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