LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

August 7, 2018
by LTSblog
1 Comment

Alumni spotlight: Tiffany Van Pelt

This alumni post focuses on the international adventures of Tiffany Van Pelt, who graduated from LTS in 2015 and was one of the first students to post on our LTS social media. Here is an update of what she has been doing since then.

Tiffany with soursop

What have you been doing since you graduated from LTS?

Since I graduated I have been living and working in Libreville, Gabon in central Sub-Saharan Africa. I first came here for a 6-month internship with the Gabon-Oregon Center, then returned to work in various language schools over the last two years. I teach general English courses, English for Specific Purposes, and TOEFL preparation courses to adults and teens, and I have provided some professional development training to local English teachers enrolled at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Libreville. I also do French to English translation work.

What has been most meaningful for you about living in Gabon?

For me this answer has two aspects, the professional and the personal. Professionally, the most meaningful thing for me has been being able to work with my students over the long term and watch them improve. It’s so fulfilling to see students going on to use their English skills in their professional lives outside the classroom. 

ESC meeting July 2018

 Personally, the most meaningful thing about living here has been the ability to rebuild my fluency in French to the point where I can clearly express myself and form deeper friendships in my community. I have a BA in French from the UO, but spent about a decade without speaking it on a regular basis. It’s a dream come true to be able to live in a francophone country and regain those language skills, and I believe it helps me remain empathetic and encouraging towards my students as they work to reach their goals in English.

I hear you have an exciting new adventure coming up – could you tell us about it?

Yes! I recently accepted a position as the 2019 English Language Fellow for Madagascar. I will be leaving Libreville in January to begin work there with the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Antananarivo. I will be working with local teachers to train on implementation of a new secondary school curriculum, as well as visiting teachers around the country to provide professional development seminars. In addition to this, I’m hoping to be able to provide some extra ESP instruction to local groups as opportunities arise.

What do you hope to learn as an ELF?

I am hoping to learn how to navigate working with local governments and institutions a way that is productive and beneficial for everyone involved.  I’m also looking forward to learning from and brainstorming with the local teachers. I am excited to get their perspectives and ideas towards the implementation of pedagogical innovations in environments that may have a substantial lack of resources. 

Thanksgiving in Gabon

Now that you’ve been teaching for awhile, what do you think has been the most valuable aspect of your time in LTS?

There is very little access to English books, save for those few that are imported, in Gabon. It’s very difficult and expensive to receive shipments of goods from abroad. The curriculum and materials development experiences I had in the LTS program have been invaluable in mitigating this issue and helping me develop my personal library of teaching materials. 

Do you have any advice for current or future LTS students?

I have three pieces of advice for LTS students: first, take as many opportunities as you can to get in the classroom and practice! Second, start building your materials libraries now, (particularly if you plan to work abroad), as part of your smaller projects for classes or as part of your final project. These resources will come in handy later. Finally, take the time to cultivate and maintain friendships with the LTS community. Teaching English isn’t for everyone – much less living abroad! The friends that you make during the program will understand your passion for this profession and will be a huge source of support and community both now and in the future.

 

June 15, 2018
by LTSblog
1 Comment

Alumni Spotlight Kai Liu

Kai Liu graduated from LTS in 2014 with an MA project titled Using Gamification in Chinese Teaching: A Gamified University Chinese Course for Advanced Students in the US.  She very quickly started working as a Chinese Instructor in an innovative program in one of the more beautiful places in the world… Hawai’i!  She recently stopped by in Eugene on her way home from a conference to say hello to her professors and friends. Read more about her path since LTS below.

Kai with some of her students

What is your position now?

I am the instructor of the Chinese Language Flagship Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. I develop materials and teach Flagship courses (advanced Chinese courses). I also teach beginning to intermediate-level Chinese courses at the East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL) Department at UH.

Have you been involved in any special projects and/or conferences?

I am lucky to have been involved in the Green Ideas Simulation Project  spearheaded by the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center (Tech Center). This project aims to prepare Flagship students for their internship during the Flagship Capstone Year abroad. I helped pilot this simulation project in one of my Flagship courses at UH. More specifically, I developed instructional materials on how to write resumes and cover letters in Chinese and how to prepare for job interviews in Chinese. I also created rubrics for various tasks in this project. In addition, I shared my instructional materials and pilot experience with the Tech Center and other Flagship programs. Now several Chinese Flagship Programs participate in this project each year. This project is expected to be piloted in more languages.

Kai knows how to enjoy teaching

Apart from the simulation project, I am also involved in revamping the beginning and intermediate Chinese curricula at UH. My colleagues and I are integrating blended learning and flipped classroom into these courses by creating more communicative activities, online instructional videos, and individualized learning materials.

Is there anything from your time in LTS that you still think about now?

Yes! The Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) courses are extremely useful! When I first started working at UH, I attended an online teaching orientation for faculty and I felt like I already knew how to use most of the technological tools mentioned in the orientation.

