LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

May 8, 2019
by krobin14
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Alumni Spotlight- Lee and Zach

Zach Patrick-Riley and Lee Huddleston both earned their MA degrees in LTS in 2018, and are now spending some time as teacher-trainers at Yessenov University in Kazakhstan. Below is the story of their lives so far in this new area and new job!

Zach and Lee

What are you both up to in Kazakhstan?

[Lee and Zach]: We chose to answer this question together because almost all of our professional and personal days are spent together. We are both currently Teacher Trainers here at Yessenov University, in Aktau, Kazakhstan. However, the term teacher trainer only begins to describe the variety of hats we wear on a daily basis. The Yessenov Language Center is a pilot project that started fall of 2018, so we’ve been involved in every aspect of integrating English language learning into the university curriculum. Speaking of, one of our primary tasks has been to design curriculum for A2-B2 classes. We have quite a bit of flexibility in designing the curriculum, yet at the same time, we must be conscious of all relevant stakeholders needs (i.e. a very diverse student body, teachers, administrators, our department, and more). With the help of the World Languages Department and English Philology Department, we also have designed and teach a continuing professional development course (CPD) for the Top Managers of the University that ultimately prepares them with 21st century skills and to succeed in taking the IELTS.

One of the most fun aspects of our job is being able to continue teaching in the classroom! We lead interactive teacher training workshops twice a week for two departments in which we focus on English language teaching methodological approaches. Our topics in these workshops range from Flipped Learning to the use of the L1 in the language classroom. Additionally, we also have an English Speaking Club once a week in which we lead students in fun activities while practicing functional English. Just last week we lead a great club which had the students running around the school on a scavenger hunt and creating hashtags for a few of their pictures.

Zach guest teaching the CPD course

To build capacity at the university among the teachers of two departments, we conduct weekly observations of teachers in both university and CPD courses. During these observations we offer suggestions for continuing their growth as professionals, as well as alternative ways of conducting the lessons. The teachers are generally very open to feedback and appreciate the suggestions and advice that we offer.

Finally, we serve as cultural ambassadors every day at the university. Usually we promote in an informal sense through everyday interactions with students and staff at the university. While other times we fill this role in a more formal way by speaking with media outlets and visiting government officials such as the mayor, governor, embassy officials, ministers, and even the acting president of Kazakhstan.

How did you find this position at the university?

[Lee]: My journey to Kazakhstan began when I first met Yelena Feoktistova in my LTS courses. Yelena was a Fulbright Scholar at the American English Institute at the UO in 2017-18. She observed, participated in, and presented at a variety of our classes over the year-long program. She was impressed by the strong focus our program had on language teaching methods and approaches as well as how to apply those in a real context. When she first told us about teaching in Kazakhstan, and her purpose of bringing new teaching methods to her country and university, that I might one day end up in Kazakhstan was the furthest thing from my mind. But many conversations later, I learned that Yelena would be the head of a new English language center project in Aktau and she was looking for teacher trainers to help her jump-start the program. The idea of doing teacher training and curriculum design work straight out of graduate school to me seemed like too good of an idea to pass up, I wanted to really hit the ground running in terms of applying what I learned in the LTS program. I was certainly not wrong, everyday teaching here has been full of the rewards and challenges that make teaching such a dynamic field.

Lee, Yelena, and Zach walking by the Caspian Sea

[Zach]: I first met Yelena at a CASLS meeting halfway through the LTS program. As she was a visiting Fulbright scholar, she occasionally attended CASLS curriculum meetings to learn about the innovative projects CASLS does. To be honest, when Yelena said she was from Kazakhstan, I had to check my mental world map to know exactly where that was. Needless to say, the world traveler in me was intrigued from the get-go about a region I had never been to before. As the months went on, I got to know Yelena better and learned more about the Yessenov Language Center project. My excitement about a rich cultural and professional opportunity grew and grew. I also loved the flexibility around the contract start time. Because of it, after graduating last fall I was able to go to a family reunion in the USA and backpack around Nepal and India for a couple months before starting the job. Having that time to recover after the program helped a lot in feeling ready to work hard again.

