Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

June 18, 2020
by LTSblog

LTS students think back on the remote term

Our remote Spring term is now over, a much-awaited break is here, and LTS students are free to … well, they are still free just to mostly stay at home!

LTS students are also teachers, even when they are not teaching. They are always thinking about their own (future or current) students as they consider what learning and teaching means to them. Some of the LTS students share their thoughts below on what they have learned from this remote learning term.

LTS students together on campus, following the motto ‘hang out but space out’

I’ve learned that language classes can be done online and there are so many ways to interact with students, even young students! However, I think face to face classes won’t be replaced by online classes. Students still need in-class time to learn languages and practice in an environment. In this term, the micro-teaching workshops gave me lots of ideas for teaching online and I’ve learned lots of strategies for class management. Although this term was hard, I learned some new things and adjusted to the new life.  —Lily

I learned that it’s very important to set boundaries especially during trying times. Early on in the quarter, I noticed myself working long hours for my GE and for school simply because there was no separation between my work and home. I think, especially as teachers, we are prone to overworking and to keep working even when we should be done. This term really demonstrated to me how that is not a sustainable option and that we as teachers and students need to take a break so, when we come back to our work, we can do our best. — Johanna

 Over the past 2.5 months working and studying from home, I have learned that creating spaces that have specific purposes is very important. In general when a grad student, it can be difficult to take breaks, especially if you have work and other life obligations as well, let alone adding a global pandemic to the equation. I see just how resilient we have all been in creating community online and being supportive of each other. There is a definite fatigue that goes along with getting all of your input online; however, I think that there are extraordinary opportunities with integrating it with traditional classroom learning. — Leigh

 Last term’s social-distance was not easy being a student and having a GE teaching position. On the other hand, it was a valuable experience to be in a virtual educational space. I tried to adjust and enjoy myself in the new technological teaching & learning environment because these new unexpected situations, combined with the somewhat expected trends, were inevitable. This new technologically-driven style was expected to happen eventually. However, the sudden happening of COVID-19 may have pushed towards us to a new lifestyle a little earlier than expected. — Cathy

I learned so many things!! As a GE for Japanese department, at first it was so hard to connect with students online without face to face connections. At the same time, I was able to explore many online teaching ideas and strategies! These experiences will definitely help me teach languages in the future. As for learning, it did not stop me from enjoying LTS courses. However, I missed my classmates and playing sports together (I hope we can gather sometime soon!)… — Yoshi

While I haven’t had to teach any classes during this transition to remote learning, I have been a student throughout it, and it has taught me many things about myself as a learner, and also about our educators, and the work they do for us.

Learning online, exclusively, has been very challenging, and it’s shocking how draining it can be, despite hardly moving. Balancing my screen time with other activities has been an important step for me to maintain my ability to function during all of this! Reaching out and benefitting from the cohort has also been one of the things that has kept me sane. Leaning on those relationships that we have built in the previous terms has been really helpful in dealing with the stress of the new learning environment, and the uncertainty of the near future.

Lastly, just from the (relatively) small amount of work that I have had to do through Zoom and other remote learning platforms, I can really see how hard our instructors must be working to continue to provide us with our education. We are all in this together, and I am really grateful for what all of the LTS faculty have been able to do to be there for us, and try to make the best of this situation. Between the cohort and the faculty, I have never once felt like I was completely lost or without someone to talk to.  — Dustin

The presence of COVID-19 was a major challenge as a graduate student. The constant health concerns for myself and my loved ones was overwhelming. I could not escape from those stresses. The necessary implementation of social distancing made this experience more taxing. However, there were goals and deadlines to be met for the term. These may have been what kept structure in my life, outside of online synchronous zoom classes, and ultimately aided me in this time. Yet the standard student stresses (e.g., academics, work, social inequality, etc.) were ever present. There was fatigue, much more than expected or planned for.