I also think about Professor Holland’s Second Language Teaching Practice class. I remember how excited both LTS students and AEI students were in a communicative class. To create the excitement I once saw in that class, I have been trying to invite more guests into my classes and provide opportunities for my students to use Chinese in local community events.

I still remember what Dr. Keli Yerian said in her commencement speech to my cohort: It is easy to fall back into traditional teaching approaches than applying what we learned in LTS to our classes. Her words serve as a daily reminder for myself to keep creating more communicative and engaging activities for my students.

How did you learn about LTS?

I first came to UO as an exchange student in the Oregon International Internship Program (OIIP). I learned about this program through Dr. Yerian and an LTS graduate Li-Hsien Yang.

Do you have any advice for current or future LTS students?

Apply what you learned in LTS program to your own classes. Challenge yourself and try new materials and new communicative activities. Do not be content with what you have.

Enjoy each other’s company and learn from each other!  I learned a great deal from other LTS students in and out of the classroom.

Keli and Kai outside Straub Hall in May

April 14, 2018
by LTSblog
2 Comments

Alumni Spotlight Emily Letcher

Emily in Mexico – Celebrating Day of the Dead!

This week’s post highlights Emily Letcher, who graduated in 2016 from LTS. Emily began thinking about a future in language teaching as an undergraduate at UO, taking Second Language Acquisition and Teaching classes. She finished her MA degree with a project titled, “Teaching Interlanguage Pragmatics of Disagreement in a Secondary EFL Context Using Film and TV Shows”, and took off to Thailand to teach middle school before settling in Mexico at a university.

What is your life like now, almost 2 years after graduating from LTS?

From Eugene, Oregon to Bangkok, Thailand. From Bangkok to Miahuatlan, Mexico…I grew up in a city of 160,000 people, moved to another of over 8 million, and then decided to settle down in a relatively unknown, southern city in Mexico of about 45,000. I say “settle down” because I now live with my five adopted dogs. All of them are former street dogs here, each with their own story. It’s not always easy to care for them, but it’s definitely worth it.

One of Emily’s rescue dogs playing in the yard

What did you do in Thailand?

Emily with students in Bangkok

Through LTS internships with the US-Thai Distance Learning Organization, which had brought Thai high school students to Oregon several times, I was fortunate enough to make a strong connection with Thailand before even setting foot there. After graduation, I went to Assumption College Thonburi and taught for six months in their English program. Shortly after I arrived, the beloved King of Thailand, Rama IX, passed away. I witnessed an amazing movement of unity and mourning within the country. Bangkok was a whirlwind experience of culture and learning for me.

Traveling in Thailand

What has turned out to be most useful for you from SLAT/LTS?

I’ve just recently completed my first year as a professor at La Universidad de la Sierra Sur (UNSIS). Students here must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and a lot of what we do is to prepare students for that exam. It’s a good challenge for me as a teacher, one that I enjoy. In the LTS program, I focused on curriculum design, so I was extremely excited about, and grateful for, the opportunity here to dive right in and do meaningful curriculum work. I recently wrote a textbook for our first-year, accelerated graduate program. Now I am teaching the course. It’s amazing to me to go through the entire cycle, beginning with those lessons in LTS, to stepping out on my own and developing a full-fledged project, to putting it into practice in a classroom and seeing its results.

Centro de Idiomas at UNSIS -the English department

Do you have any advice or thoughts for current and future students?

Always be open to new opportunities. It may be a tired phrase, but it’s true. I could never have predicted moving to Miahuatlan de Porifirio Diaz, Mexico. It certainly wasn’t part of my ‘grand plan’. I came here with the idea of staying for a short time, but found so much more worth staying for.

A parade in Oaxaca – a city with a rich and artistic culture, two hours from Miahuatlan.

March 18, 2018
by Trish Pashby
0 comments

Alumni Spotlight: Li-Hsien Yang

Li-Hsien Yang graduated from the LTS Program with her MA in 2011. Since then, she has had a very interesting career in language teaching. We asked her to share some highlights.

Li-Hsien with Black Egg Hello Kitty at Hakone

What have you been doing since graduating?
I started my journey as a Chinese Flagship GTF (I believe they call it GE now). I started at the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) in 2010 as an LTS student, and I have been working at CASLS ever since (I signed my contract in the morning of my Terminal Project presentation day). What could a be better surprise than an actual employment contract? I began my first official job title as a Chinese curricula assistant. I worked with the curriculum team for various online Chinese learning projects, Chinese assessment item writing, and grading. Gradually, my role shifted toward working with specific international students. Currently I work with partners overseas to do customized programs for international students. I develop programs from 3 weeks to 10 months long with integration of intercultural experiences, place-based theme module learning about global issues, language pedagogy and American education systems. Every year, I have about 70 students on campus or in the community for various purposes.