 What is a special thing or place you have discovered there?

[Lee and Zach]: THE CASPIAN SEA!!! Our Pacific Northwest Roots absolutely love it, especially as a way to relax on the weekends. We also both love the proximity of nearby countries. While here, Lee has visited Turkey, Azerbaijan, and will soon visit Georgia. Zach has visited Georgia twice (yes, he loves it there!).

Sunset photo of the Caspian Sea

[Lee]: I’ll share two things I have discovered, one is more significant, and one is more of a simple pleasure. I’ll begin with the simple one.  During my first couple of months in Kazakhstan, I experienced a sudden coffee drought. Tea is far more popular in Kazakhstan than coffee, so coffee is just less accessible here, what coffee I did find here was always instant coffee, which can still be great, but it could not fully satisfy my Oregon coffee tastes. So, what I discovered was, a particular store that sold great coffee, and I also learned how to recognize coffee as it was sold/packaged here. To my embarrassment, I quickly realized that lots of real coffee had been sitting under my nose the whole time. This leads me to my second discovery, which is that you can get around and function with a surprisingly low amount of language. I have been amazed about how quickly I have been able to read most signs in Cyrillic now, and how much I can get done while speaking little Russian. I admit that this is probably due in large part to technology like maps/google translate, but it is still fascinating to realize how much top-down understanding helps when you speak very little of the language and don’t read the script. As someone who studies language this has been a fascinating experience in a linguistic and of course a personal and professional sense.

[Zach]: One of the most special things about Kazakhstan is its diverse population and spoken languages. We interact with people originally from Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Korea, and even more nationalities on any given day. Consequently, we hear a variety of languages being spoken in the hallways. As language lovers, this is very cool! It’s also special to learn additional languages ourselves. I have focused more on learning Russian as I plan on working digitally from Russia and Georgia this fall. But learning at least some phrases in Kazakh has been a sure way to bring a smile to anyone’s face, as the language is a source of national pride, particularly in the Mangystau region.

What has been most useful from LTS while teaching there?

Lee showing his enthusiasm for teaching during a speaking club

[Lee]: I mean, honestly everything that we learned in LTS has been so useful in this context. In this job we have really been practicing each part of language teaching developed in our courses from curriculum design, to creating assessments, to teaching in our own classroom, to training others in the use of a variety of teaching approaches. Resources that we created and/or encountered during our various classes, internships and graduate employee positions have also proven invaluable as we seek to give quality materials to our teachers. Though I have not directly implemented my masters project here in this context, I have used resources from that project, and approaches that I developed in the project to help create the curriculum and design workshops for the teachers.

[Zach]: I completely agree with Lee. The breadth of skills you learn while in the LTS program have all proven extremely useful. We have used knowledge gained from every class we took and our respective Graduate Positions (Lee, AEI, and me, CASLS). Lee and I often even chat about how cool it would be to take part in those priceless LTS discussions with the experiences we’ve had here.

Any advice for current LTS students?

[Lee]: I would advise current LTS students to always be thinking about making resources/projects that are highly adaptable or appropriate for a variety of contexts, these can be resources that you can easily implement in work outside of the program. Also, though I think I said something similar in a previous blog I think it bears repeating, really do as much as you can while you are in LTS, take advantage of all the development opportunities that you can, really give your all for every project and every assignment because all of that can be directly applied in your future experiences.

[Zach]: A year ago we were in your shoes really getting into the final Master’s project, so we know how tough and challenging it is. Stay strong and believe in yourselves. You are even more capable than you believe, and you should be very proud of how much you’ve already learned and accomplished. If you ever have more specific questions, please feel free to get in touch with us directly. #LTSforlife

Yessenov University

April 26, 2019
by krobin14
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Alumni Spotlight- Ngan

Ngan Vu graduated from LTS in 2018. Her MA project focused on how to use extensive reading activities to inspire and develop ESL students’ reading and writing skills.

