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Language Teaching Specialization Blog Site at the University of Oregon

May 16, 2017
by LTSblog
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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.

January 26, 2017
by LTSblog
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LTS Alumni spotlight: Shannon Ball

Shannon in a moment of grammar teaching

Shannon Ball graduated from LTS in 2014 with a focus on teaching English. Her MA Project was titled Teaching Adult Community ESL through Children’s Literature and she now works full time at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. Shannon is an example of someone whose MA Project focus led her directly to a position that allows her to apply what she learned and created.

Where are you working now and what are you teaching?

I work at Lane Community College as an ESL instructor, an ESL Student Services Specialist, and an ESL Assessment Specialist. I love doing all of these jobs, because I get to know ALL of the students in the program, and not just the ones in my classes. I usually teach the low-beginning levels, but am currently teaching Writing and Grammar C, which is the third level of six in our Main Campus IEP. I love every minute of it!

What do you like best about what you do?

Just one thing?! I could really go on and on about what I like best about this job. The reason I got into this work in the first place was that I have a strong desire to contribute meaningfully to my community. The people who come through our program are active members of our community, and the benefits of their enrollment in our program are innumerable. When our students learn, they help other similar members of the community (their friends and family) by teaching them what they have learned and by encouraging them to come to the program as well. They get better jobs, which helps their families and the economy. They are able to participate more fully in the English-based education of their children by communicating better with teachers and engaging and helping with their school work. The effects go on and on. Another thing that I love about teaching to this community is that they come in highly motivated. They are so eager to learn, and to share what they already know with each other. I also love watching the relationships that my students develop. I had a couple of students last year who were different in every way: age (one was 21 and the other 63), culture, country of origin, L1, etc. But they sat together and helped each other in class, studied together after class, and spent time together on weekends, and the most amazing thing is knowing they are using English the whole time because it is their only common language. It’s a truly authentic application of the things they learn in the program, and it motivates them to learn even more!

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching (or life) now?

I think the most valuable thing I learned and honed in the program was to connect every aspect of your lessons to a common purpose or objective. Always asking, and encouraging your students to ask, why you are doing a certain activity promotes active learning. Class time seems so limited that you need to plan well and make the most of every minute!

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

Take every opportunity you possibly can to volunteer, intern, or do a graduate teaching fellowship while you are in school. I know grad school is a very busy time, but this can both valuably inform your coursework and provide authentic hands-on experience. A lot of US schools tend to require a minimum of two years of classroom teaching experience, so it is also good for your resume! My other piece of advice is to make the program work for you. LTS is such a flexible program and really allows for creativity and encourages innovation. If you have an idea, go for it!

February 16, 2016
by megt
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LTS Alumni Spotlight: Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay DeLand graduated from the LTS Program in 2014 and immediately began teaching in Japan. Her MA project was titled “Graphic Novels as Motivating Authentic Texts for Adult English Language Learners”.

Graduation Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay (on right) on commencement day 2014 at the University of Oregon with cohort members Richard Niyibigira and Sejin Kim.

Where are you working now, and what are you teaching?

I work at Tokyo International University in Kawagoe, Japan. I teach mostly speaking and listening skills to Japanese undergraduate students, but I also teach an academic composition class to international undergraduates from a number of different countries. It’s a blast!

Kyoto Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay in Japan

What do you like best about what you do?

I love that I get to make so many meaningful relationships with so many amazing students. For me, all the interaction with different people is the best part of the teaching job. I’ve learned a lot from my students, and I’ve gotten to watch them learn and grow a lot as well.

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching (or life) now?

I learned how to design a curriculum, which has been invaluable to me since starting at TIU. Before the LTS program, I wouldn’t have had any idea how to go about planning a class when you’re just given a textbook and total freedom! It’s still a challenge for me, but I’m improving with practice, and I’m grateful for the foundation in curriculum design I got at Oregon.

Poster Presentation Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay presenting her action research at Thailand TESOL International this year.

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

Both while you’re a graduate student and when you become a full-time teacher, remember to make time for yourself on top of your work and studies. Teaching is a great job but it’s also very stressful and can be all-consuming. If you don’t find a way to balance a healthy and happy personal life on top of your work life, work will feel a lot harder! When I was an LTS student, I often studied with friends from my cohort to make the workload feel easier, and we regularly got together for fun to keep each other sane. Now, even when my semesters are busy, I make sure to do at least one fun and rewarding activity a week, like exploring a new part of Tokyo or just spending time with friends. It helps me refresh my brain so I can better tackle my job!