Li-Hsien (front, left) and 3-Week Oregon Experience Program for Nagoya University and Meiji Gakuin University students

What jobs or activities in the field of language teaching have been most interesting for you?
I love my current job. I am able to develop a program from a program design prospective, but I also get to do the nitty gritty logistics such as course syllabi design, lesson plans and both summative and formative assessments. I am always stimulated by my students’ enthusiastic positive energy and beautiful smiles. This is the most rewarding part in the world languages field, to work with international students. I love to try new ideas on my students and this has been very fun and full of surprises.

Farewell Party with Oregon International Internship Program student interns, principals, mentor teachers and host families

What advice do you have for new language teachers?
Self-care is essential!
There is no perfect lesson plan.
Be flexible.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I have been getting more interested in gardening, and I have started planning what to plant this year. Also, I enjoy trying different cuisines and having great conversations with diverse people.

Li-Hsien (center) with Oregon Experience colleagues Isabelle Sackville-West (Linguistics Dept undergraduate student) and Zach Patrick-Riley (current LTS student)

Thank you, Li-Hsien! We wish you much continued success in the field of language teaching–and a great garden this year!

February 4, 2018
by Trish Pashby
0 comments

Devon Hughes’s Fulbright Practicum in Taiwan

Recent LTS graduate Devon Hughes (Fall 2017) spent her final term in the program as the first Fulbright Taiwan FSE Teacher Practicum Program Grantee (based out of Changhua County). We were delighted to find out more about her exciting adventure.

Devon Hughes hiking in the Central Mountains

What were your main activities and responsibilities?

As I was piloting this internship for both LTS and Fulbright Taiwan, I got to determine my own schedule and duties, with the guidance of a local English resource coordinator. I set three primary learning goals from which came my activities and responsibilities.

First, I sought to gain experience teaching in junior high EFL classrooms while encouraging and developing EFL students’ learning motivation and ability. I did this by teaching weekly at three junior high schools in Changhua County. I also observed and presented at various schools around the county.

Devon with student in Changhua County

Second, I wanted to broaden my perspective – as well as that of the local teachers and students – on international issues while gaining insight into the Taiwanese EFL education system at all levels. I worked toward this goal in various ways. I traveled around Changhua County to observe and chat with both Taiwanese and native English-speaking teachers about their classroom experiences, techniques, and views on local and federal education policies. I was an observer and occasional guest lecturer in two undergraduate TESOL courses at the National Changhua University of Education. I also participated in English military service officer meetings at the Changhua International Education and English Teaching Resource Center (CIEETRC) so to learn how military officers with advanced English proficiency and experience living in English-speaking countries support their schools’ English language learning goals. I even attended an international conference with the CIEETRC director on international education for primary and secondary schools.

My third learning goal was to assist in developing English teaching resources and materials and to share English teaching strategies with Changhua County English teachers. I did so by working weekly at CIEETRC on materials development, delivering professional development workshops, and meeting with elementary and junior high school teachers and principals. Together, we worked to increase critical thinking and English use in Changhua County classrooms.

What were some of the highlights of the experience?

Devon with other Fulbright grantees at beach cleaning event

How much time do you have? Haha!

An initial highlight was meeting the other Fulbright grantees at orientation and hearing about their fascinating work. They had come to Taiwan for a variety of reasons and represented a wide range of academic backgrounds. I had the chance to get to know some of these Fulbrighters better at subsequent events like Double Ten Day, Thanksgiving, and a beach cleaning service trip.  Each time, I thought, “Whoa. What cool people!”

Speaking of cool people, I got to see some familiar faces while abroad. The night I arrived in Taiwan, I had the great fortune of crossing paths with friend and former AEI colleague Rachel Drummond. She introduced me to another former UO duck, Lydia Shen, and we went out for massages and food at a local night market. Words can’t describe how incredible it was to arrive in a foreign place and immediately connect with a dear friend. A few weeks later, a former AEI student from Taiwan visited me and took me out for lunch and groceries. Such meetings with friends throughout my stay made “halfway around the world” feel like a much smaller distance.

Devon at President Tsai Ing-wen’s Double Ten party

Perhaps the biggest highlight was Double Ten weekend when I got to host my husband, who flew 24 hours each way to spend 96 hours with me. It was wonderful to show him around and to experience Taiwan with him, if only for a few days! I also had the incredible opportunity to attend President Tsai Ing-wen’s Double Ten party along with other Fulbrighters and dignitaries from around the world. I felt like I was in a comedy as I wobbled in my 5-inch heels on the red carpet and told people drinking cocktails, “Oh, I’m here teaching junior high English.”

There were many elements of Taiwanese culture itself that were highlights – the warm and sunny weather, the food (e.g. bubble tea, xiaolongbao, beef noodle soup, fresh tropical fruit), the night markets, and, most especially, the hospitality of the people. Oh, and the scooters! Every time I hitched a ride on the back of a friend’s scooter, I was overcome with awe. As we zipped through crowded streets or up mountain switchbacks, I could only think, “Wow. I am in Taiwan.”