Ngan and Yumiko in Japan (both from the 2018 cohort)

Hi Ngan! You are a recent graduate of LTS. Tell us about what you are up to now since you graduated!

Hi everyone, after graduation, I spent some time with my family in Vietnam and then moved to Japan for my job. Currently, I am teaching English at Kanazawa Institute of Technology in Japan and want to take advantage of this opportunity to learn another language from scratch again.

School Name

What is it like for you to live in Japan vs. in Eugene or Vietnam?

The biggest difference is my knowledge of the language used in each country and my ability to navigate through daily life. This is the first time for me to live in a country where I have little preparation for the language. Although the first few months in Japan were challenging, I am fortunate to be helped by my kind-hearted people whether they know English or not. Apart from that, I am grateful for what is coming to my life now. And, without doubt, Eugene or Vietnam as well as Kanazawa has its own unique place in my heart.

Cherry Blossoms by Ngan’s Apartment

Is there any way that you are applying your MA project work to your current teaching, directly or indirectly?

I regularly remind myself of ‘differentiated instruction’ which is the driving force for my MA project. I have been trying to apply the idea of different stations in class. However, the idea is modified to adapt to my students. For example, instead of having them move to different stations, the stations move. My MA project’s advisor Janine recommended this idea to me when we were in the process of developing materials. And, that idea works for my class so far. In addition, my project incorporates infographics as a support for reading-writing process and as a low-stakes assessment; now, I am introducing this method to my students this term.

In the Classroom

What is an example of something that you learned as a teacher that you would not have predicted before or during your graduate program?

I would say how to communicate with students about the effect of Google Translate on their learning progress and make my oral and written instruction as clear and transparent as possible. And, I am still learning.

Do you have any advice for current or future LTS students? Remember, they are just starting the Spring term, with the MA project looming ahead…

Take a break. Small breaks such as walking to a park, going to an ice-cream or bakery shop or whatever activities that help you refresh your mind. Trust that you can do it because your cohort members and LTS instructors are always there with you. And, listen to your inner call. 🙂

From the Library in Winter

January 9, 2019
by LTSblog
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Alumni spotlight – Kelsey

Kelsey Hertal graduated from LTS in 2015. Her project was designed with the intention of heading to Latin America, which she did but not for her expected reasons as you will see below!  The project was titled, Integrating American English Pragmatic Instruction in Tourism Training Programs in Latin America: A Materials Portfolio.

Kelsey (middle) with one of her classes in Columbia

Hi Kelsey! What have you been doing since you graduated from LTS?

My story is about how to stay patient when at first you don’t succeed, and always remember that something good might be just around the corner!

When I graduated from LTS, it took about 4 months for me to find a job. I looked everywhere (and I mean EVERYWHERE) to find a job and no language school, international school, university, or community college was ready to hire me. I remember it was incredibly discouraging and I felt that all my hard work in LTS was useless!

In November of 2015, Keli emailed me about an immediate job opening at INTO Oregon State University. They urgently needed extra teachers because of their high enrollment numbers that term. I applied and immediately received a call asking for an interview. The following day I drove to Corvallis, interviewed, got hired on the spot, and was scheduled to start teaching the next morning. The only word I have to describe that morning was chaos, as they gave me my teaching material 15 minutes before the class started. However, with my adrenaline running off the charts and my heart beating a thousand times per minute, it was one of the most amazing teaching moments of my life. LTS prepared me 110% for jumping into a teaching environment with no plan and coming up with material on the spot.

My contract at Oregon State was supposed to last 6 weeks, but at the end of the term, the students wrote a letter of recommendation to the INTO OSU administration team begging for them to keep me on the teaching staff. To my surprise, OSU offered me a contract for the next term because I “impressed” them so much with my rapport with the students. I worked as an adjunct at OSU for a year and a half, and it was more exciting and fun than any teaching job I could have imagined.