February 2, 2016
by megt
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LTS Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Chen-Mao Wang

Daniel Chen-Mao Wang graduated from the LTS program in 2008. His project was titled “Rethinking the Teaching of Beginning Reading: The Role of Reader’s Theater in the Taiwanese EFL Curriculum”.

Daniel (center) with his cohort in 2008

Why did you originally decide to study in the US?

Before I applied to the LTS program in 2008, I had been teaching in a public elementary school for a few years with a BA degree in Language and Literature Education in Taiwan. After a few years of mundane teaching that literally drained my inspiration, I started to look for graduate studies to both enrich my teaching career and energize my life of learning as a practicing teacher. The LTS program at the UO stood out as one of few programs that catered to my needs. The quarterly system guaranteed me very intensive five-term solid training and studying that my home country could never offer. When I read and compared many graduate programs, few addressed both the pedagogical and theoretical issues at the same time in their plan of graduate studies. While the course titles of many distinguished TESOL programs mostly featured on the theoretical issues, few stressed the pedagogical phase of language learning. With an educational background, I was certain that I wanted to be a practitioner but yet undecided for a theoretical route. Therefore, the LTS program gave me greater flexibility to take the courses I was interested in as a language trainer. Meanwhile, as LTS was in a Linguistics Department, this enabled me to associate with PhD students and participate in Professor Susan Guion Anderson’s advanced second language acquisition class. Although the LTS program was not fully research-based, the practical but research-oriented program design laid the groundwork for later research-based projects and presented me with opportunities to observe, learn, and experience a “scaffolded, elicited, and formative” language learning class. This helped me a great deal in my current job as an EFL elementary school teacher and adjunct assistant professor at the National Kaohsiung Normal University.

Where and what are you teaching now?

Less than half a year after graduating from the UO, I began the journey of being a full-time teacher and doctoral student at National Kaohsiung Normal University. I was fortunate enough to establish all the ground work at the UO with LTS and LING, and this experience has made me who I am now. My doctoral dissertation, titled “Effectiveness of a Reader’s Theater Project on English Silent Reading and Prosodic Reading Performance of Sixth-graders in Southern Taiwan”, took root in the framework of the project I did in the LTS program and used the phonetic analysis tool, Praat, that Dr. Pashby introduced in her pronunciation class.

Daniel in a recent photo with his family

Currently, with a PhD in TESOL, I also work with Taiwanese local college students teaching them Freshman English. The days nourished by the LTS program become the nutrients. The LTS program gave students the open space to develop and experiment with their teaching ideas, innovative or extended. In addition, the cohort format made us learn from each other, brainstorm many great ideas, and work all angles to possibly solve the issues language teachers faced on a day-to-day basis. Serving as a teacher of college students, I now still go back to my graduate assignment work to seek inspiration and I still keep in mind the very lesson that LTS taught me so well—analyzing students’ learning needs. Without the nourishment of LTS, I cannot imagine being the person I am now.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the pleasure of teaching because I like to associate with people and especially with students. Many people regarded teaching jobs as repetitious and laborious, while I appreciate the beauty of individual difference and students’ willingness to learn and improve. Last year, I had classes with first-graders up to college freshmen. They were a huge range in population, but I experience the fun and joy to see the spark in their eyes when they find language learning interesting and are willing to go the extra mile to learn with the teacher. As a language teacher, I can always practice what I believe, and experiment with all kinds of variables to motivate my students and enhance their proficiency in English as a global language.

Looking back, what do you think was most valuable about your time in Oregon and LTS?

Three things stick to my mind during the days I was in Oregon: a) the live language teaching observations, b) the freedom to choose interesting courses from other departments, and c) the supportive learning and advising atmosphere.

To begin with, I benefited so much by writing observation journals about many language teaching classes. Given the privilege to sit in class and observe what the teacher did, I witnessed how language teachers deal with the teaching issues with students at different language levels and with different language backgrounds. I ended up observing very diverse types of language classes: Howard Elementary School’s reading class, a South Eugene High School’s English literature class, and a college-level CFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language) class. It was as good as I could wish for—to see what is demonstrated in a real class—more effective than any workshop or lecture could have been.