Devon (right) snorkeling in Penghu

Speaking of travel, many highlights were my weekend trips around the island. Solo trips were made easier by Taiwan’s wonderfully efficient public transportation system. I got to explore big cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung, as well as natural sites like Taroko National Park, the central mountains, Penghu (an island archipelago off the west coast) and the southern beaches. One fond memory was snorkeling with a small group of Taiwanese tourists and feeling the language barrier fade away as we squealed and pointed out clown fish and coral.

Okay, one final highlight: I was staying in one night, scrolling through my LINE (social media) contact list when I suddenly realized that around 95% of my contacts were newfound Taiwanese friends. This may sound unremarkable, but to me it was wonderful because I had lived abroad before and had found that ex-pats tended to gravitate toward each other and make insular friend groups. I went to Taiwan hoping for a different experience. A more immersive experience. So, when looking at that contact list of colleagues, university students, and random friends, I felt a wave of gratitude. I had travelled alone to somewhere new, where I didn’t speak the native language, and had managed to make friends! I believe this is largely in part to how generous and warm the Taiwanese people are.

Devon (right) with her Changhua University of Education (NCUE) friends at temple of the Great Buddha statue (大佛寺) in Changhua City

Did you face anything especially surprising or challenging?

Yes, both. Some major challenges in the classroom were a) teaching junior high school students beginner-level English while keeping it interesting and relevant b) working with some students only once due to a quantity over quality approach and c) what my colleagues and I perceived as an overreliance on the L1 (by both teachers and students). I had many conversations with fellow teachers, professors, and the CIEETRC staff about how to best tackle these issues.

My biggest challenge, however, was not in the classroom. Halfway through my stay in Taiwan, I was involved in a head-on car collision during a trip in the mountains with a colleague. Thankfully, neither of us were injured, and I had friends and strangers help me back home to Changhua. Being involved in an accident so far away from loved ones was scary enough, but another, more traumatic car accident years ago made this situation even tougher to process. I found myself faced with the question, “Am I going to make a ____ decision out of fear?” Was I going to cut my internship short and return home? Would I avoid taking car and scooter rides? Would I keep traveling solo? I am so glad I had a support network both at home and in Taiwan to help and encourage me through that time.

Prof Frank (NCUE English dept.), Devon, and Frede (CIEETRC director) beside NCUE in Changhua

As for surprises, I was taken aback by the instant warmth and generosity of the people I met. I received so many thoughtful gifts and invitations. I can never pay them back for their kindness!

Another surprise was the peace that comes from feeling safe (almost) all the time. It’s wonderful. Taiwan is one of the safest places in the world. Experiencing that… travelling without fear (though always with a proper level of precaution), walking down streets without comment, getting lost with little worry… was a breath of fresh air.

A final, funny surprise was how Taiwanese food often reminded me of food from home (North Carolina). Taiwanese mom and pop restaurants serve what Americans call “sweet tea” at most

Devon trying “stinky tofu” at the Changhua Night Market

meals, collard greens cooked in pork fat, and beef stew that rivaled my grandmother’s. It was wild to try a “new” food only to discover that it tastes like home.

How has this experience contributed to your strengths as a language teacher?

My time in Taiwan helped me become more of a self-starter and willing to take risks, both in and out of the classroom. Since it was such an intense experience, I had to be flexible in new, high-stress situations, while remaining mindful of the needs of my students, co-teachers, and stakeholders. It made me a more well-rounded teacher as it provided me the opportunity to work for the first time with junior high students and beginner proficiency levels. I also honed my class observation and teamwork skills through multiple classroom visits and later discussions with colleagues. I also led several professional development workshops, which forced me to stay current and mindful of my own teaching practices. Finally, this experience abroad fostered in me a greater empathy for language learners. Living halfway around the world in a foreign language environment is a very humbling experience!

Devon (front center) with 9th grade students

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about this experience?

If you get the chance, visit Taiwan! You won’t regret it. Especially if you’re a tea drinker. The best oolong! 

What advice would you give an LTS student who is planning to do this internship in the future?

If it makes time and money sense, go for it! Be flexible and ready to say “yes” to any opportunity. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it (if not more). Yet, also remember to check-in daily with yourself and take care of yourself!

November 19, 2017
by Trish Pashby
0 comments

LTS Alumni Presentations at 2017 ORTESOL Conference

This year’s ORTESOL (Oregon Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) conference was held November 10th and 11th at the University of Oregon. The American English Institute hosted the two-day event in Agate Hall, which turned out to be a fine venue. The conference featured two plenaries on the theme of “Supporting Diverse Learners” and over 50 sessions facilitated by presenters from all over Oregon and beyond. Several LTS alumni were among these presenters. Read on for highlights from some of their sessions.

