 year in New York and 2 years in Oregon). As you can probably tell, I move around a lot, and I enjoy the excitement of seeing unfamiliar landscapes, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. One of the fun facts about me is that, by 20, I have traveled to all Chinese provinces and 30 of the U.S. states.

 

We’re beginning Winter term now, but were you able to do anything fun for holiday break?

Yes! I decided to go back to China for winter break since my cousin was getting married. I was in my hometown Guangzhou for 2 weeks, but also got to backpack to Xi’an, Shanghai and Huizhou.

 

Exploring nature in Maine

What made you decide to apply for the LTS program?

One of my parents is Hakkah and the other is Hokkien, but I grew up in the biggest Cantonese-speaking city in China, where Mandarin is the official language. I have been exposed to many different languages since I was a toddler. I have actively observed how languages are used, acquired and taught when I was growing up. I have always dreamed of becoming a teacher. For languages especially, I have had “weird” ways of approaching them, and I put a lot of thought into how I would put them into rules to help people understand. I think I spent more time imagining myself up on the podium then actually paying attention to the class when I was going to school.

I majored in language education when I was a freshman in New York, but with the realization of my lack of deep, scientific linguistics background, I eventually transferred to UO and majored in Linguistics. Therefore joining LTS was a more than logical decision. LTS is the best fit for me, in which I will be able to apply my “fresh out of the oven” linguistics knowledge to what I want to do: teaching.

Also, who wouldn’t want to stay in Oregon for longer?

 

Having finished the first two terms of the LTS program, how have things been going for you so far?

Things have been going great. I think I have gotten to know most of the cohort very well. We as a group have also established a good network both academically and personally. I believe it makes researching much easier if you can casually drink beers with the people who are working on the same things, because people will express their ideas without holding back. It is true though, even without the beer, we have had a lot of opportunities to exchange our thoughts and brainstorm with each other during the first 2 terms and it has been very helpful.

Other than that, I took a few weeks to get used to the grad school life, where finding a balance is a major necessity. Between school and work; literature and science; Japanese 101 on Netflix and Spanish 101 on Duolingo; junk food and an oversized bag of spinach; water and beer… at last I think I have reached a good balance point at this time and I am ready for more challenges to come.

 

I know that you have been teaching Cantonese at Yamada Language Center, can you tell us about that experience?

Reagan with his Cantonese class at YLC

Yes. The class itself is very fun and engaging (I hope my students agree!). It belongs to the self study language program under the Yamada Language Center that students can take for 1-2 credits per term. This class is designed to be student-centered and focuses on interpersonal communication as well as cultural awareness.

I got involved with Yamada 2 years back when I was simply talking to the director, Jeff Magoto, about the idea of having a Cantonese class. And through countless obstacles we (99% Jeff) made the class happen, and it has been the most popular self-study class ever since.

We have had many students from different backgrounds take the class, and we have formed a great, and welcoming Canto community.

 

Outside of studying hard, and working at YLC, what do you like to do in your free time?

I am a big backpacker and tea drinker. I also enjoy playing the guitar, the keyboard and some other instruments for fun.

Archery and reading literature are also what I would do on a weekly routine. (At least recently)

For the rest of the time, I love to drink Japanese beer and whiskey.

 

MA project proposals are due in February (no pressure!), but have you decided on a topic yet? Anything about it you’d like to share with us?

Yes! I am the only one in LTS (that I know of) this year that is going to conduct an actual study for MA project, so I will have to start recruiting and running participants as soon as winter term starts.

My topic is:“The 2-way influence of absolute pitch & tones and its pedagogical application for adult non-tonal language speakers”

I am aiming to find some correlations between tones in music and tones in Cantonese (or any tonal languages), in order to come up with potentially better pedagogical approaches to the acquisition and teaching of tones of tonal languages.

I will be working in the linguistics lab under Dr. Melissa Baese-Berk’s supervision.

 

With students in Gansu, China

 

Thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you!

January 10, 2020
by krobin14
0 comments

Faculty Spotlight- Kris Kyle

This Faculty Spotlight post features Dr. Kris Kyle. We are very excited to welcome him as our newest Linguistics/LTS Faculty. Kris joined our team in Fall 2019.