At the end of my first year, I happened to meet a Colombian recruiter at an INTO OSU end-of-year work event. To make a long story short, we fell in love (yes, I know that took you off guard!), I quit my job at OSU, and I moved to Colombia in April of 2017. As soon as I arrived in Colombia, I had an interview at Marymount School Medellin and I was hired immediately as a High School English teacher.

I started the job in the middle of the school year, and once again, had very little preparation for what I would be teaching. I truly feel like LTS prepared me to hop right in to a teaching job that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for.

We got married this past July and we’re loving the newlywed life. I’m still working at the same school and I absolutely love my job as a High School English teacher. Although I never expected to teach high school, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I am so thankful for my students, the great teaching environment, and the classes I get to teach.

What a story! What have you enjoyed most (and least) about teaching so far?

My favorite thing about teaching is being with the students. I love seeing the “lightbulbs” turn on in the students’ minds and I love seeing learning actually take place.

I have the freedom to create all my materials, lesson plans, and activities for all my classes. And not only that, each class is based on a novel. So far, I have created units on the following books: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury), Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare), What I Saw and How I Lied (Judy Blundell), My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult), and To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee). I can definitely say that teaching English through literature is the most fun thing in the entire world.

The thing I like least about teaching is dealing with unmotivated students who don’t want to learn, and as expected, I don’t love grading! 🙂

What has been something you learned while in the LTS program that you apply to your teaching now?

I learned so much in LTS that I apply to my teaching now.

  • The course on Culture, Language, and Literature (LT 528) helped me tremendously as, in my context, I teach English through literature on a daily basis in all my classes. While I was taking this class in LTS, I thought it would be really cool to teach English through literature but never thought it would be a reality for me. You never know where you’ll end up and what will actually come in handy in the future!
  • Learning how to truly write well. I can say I really learned how to write academically through completing the Master’s project. In my classes now, I teach my students academic writing, how to research, how to cite with APA format, etc. Without having put so much effort and attention to detail in my Master’s Project, I wouldn’t have been so equipped to teach this. Again, I didn’t necessarily expect that it would come in handy, but it did!
  • Like I mentioned before, through LTS, I learned how to jump into a teaching situation and figure out what to do on the spot. My teaching practicum (LT 537 Talking with Ducks) helped me with this greatly. It certainly helped me have confidence in front of a class and how to be creative without time to think.
  • Time management! As I’m sure with any Master’s program, you learn time management. However, if you don’t have time management skills, you will not survive as a teacher.

What are your hopes or plans for the future?

To be honest, I am incredibly happy where I am right now. I would like to stay here for at least two or three more years. I actually have fell in love with teaching high school English and literature, and I think maybe someday I would like to teach literature in an American high school. So far, life keeps throwing me surprises and each opportunity keeps getting better.

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

To any current and future LTS students, my advice would be:

  • You may think you have an idea of what you want to teach, but life may throw you something different, and it will probably end up being better than what you could have imagined for yourself.
  • Don’t give up if you can’t find a job right after finishing your degree. Be open to any job opportunity that life may give you and when the right opportunity comes, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Be truly grateful in the workplace. I have experienced working with many grumpy and unhappy teachers. Although teaching is a hard job, if you want to survive, you have to stay positive, be thankful for the job you have, and remember the difference you are making in your students’ lives.
  • Try your best in each class in the LTS program. The topics in each class will come in handy in the future whether you can see it or not.
  • The Master’s project is a life lesson; it gives you valuable skills for life. It teaches you how to be disciplined and how to manage your time. It teaches you how to give your best when you’re exhausted and feel like you can’t keep going. These skills will help you more than you can imagine in your teaching career (and in your personal life).
  • The Master’s project gives you the opportunity to enter into the world of academia and it teaches you how to become a writer and find your voice. Recognize the importance of this and how you will use these skills in your future career.