Maggie Mitteis and current LTS student Lee Huddleston

In a well-attended and highly interactive session titled “Teaching Tools for the Resilient Classroom” Maggie Mitteis (2016) introduced favorite activities of hers and fellow Peace Corps teachers accustomed to teaching in settings with limited (or no) technology and requiring much flexibility on the part of instructors. We played variations of the word game Taboo, an adaptation of Jenga that included language practice, and  a few raucous rounds of “Stop the Bus.” A group competition using letters from Bananagrams was also a big hit. All of these games were highly motivating and adaptable to almost any language classroom.  Note: These days Maggie is teaching locally at both Lane Community College and Downtown Languages.

Misti Williamsen

Misti Williamsen (2010) shared ideas for motivating students to read in her presentation “Going Beyond Summary: Engaging Students in Extensive Reading Through Projects.” She has found success inspiring lower level students at the American English Institute’s Intensive English Program to complete books through active participation in projects. In this session, Misti shared four of these: drawing character maps or timelines on posters, creating their own quizzes, videotaping a “commercial” for a book, and writing stories combining characters from multiple books. Misti brought along actual examples of all of these. Posters drawn by students covered three walls, and the audience was treated to the screening of several creative and highly entertaining student-made videos.

Liatris Myers

Liatris Myers (2015) presented “Digital Literacy Instruction in ESOL Courses: It’s Easier Than You Think”, which was inspired by her recent experience of creating a course and materials for teaching technology to low-level learners at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.  This session included step-by-step guidelines for approaching the design of this type of course, interacting with students, and creating learner-friendly materials. Admitting that she never considered herself particularly tech-savvy, Lia attributed her current comfort with using technology in the classroom to the four 1-credit CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) courses she completed while studying in the LTS program.

Jeff Magoto, Bené Santos, Joliene Adams, and Emily Masucci

Another popular session at ORTESOL was “The In-Class Flip: A Case for More Inclusion and Success” presented by Bené Santos (2009) and Joliene Adams (2017) with Jeff Magoto (faculty) and Emily Masucci (Anthropology Department graduate student), which featured a videotaped example taken directly from Bené’s Portuguese class at University of Oregon a week before (the clip is also part of a documentary by Emily Masucci about Bene’s life ). The example showed how to successfully implement blended learning by creating a classroom environment where students can go at their own pace in terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Joliene Adams presented the software H5P, which is a great interactive video tool teachers can use inside or outside the classroom.  In the second half of the session, participants had time to interact with H5P, engaging in blended learning themselves, and discussed ways they could blend/flip their own classrooms.

Other presentations by LTS alumni were “Creating ESL Textbooks Using Open Source Materials and Digital Tools” Sean McClelland (2011); “What We Teach: Conundrums in English Variation” Kelly McMinn (2007); and “Facilitating the Development of Argumentation Across Programs” Ilsa Trummer (2011).

LTS faculty also presented at the conference. Jeff Magoto is mentioned above co-presenting with Bené and Joliene. Laura Holland’s session “Working Backward Propels our Students Forward: Small Changes < Big Effects” covered (1) teaching pronunciation of individual words and practicing stress in longer sentences, (2) analyzing what makes 2 essay introductions “good and “bad,” (3) using film clips to explore why native speakers chose the forms they did to express the messages they are trying to convey, and (4) Backward Design for curriculum development.

See the full conference program here: ORTESOL 2017 Program  

October 19, 2017
by Trish Pashby
1 Comment

Six LTS Alumni Teaching at Tokyo International University

LTS student George Minchillo submitted this report on LTS alumni currently teaching at Tokyo International University. George is there now serving as an intern and will graduate from University of Oregon at the end of this term.

Please Give us a Brief Overview of Tokyo International University

Brick wall with shield and title of Tokyo International University

Welcome to Tokyo International University!

Tokyo International University is a Japanese university in the greater Tokyo area. Although the Global Teaching Institute (the university’s English language program and faculty) has only been around for close to 5 years, you wouldn’t be able to tell from its staff of about 50 instructors and the wide variety of activities and events that it sponsors for the university and surrounding community!

One of the biggest and most important missions of the GTI is cultural globalization and international cooperation, which is evidenced by the E-Track program (English Track: classes are taught primarily in English with some Japanese as a Second Language courses) comprised of students from many different countries who have come to Japan seeking a degree in Business, Economics, or English communication. The other program the GTI offers is the J-Track (Japanese Track: mostly Japanese students earning a Japanese degree) and this is comprised of the required English courses that all students at the university are required to take.

Six LTS alumni are currently members of the TIU faculty: Becky Lawrence, Ryan Felix, Annelise Marshall, Brandon Bigelow, Kodiak Atwood, and LeeAnn Genovese.

A woman showing a cell phone to a student

Becky Lawrence showing her Basic Writing student a photo about her experience at a Japanese festival.

What classes do you teach at TIU?