Secondly, I adored being given a few flexible time slots to take courses from other departments. I remembered that I attended a pedagogical grammar class, a culture diversity class, and a statistics class offered by the School of Education. Those classes required me to interact with the native speaking college students on education-related issues and develop educational professionalism. This experience enriched my career path and helped me become not only a professional “language teacher” but also a professional “educator”.

Lastly, the supportive learning environment in UO and LTS has made this adventure rewarding and worth admiring. Looking back, I enjoyed the time to work with the international cohort and hang out with each other outside the campus. The combination of students in LTS was like no other on campus. It was made up of experienced teachers, students with language learning interests, and ESL teacher wanna-bes, NNS or NS alike. Because of this mix, a lot of negotiation was involved. You needed to pay attention to listen, mentally process, comprehend, clarify, and then react to others in the classes because they were from all different backgrounds. Each person interpreted things in a different way. To be participatory, you had to put yourself into their shoes, consider from their perspectives to understand what they were trying to express, and then provide your own opinions. But the beautiful thing was: the more positively you interacted with one another, the better and closer relationship you built with your cohort. We felt like a family in this foreign country and the camaraderie support brought us together. A similar positive atmosphere was also between the teachers and the students. I always valued, although scared to death at that moment, the advisory office hours with each faculty member. The teachers did feel distant and authoritative; they were actually very helpful and considerate. They offered academic advice, helped clarify some thoughts on studies, suggested directions to do a term paper, etc. I talked to most of the teachers privately in office hours and I guaranteed what I say is true. The friendliness and thoughtfulness was not something you could only find in your imagination. It was genuinely felt.

What advice would you give to current or future LTS students?

LTS seems to be a program that is too good to be true. However, you have to keep in mind that this is a five-quarter program. Basically, you will have to squeeze the length and endure the intensity of five semesters into 15 months in order to fulfill all the requirements. Some take longer than 15 months to accomplish it. In order to make the most of your time and enjoy the intensity, my suggestions are:

  1. Start early to collect research literature that interests you.
  2. Frequent the library and establish your personal teacher resource library.
  3. Read the assigned readings and be a productive contributor in classes.
  4. Take advantage of every opportunity to make friends (or to know more people).
  5. Experiment with what you believe is feasible in your future language classes and explore it with back up literature.

With all these things to do in fifteen months, this short journey is going to be like a sealed time capsule—it will store valuable and memorable events and keep you rejuvenated every time you look back!

December 8, 2015
by LTSblog
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Alumni profile: Richard Niyibigira

Richard Niyibigira was a Fulbright recipient who graduated in 2014. His project was titled “ESP Course Design for the Tourism and Hospitality Industry in Rwanda”.

IMG_7731What and where are you teaching now?

Today, I teach English and communication skills at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC)-Kigali. It is a college situated in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda in Africa.

Tell us about your leadership responsibilities now.

Apart from my teaching responsibilities, I am an active founder member of the Association of Teachers of English in Rwanda (ATER) that started in 2008. I served as the Head of Professional Development and Partnership for ATER since my arrival from the UO until recently when I was elected by the General Assembly as the president of the Association. Today, ATER has approximately 100 primary and secondary teacher beneficiaries in the 5 of 30 districts of Rwanda.  The teachers receive a series of workshops and trainings for free in their Communities of Practice. The trainings are conducted by ATER members and an English Language Fellow (ELF) offered to ATER by the US Embassy in Kigali. Some of my achievements within the association as the Head of professional development and Partnerships are organizing the first ATER annual conference, the 1st US Embassy Access Microscholarship Program Conference and organizing workshops to teachers through their communities of practice.

Did your LTS MA project relate to what you are doing now?

My MA project is certainly related to what I am doing now. My LTS project was an ESP (English for Specific Purposes) course design for the tourism and hospitality industry. Although the specific course I designed has not been used in any school yet, the knowledge I gained through designing that course served me a lot in my job today. I conducted a workshop to revise a course called “English for Technology” within IPRC Kigali. Although the course was there since a long time ago, its content was in no way different from that of General English. We revised the course to make it specific to students in their different departments and in relation to their specific needs.

IMG_5283Are there any other important developments in your life ?