 

Newest LTS Faculty Dr. Kris Kyle

We are very glad to have you join our faculty! What drew you to the University of Oregon and the Linguistics Department?

Kris on first visit to UO

Thanks! I am very happy to be here. This department is a great place to be for a number of reasons. First, I was really drawn to the functional perspective to language that is taken by all of the faculty members. My own research into second language acquisition and second language assessment falls firmly within the larger functional paradigm (and specifically within usage-based language learning), so I really feel like I fit in theoretically. Second, I really appreciate the diversity of the research interests that the faculty hold – I get to learn something new almost every Friday at the Gloss colloquium talks! Finally, I really appreciate the collegiality of the faculty, students, and staff in the department. The Linguistics Department most certainly is a warm and happy family!

How will you be involved in the LTS program? What do you look forward to contributing to it?

To start, I will be teaching the Research Methods course (Winter 2020) and the Assessment (Spring 2020) course for the LTS program. I will likely also teach courses related to corpus linguistics and second language acquisition in the future. I look forward to helping students design research projects and/or think critically about the ways in which language proficiency is/has been/can be assessed!

Tell us about your experiences teaching in Korea. How did they lead you to the research questions you are asking now?

A recent trip to give a talk at Korea National University of Education in Cheongjui

I started my language teaching career in South Korea in 2006 (and taught there for almost three years). I had previously earned a BA in English and Spanish, and had taught 8th-grade English for one year at a private secondary school in Arkansas. I started out teaching at an after school test-prep school (hakwon) in Seoul, where I taught TOEFL writing and TOEFL speaking courses, primarily to middle-school age children. After doing that for seven months or so, my wife and I decided to leave Seoul and work for a rural school district (in Danyang-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do). In that position, I traveled to a different school each week and primarily taught middle-school conversation and “American culture”. Whereas my first job was extremely structured (and we were expected NOT to deviate from the prescribed lesson plans), my rural job was extremely unstructured. I had to create a curriculum on my own and generate all materials. It was in this position that I truly learned that I had a lot more to learn! After a year in Danyang, my wife and I were offered positions at Yonsei University (Wonju campus). In this position, I taught courses in conversation and also in TOEIC and TOEFL test prep. I found that I really enjoyed teaching university-aged students, which became a catalyst for future education. After returning from South Korea in 2009, I began graduate school (MA from Colorado State in 2011, PhD from Georgia State in 2016) where I continued to teach English for academic purposes (and writing in particular).

Some of my recent and current research explores the validity of standardized second language assessment tools (and in particular assessments of speaking and writing proficiency). The seeds for this research began early in my career as a test prep instructor, particularly as I grappled with how speaking and writing tasks were evaluated. One thing I am really interested in is the characteristics of what makes one sample second language (L2) writing or speaking “better” or seem more proficient than another. There are of course individualized factors that contribute to this, but there also seem to be a number of linguistic predictors as well (this is what I am really interested in).

What is an example of something you are currently working on that may interest L2 professionals?

Kris eating Galbi in the Danyang with friends (2007)

I am currently working on a project (funded by ETS) that explores the linguistic demands of attending a US university. In particular, I am focusing on the degree to which the language used in technology-mediated environments (e.g., Canvas) is substantively different from the language used in “traditional” learning environments. The direct purpose of the project is to inform the development of the TOEFL by helping to ensure that the language demands of the assessment tasks are similar to those of a university experience (including interaction in technology-mediated learning environments). This research (and other corpus-based research) also has direct implications for English for academic purposes classrooms because we want to ensure that the text types (i.e., registers, genres), task types, and linguistic features that we focus on in our classrooms align with what students will encounter in university settings.

Do you have any words of wisdom for current or future LTS students?

Graduate school can be stressful, but it is also rewarding! I would encourage LTS students to get as many teaching opportunities as possible, and find as many opportunities to be mentored by experienced teachers as possible. I would also encourage LTS students not to forget to have a little fun and to forge meaningful relationships with the other students in your cohort. I am still in contact with many of the individuals in my MA cohort, many of whom are language teaching professionals.

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