Becky: I teach four classes in the Global Teaching Institute. Three are core classes for J-Track students learning English. For these core classes, I teach Sections 3 and 4, which are pretty beginner levels (the levels go from 1-28). I teach English Comprehension (Reading) to both Sections 3 and 4, and Basic Writing to Section 4. The other class that I teach is Advanced Reading and Writing, and I teach the highest level of this particular class, which is an elective for J-Track students who are mostly juniors and seniors. I really enjoy all of my classes because they each present unique challenges. I like that I get to experience teaching beginner students and advanced students at the same time. It makes me more creative, and I regularly use techniques and activities that I learned in LTS!

Ryan Felix warming up his students with an exercise in frequency adverbs!

Ryan: I’ve been at TIU for four years now! Each year I’m assigned different classes to teach; this year I have reading and writing classes with Japanese students. I’ve also been teaching public speaking for the last three years in a separate program for international students studying business or international relations. At first, I was nervous about teaching it, having little public speaking experience myself, but I’ve learned so much!

Brandon: I graduated from the LTS program in 2013, and have been at TIU since September 2016. I teach English Comprehension and Basic Writing for freshmen Japanese students. I also teach Academic Composition for international students from countries including Vietnam, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia.

Kodiak Atwood posing for a photo with his students and co-teacher.

Kodiak: I’m currently teaching two listening classes and one speaking class to Japanese freshmen. The Japanese freshmen are really fun to work with and I have a lot of room to experiment and try new things out in the classroom. I’m currently implementing a gamified curriculum where all of the students are characters in a role-playing game and that’s going really well! I also teach an analytical reading and critical thinking course to international students. The international students are all advanced and occasionally native speakers, which is a welcome challenge and change of pace. We are able to cover really interesting topics and discuss complicated issues in class that I normally wouldn’t be able to do.Annelise: This year I’m teaching first year listening and speaking classes and a composition class focused on research writing.

George: I’m here as an intern, so I’m not regularly participating at the front of a classroom. However, there will be weekly opportunities for me to run a variety of workshops based on topics, skills, or functions that interest me (and hopefully interest the students). I also get to participate in a series of workshops for local Honda employees who are coming to the university for TOEIC training.

Which committee are you a part of?

Becky: All faculty are part of a specific committee that works to provide students to GTI faculty and students and make the GTI and TIU the best university it can be. I’m the SLI (Student Leadership Internship) Coordinator, which means that I work closely with J-Track and E-Track students who work part-time in the English Plaza. As Faculty Advisor, I’m responsible for ensuring that they have the support and training that they need to make the English Plaza a welcoming and educational place for all TIU students who want to come practice their English.

Annelise Marshall working with students in her Academic Composition class.

Ryan: I’m part of a committee that’s responsible for gathering and creating materials that teachers can use in their lessons.

LeeLee: Kodiak and I started our coordinator role: International Education Team. We started this role based on our observation that there is a lack of support for students interested in going abroad not related to the ASP (American Studies Program). The ASP is the largest study abroad program we have through TIU, where we send 120-130 students to Willamette University in Oregon for 10 months. ASP students have a lot of support, but other study abroad students are left to figure life out on their own. So, we decided to start doing what we could to help them. We do things like pre- and post-study abroad orientations, we advise and help students through the process of finding programs, we have even interviewed applicants to go abroad, and kept up communications with students as they were studying abroad. We have held multiple study abroad fairs in conjunction with the IEO (International Exchange Office). We discovered, encouraged, motivated and mentored international students (E-Track) currently at TIU to give cultural and educational presentations about their home countries in our plaza!

Kodiak: I am one of the International Education Coordinators. We are responsible for giving study abroad students the resources they need to be successful, creating opportunities for students to experience different cultures, and promoting internationalism around campus. We have been responsible from organizing the annual freshman trip to Oregon each year and give workshops and lessons related to study abroad.

Brandon: My committee focus is with the English Plaza Library, where I help maintain over 2,500 English books and continually add new and diverse options.

George: As the intern, you get to participate in all of the committees! I have a weekly rotation throughout all of the GTI committees that allows me to familiarize myself with their roles and duties, as well as help out with any of their current projects. At first it can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s also a unique opportunity and very insightful to see how the entire program comes together as a whole through these committees.

Brandon Bigelow posing with a group of students representing Indonesian culture for the TIU international fair.

What else do you do at TIU?

Becky: In addition to teaching, all faculty have to participate in either English Lounge, which is conversation time with students, or Academic Advising, which is helping with homework and essays. I chose to do English Lounge because I love talking with students every day. It’s awesome watching them blossom and try out new vocabulary and grammar as they talk about subjects they’re interested in.

Brandon: Additionally, I have the opportunity to chat with students on comfy couches about less formal, relaxing topics during English Lounge time.

Annelise: I also supervise the English-Speaking Society, a student-led club concentrated on using English for discussion and formal presentations.

George: I also get to participate in English Lounge and Academic Advising, which is pretty similar to the Conversation Partner program at UO. This has probably been my most favorite part of being at TIU, just because the students are fun to hang out with. At first it’s a little bit intimidating and it can be difficult to think of what to say, but then you realize that most of the students just want the opportunity to learn more about people from other countries and it becomes a very relaxing, fun experience.