 

October 10, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni post Sue Yoon

Sue Yoon completed her MA in Language Teaching Studies in 2017. She started as an undergraduate student at the University of Oregon who took a few Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) certificate courses and got hooked on language teaching and research. She also earned a concurrent MA in the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department while at UO.

Sue about to start her Ph.D. program at the University of Hawai’i

What have you been doing since you graduated with your concurrent MA degrees from LTS/EALL?

After I graduated with my concurrent MA degrees from LTS and EALL in 2017, I went back to Korea, hoping to gain language teaching experiences outside the university setting. While I was in Korea, I luckily had the opportunity to work at an English learning center. The students who visited the center were mostly 4th to 6th grade students from local elementary schools. The center offered programs in which students learned English in a short-period (5-10 days) immersion setting. During the day, students usually had some content classes, such as peace, culture, eco, UNESCO heritage, and UN SDGs classes, and they participated in games and activities in the evening. In the meantime, I was admitted to the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and I have entered their PhD program in Korean language and linguistics this Fall term.

Sue (bottom right front) at the Global Peace Village in S. Korea

What did you enjoy while working as an English teacher in Korea?

I particularly enjoyed teaching English in an environment where the learning of English grammar was not the focus. I had a lot of fun teaching a variety of subject areas in English, and it was great to see how students enjoyed learning English integrated with other content subjects. It was also a great opportunity for me to design lessons and activities to teach content from other subject areas in the target language. From this experience, I have learned that students can learn much more when the content is relevant to their own lives and interests and that the learning environment plays a critical role in language learning.

In what ways did your MA degree(s) prepare you for this position?   

Since the target learners were mostly young students, it was very important to provide them with a lot of fun interactive classroom activities and games to keep them focused and interested. What I learned from Dr. Laura Holland’s LT 537 was particularly helpful because I had gained a lot of ideas for short and long classroom games and activities for different themes from the course. Also, learning what to take into consideration when designing a lesson and how to effectively sequence activities within a lesson from Dr. Keli Yerian’s LT 436 and other LT courses definitely helped me when developing lesson plans and class materials.

What are your plans for the next few years?

I have just moved to Hawaii for a PhD program. While pursuing a PhD degree at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa for the next few years, I will also be teaching Korean language classes at various levels at the university and participating in a variety of events related to Korean language teaching and learning.

What topics are you hoping to pursue in your PhD program?

I have been very interested in multimodal analysis of Korean conversation. I would like to research the role of nonverbal communication cues that have not yet received attention, such as nonverbal speech sounds like hisses and oral and nasal fillers, in relation to (im)politeness and speaker stances. I also hope to develop pedagogical materials to bridge the perceived gap between recent theoretical findings of Korean linguistics and Korean language pedagogy.

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

I consider myself very lucky to have met Dr. Keli Yerian in LT 436 class and joined the LTS and EALL graduate programs. I really appreciate all the opportunities I had during my studies at the University of Oregon. All of the faculty members that I have met were always willing to help and support each student in the program. So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are struggling with something!

August 15, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni spotlight: Liatris Myers

LTS students can publish too!

Lia Myers graduated from LTS in 2015 and recently published her MA project in the ORTESOL Journal. Her project title was Integrating Instruction on Pragmatically Appropriate English Oral Requests into IEP Courses in the U.S. 

Me hiking in Cocora Valley in the department of Quindío, Colombia.

What was your project about, and what prompted you to consider publishing it?

My project was about teaching pragmatically appropriate English oral requests to adult ESL learners studying English in the United States. Working in the American English Institute at the University of Oregon, I had observed that there was a strong tendency for ESL learners at all language proficiency levels to make oral requests that sounded rude to Americans and that this caused social problems for the learners who did not intend to be rude. I wanted to understand why this situation existed and how it might be resolved. It was Keli Yerian (the LTS Program Director) who suggested publishing the project. She had just read for the first time the chapters where I explained my conclusions from my research and what I was proposing to do, and also my initial draft of pedagogical solutions. Going to meet with her to discuss it, I was really nervous because what I was proposing was very unconventional – I felt it was what my data said needed to be done but I’d never heard of anything like it – and I was worried she would say it was no good. Instead, she said I really had something to contribute to the field and I should publish it. It was one of the proudest moments of my life!