Zoom sessions became more therapeutic in a sense. Teaching and learning through zoom were a near daily highlight for me. My screen time grew exponentially, possibly greater than my “gamer junkie” years. The complete online system was not without some problems. There were occasional technical issues that would prevent learning for those unfortunate enough to have them happen. As a personal side, my eyesight has worsened. However, having practice teaching and learning in the complete online synchronous format allowed us to experiment with teaching strategies and materials (online and from in our own respective spaces). — Tommy

This pandemic has presented a new set of challenges for us all. Being a graduate student and GE is a challenge in itself. Not having to go to class freed up some time from not having to physically travel to the classroom, but it also caused a lot of mental fatigue from having to sit in the same spot most of the day and be on zoom calls. What helped me was scheduling physical activity into my daily routine as well as making sure to give myself a break when getting mentally burned out from school or work. — Connor

Teaching online during the COVID 19 crisis has been a totally new experience. It is challenging: in almost every session, we would meet a different issue. However, by solving these issues together with the students, we also generate interesting teaching and learning opportunities. Eventually, we were able to get used to the online model and get the most out of it. I didn’t expect the knowledge of teaching with technology that we learned in LTS would be applied so soon, but it is definitely a good thing to always be ready. I think online teaching is absolutely a viable way of teaching, if enough structure is put into it, we can benefit it even after COVID 19.  — Reagan


June 10, 2020
by LTSblog

Student spotlight Yoshihisa

こんにちは! Hi, I’m Yoshi from Japan. You might be imagining a green monster in Mario brothers and you are maybe right! Actually, I am very good at jumping. In fact, I was able to jump higher than my apartment (Oh my apartment does not jump at all…). Anyway, I’d love to answer some questions!

Thank you Yoshi! First, how are you doing during this very unusual term?

I am doing ok! I guess this term is tough for everyone since we cannot go to coffee shops, meet friends, take classes on campus, and so on. However, we can meet classmates and professors online! (The picture below seems many students felt the computer screen was bright.) I also learned so many online materials and ways for language teaching. I believe this experience will allow me to help students better!

Shades day in an early Zoom meeting

What did you decide to focus on during your time in the LTS program?

I am interested in Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) because TBLT has potential for meeting each student’s needs and giving many opportunities for students to practice real-life communicative situations.

From my experience of studying English and teaching junior high and high school students in Japan, I found out that students are diverse in so many ways and we must meet each student’s needs. In addition, when people around the world can communicate anywhere and anytime, it is crucial to support students to be ready for successful communication with people around the world who may have different native languages, different cultures, religions, and so on.

I believe TBLT is a great solution to address these goals. There are different definitions of TBLT, but everyone agrees that it utilizes tasks at the core of the language teaching. The emphasis is on the completion of the tasks instead of students’ accuracy such as their grammatical mistakes. I found it similar to a real-world situation! Students usually try the tasks at the beginning of the lesson without learning grammar and vocabulary beforehand. By the end of the task, each student has discovered what they can do and what they cannot do. Here, each student learns and practices what they need with differentiation techniques.

I am writing my final project about TBLT and Differentiated Instruction, and now I am putting together a literature review, surveys from teachers and students in Japan, and document analyses. I am really looking forward to the completed final project!

Congratulations on your project so far! As someone who is close to finishing the program, do you have any words of advice for future LTS students?

Yes!! But first, I’d like to say you made the right decision, future LTS students!! This is a wonderful place where people love language teaching, people love helping each other, and people love hanging out outside the school.

First advice: Please take a break! Hang out with your colleagues.

This is graduate school and you will have so many things to do. You might need to read many articles or write a long essay in one day. Some of you might have a GE position and need to work for about 20 hours a week in addition to your study. It is a lot… There is no time to do something other than studying… Oh, that is not true!! Taking a rest from study will help you work better! Eugene has many good restaurants, coffee shops, and nature. Go outside!!

Alton Baker Park

I run around Alton Baker park every day. I saw Keli and Robert kayaking there once.

On Spencer Butte, the air is really delicious! On the summit, you will have a magnificent view!

Spencer Butte

Spencer Butte from a different angle










Second advice: Talk to your professors!

You will learn so many new things and some of them will be hard to understand. The theories and the practices are different, and you might need to know the first-hand experiences. Ask your professors! They always welcome your questions and love helping their students.

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