Anything else you would like to share about TIU?

Becky: I really love working at TIU for many reasons. I love the wide range of students that I get to teach. I also love the working environment. All of the faculty are friendly and supportive. It’s nice to come to work and enjoy the people I am working with. It’s definitely like a family! We do things outside of work together, which is really nice when you’re living in a foreign country. It’s also nice to have a co-teacher that shares my same students, because we can plan our classes together and lean on each other for support. Not really TIU related, but I also really enjoy the Japanese semester system, because we have lots of vacation time. I’m looking forward to exploring South Korea, China, Thailand, and Taiwan in the upcoming months!  Finally, I really love that I have a network of LTS alumni here at TIU. It feels like a little piece of home even though I’m thousands of miles away!

Ryan: Teaching in Japan and at TIU has been an invaluable experience. I’m learning another language and culture—making friends and participating in local events has been personally very fulfilling. I’m also getting a better sense of what it means to be a professional in this field. Being a member of the Japanese Association for Language Teaching gives me access to talks and literature, as well as my own professional development opportunities. A great big thank you to LTS professors, and our great leader, Keli, who prepared us well to be in the field. It’s working!!

Walking into the TIU Campus Plaza, one can view the flags from many nations around the world.

Annelise: I love that at TIU I get to work with both Japanese students and international students from all over the world!

Brandon: TIU is incredibly welcoming. There is abundant respect and consideration for both the students and instructors. Being a part of the TIU community has been a true privilege.

Kodiak: I really enjoy working here! My coworkers and students are great, the class sizes are small, and I am able to try new and interesting things out in the classroom! 

George: One of the best things about TIU is that the working environment is very low stress. In my previous experiences studying Japanese and learning about Japanese culture, I had heard that the working environment in Japan is often one of high stress and long work hours. While each member of the GTI team is certainly busy, and may occasionally need to work a few additional hours, there is no sense of stress and everyone really seems to enjoy their time here. I really hope that I can become part of the team myself one day!

 

October 14, 2017
by zachp
0 comments

Spanish Language Learning APP LingroToGo!

Check out today’s post about a revolutionary Spanish language learning application called LingroToGo. Featured is Dr. Julie Sykes–our very own LTS faculty member and Director of CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies)–along with a couple LTS students who have worked on the app.

Dr. Julie Sykes presenting to the LTS cohort about CASLS and LingroToGo

Julie, thank you so much for joining us today. Please share with us what makes this APP so special:

LingroToGo is the first comprehensive app that explicitly targets language learning strategies, pragmatics, and function-based language learning. Moving beyond the translation of words and phrases, the app really helps people work on how to use the words and structures they learn in a meaningful way.

What about the pragmatic component of it?

Pragmatics really focuses on the exchanges of meaning and the avoidance of miscommunication whenever possible. It is exciting to see pragmatic components of language treated systematically throughout the app.

And there’s video too?

Yep. There are a robust set of videos that focus on strategies and pragmatics, the two pieces of a language learning curriculum which are often not seen in teaching and learning materials.

Awesome! And just curious, where did the name LingroToGo come from?

The Lingro part of the name comes from our collaborative partner, Lingro Learning and the ToGo piece parallels the name of one of our other tools, LinguafolioToGo, a comprehensive e-portfolio designed for language classroom.

LTS (2017) alum Dan White, who developed the Cryptogram feature of the Lingro App as his Master’s Project, had this to say about his time working on Lingro: “The Lingro App was a very fortuitous opportunity for me, as I was hoping to find a project that revolved around creating a game or puzzle for language teaching. I had never done app development before, but I was familiar with coding. Fortunately, Julie gave me the opportunity, and the app development team were very patient with me as I learned how to develop the Cryptogram. I was so pleased that my contribution made it into the final product, and it really stands out when you are using the app as one of the most challenging features. I can take this app development experience with me in the future, and I look forward to developing my own language apps.”

Current LTS student and CASLS GE (Graduate Employee) Zach Patrick-Riley: “This app is simply revolutionary. It does a perfect job of showing what 21st century education should include; not just a focus on language but strategies for successful interpersonal communication and autonomy building. My favorite part has to be the videos in each section. Maybe I am a little biased because I have helped create a number of them, but they are so fun and engaging to watch! Seriously, check out this app, te va a encantar y aprender español muy rápido.”

Other LTS students who have contributed to this app include Christopher Daradics (2016) and Valeria Ochoa (2017).

LingroToGo is available for download for IOS right now @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lingrotogo/id1273904866?mt=8

Android is coming very soon as well! In fact, if you would like to take part in Beta testing please sign up here:  https://goo.gl/forms/VSGlmNBIfBS26yL13

July 11, 2017
by LTSblog
0 comments

Alumni Spotlight Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy with graduates from her Informatica English class

Sarah Murphy graduated from LTS in 2015 and traveled straight to a position she found as an English Professor in Mexico. Her MA Project was ‘An Open Educational Resources Portfolio for Adult Education ESL’.