Lia’s article. It is noteworthy that in the same issue another article by LTS faculty Andy Halvorsen and LTS 2018 student Kunie Kellem is also published.

What was the process?

From the time Keli told me I should publish I intended to do it, but after graduation life was very busy starting my teaching career and I didn’t complete the first draft of the manuscript for publication until after my first school year of teaching. However, I’m glad it happened that way because in the intervening time I had the opportunity to gain more practical teaching experience including with some of the techniques I discussed in my project, which enabled me to improve my manuscript with examples and suggestions from the classes I had taught. I first submitted the manuscript to the TESOL Journal, but they rejected it because it didn’t have the type of research they were looking for. I used their feedback to rewrite it and submitted it to the ORTESOL Journal. They responded that it was interesting but they thought it would be more appropriate as an extended teaching note rather than a full-length feature article (the category for which it was submitted) and invited me to rewrite it for the extended teaching note category. So I rewrote and resubmitted it, and the paper was finally published in the 2018 edition of the ORTESOL Journal (available here: https://ortesol.wildapricot.org/Journal2018). So that was three drafts of the manuscript for publication with each draft being reviewed by some combination of Keli Yerian, Linda Wesley (my project advisor), Jim Myers (my dad who has always edited my work), as well as TESOL and ORTESOL reviewers, all of whom gave me feedback to use to revise and improve the manuscript.

How much does your published article resemble your project – what had to change?

The biggest change was I had to make it a LOT shorter. The original project is 143 pages including end materials, but what was finally published is only 10 pages. This meant I had to really distill the project down to the essential points. I also added examples and suggestions from my post-graduation teaching experience and made many changes to both the writing and the content of the manuscript for publication based on feedback from TESOL, ORTESOL, Keli Yerian, Linda Wesley, and my dad, though the core ideas remained the same.

What have you been doing since you graduated from LTS, and what are your future plans?

Oh gosh, I’ve done so many things since I graduated from LTS. Besides getting my MA project published, I taught ESL/ESOL at INTO OSU (Corvallis, Oregon) for several months, then at Chemeketa Community College (Salem, Oregon) for seven terms. While at Chemeketa I wrote and piloted the entire curriculum for a new course on basic computer skills for learners who don’t know how to use a computer or who have a low level of English language proficiency or both. It has since been used by several other teachers in Chemeketa’s ESOL program and I’ve had really positive feedback on it. I also presented on integrating instruction of digital literacy skills into ESOL courses focused on other topics such as reading and writing, listening and speaking, etc. at the Fall 2017 ORTESOL Conference. This year at the beginning of January I travelled to Medellín, Colombia to have the experience of moving to a new country where I didn’t really know the language to look for a job. Seven months later I know Spanish well enough to manage my own affairs in the language, have worked at a private school (preschool through high school) in the Medellín area for a few months, and learned to dance (Colombian salsa). In September I’m headed to Japan to teach at a university there until late January. After that, who knows? There’s a whole world of possibilities out there…

The goodbye message, card, and food from the goodbye party that one of my groups of 5th graders gave me on my last day at the school I worked at in Colombia

Any advice you have for current or future LTS students?

In terms of choosing a topic for the project, I recommend identifying a problem in which you are interested, then figuring out why it exists and how to solve it. Later, if you want to publish, have practical experience with your solutions before you write it up for publication and draw on those when writing your manuscript. Be prepared to do much revision and have people around who can read the manuscript and give you good feedback to help you make it better. When you submit it, choose a journal and category that really fits what you have. Finally, don’t be afraid to pursue an unconventional idea that really seems right. It may be the novel approach that’s needed.

August 7, 2018
by LTSblog
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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!

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