Where are you working now and what are you teaching?

I’m working at the Universidad de la Sierra Sur in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Mexican college students are required to complete a foreign language requirement in order to graduate, so I teach a variety of college level EFL classes.

What do you like best about what you do?

I love this job. It’s not without its challenges. Oaxaca is the poorest state in Mexico, and it can really be a hustle to make things work well. Having said that, I love my work. Our students come from tiny pueblos all over the state. More than 80% of them are first generation university attendees here on scholarship. It means a lot to me to work with these determined young people who are making this massive life change and socioeconomic leap. It’s just exciting to be a part of what they’re doing.

Additionally, the students bring me salsa made from flying ants, so my life is not dull.

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching now?

Everything! I mean it. From writing exams to structuring classes and designing curriculum, I’ve used it all so far. I can’t think of any course that hasn’t been useful to me.

Maybe the most valuable skill I learned was how to grow a language learning course based on the needs of the learner (thank you, Keli!). Since entering the world of EFL, I’ve worked with many seasoned profs who were just never exposed to the process of designing courses based on a needs analysis or problematizing a context to exploit its specific advantages and tackle those inevitable obstacles. I am so grateful to have been trained in context-specific instruction and course design. It has informed every good decision I’ve made as a teacher.

Sarah with her enfermerfia English class graduates

Looking back, what advice would you give to current or future LTS students?

Well, I would say that you just never know what skills you’ll need to use in your future contexts, so absorb as much as you can.

I also think that transition from grad school to actual instruction can be a little awkward for some new teachers, so I can offer my perspective on being a newbie. There are no ideal contexts out there! New teachers can be really keen to affect positive change, and that’s as it should be. But listening and learning is also an important part of the first years of teaching (or just teaching in a new context). The LTS gives grads an amazing toolbox; teaching is about learning how to apply them well.

Don’t rush the process. Experiment and pay attention to what works for you and what doesn’t. Collaborate with other teachers and participate in observations as much as possible. I’m such a different teacher than I thought I’d be, and that’s a good thing!

May 16, 2017
by LTSblog
0 comments

Alumni Spotlight Hortensia Gutierrez

Hortensia Gutierrez graduated from LTS in 2014 with an MA project titled Teaching Forms of Address in Chilean Spanish to U.S. College Students. She worked at the American English Institute (AEI) for a few years before applying for her PhD studies in Spanish Linguistics.

Hortensia on the Georgetown campus, where she will pursue her PhD

Tell us about your good news about the next 5 years!

I am about to start a PhD in Spanish Linguistics at Georgetown University and I am very excited to start this new path in my professional life! During 2016 I had many experiences that pushed me to take this important step. I applied to six programs around the country and I was accepted to four of them with full funding for five years: University of Arizona, Indiana University, State University of New York Albany, and Georgetown University. My final decision to go to Georgetown was based on the faculty, the professional opportunities (outside the regular ones that any PhD program offers), and the solid instruction in all the areas of linguistics. In addition, I had two emotional factors to include: the fact that our beloved Keli Yerian is an former student of GU and the professional life of my husband.

Why did you decide to go on to a PhD? How did your experiences in LTS and otherwise lead you to this path?

I grew up in an academic environment that shaped my way of seeing life, learning to love questions and showing others my findings. At first, I became a high school teacher and I taught physics for more than 4 years in Chile, but it wasn’t until I came to the US that I found my true passion for linguistics: I liked physics, but I love teaching languages. For that reason, I decided to study in the LTS program and it changed my life. I believe that the first moment I thought about continuing my studies was when I started to work on my MA project. I was so passionate about the social and political aspects of language that I decided that I wanted to go deeper. I know that in the next five years I will find what I am looking for and more, and that makes me really happy.

What will be your areas of focus during your PhD?

During my M.A., I wanted to study the suppression of certain Spanish variation features in the traditional classroom, caused by linguistic ideologies in Latin America. Now, for my doctoral studies I would like to explore the dynamics of linguistic ideologies in areas of language contact. For example, I am interested in what happens when Mapudungun, a language spoken by the Mapuche community, is in contact with Chilean Spanish. This contact reveals elements that I would like to explore, such as bilingualism, heritage learners of Mapudungun, language revitalization, and the teaching of Mapudungun to the general population, among others. My ultimate professional goal is linked to my personal core value that pushed me to study Education in the first place: to use my research and work in academia to empower communities, encouraging people to understand and protect their identity.

Is there any advice you would give to current or future LTS graduate students?

People have different goals in life and different ways of reaching them, but I believe there is one fundamental element that is important to achieve them, and that is the passion for what you are doing. So if you want to teach languages or research languages, remember to always give your best.

Skip to toolbar