Apart from my professional life, I have also made some personal and social developments since I left beautiful Eugene. I got married three months after I left Eugene and now I have a 3.5-month-old son. I have a beautiful and happy family that I am proud of.  And yes, I got my driver’s license now, after trying to get it three times with failure when I was in Eugene!

Do you have any advice for current or future LTSers?

My advice to current and future LTSers is:

  1. Work as a group not as individuals: The LTS life does not end in class. One of the things that helped me enjoy my time in Eugene is the relationship with my LTS colleagues! You may find the courses hard and with very tight schedules sometimes. The only way you can go through that efficiently is to include your colleagues in your journey to the completion of the program. Do some self-studies together and have fun after class. Enjoy the beauty of Eugene and surroundings.
  2. Do your MA project in something you REALLY like! The terminal project process is a long and hard one. It might either take you longer to complete or make you quit before completion if you are working on something you don’t understand and like.
  3. Do NOT forget to visit the coast with your cohort! It’s so much fun.

IMG_5139

December 1, 2015
by Misaki Kato
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Alumni Spotlight: Marcella Roberts

Marcella with her students in Switzerland.

Marcella with her students in Switzerland.

Marcella Roberts graduated from LTS in 2010. Her MA Project was titled: Pronunciation for Integrated Skills English Courses: A Teaching Portfolio. Below, she shares how she has used things that she learned in LTS in many different teaching contexts.

Where did you teach after graduating from the LTS MA program, and where are you now?

Since graduating, I’ve taught both in the U.S. and abroad in Switzerland and China. Immediately after finishing the LTS program in August 2010, I taught at the American English Institute (at the U of O) for one year. After that I moved to Switzerland, where I taught on and off for three years at a residential summer camp for children aged 10-17 from many countries all over the world. I also taught for one semester at Arizona State University (between summers in Switzerland), and then taught at a university in China for 8 months in 2014. As of September 2014, I’ve been teaching in the INTO Intensive English Program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR.

Is there anything you use in your teaching now that you first learned in LTS? 

Definitely. The focus on Communicative Language Teaching, as well as all the practice developing curriculum and materials, has continued to help me throughout my career as a teacher. When I was teaching in Switzerland, I was given a class of students and pretty much no guidance on what to teach except for an estimate of their level. I therefore had to draw on all of my practice and knowledge learned in LTS with needs analyses, adapting, creating and using materials, as well as ways to make language learning authentic, communicative and fun for students. Throughout the rest of my teaching experience, which has been in university programs, where more guidance, materials and textbooks have usually been provided, the basic language acquisition and teaching principles that I encountered in the LTS program have still been invaluable.

What was your MA project about, and did you apply it later in your teaching?

My MA project focused on pronunciation, and specifically how to integrate it into classes focused on other skills (or on integrated skills). To do the project, I had to really delve into pronunciation and learn about it in depth, which has definitely helped me in my teaching experience since graduating. While teaching in Switzerland, I often did pronunciation focused lessons, as well as integrated it into other content and skill focused lessons. During the time I was teaching in China, I developed a four week mini course on pronunciation for university students, which included a focus on the International Phonetic Alphabet and in depth practice of segmentals and suprasegmentals. Since having started teaching at INTO OSU, I’ve also taught specific pronunciation elective courses, during which I’ve drawn on, and added to, the experience and knowledge I gained while doing my MA project all those years ago.

What was most challenging for you as a new teacher?

It was challenging at first to have the confidence in myself as a teacher to be able to adapt my original lesson plans to what was happening in the classroom. Through experience, I’ve learned that sometimes going with the flow, adapting activity lengths, and responding to questions or issues as they arise can be more beneficial than rigidly sticking with a lesson plan even when it’s not working. But this definitely took time for me to realize, as well as time to understand how to do it in a way that helps students and keeps everyone focused and learning.

Marcella with some of her cohort at graduation in August 2010. She is the one in the middle top of the photo.

Marcella with some of her cohort at graduation in August 2010. She is the one in the middle top of the photo.

What advice do you have for students looking for language teaching positions after graduation?

Use your time in the LTS program to learn and share with such a wonderfully diverse group of students from all over the world. Many of the language teaching positions (especially in teaching English) are in countries all over the world and knowing something about countries other than your own, as well as being willing to travel and/or live abroad, will be valuable assets in finding rewarding teaching positions.

November 19, 2015
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Yanika Phetchroj

My name is Yanika Phetchroj, from Thailand. I enrolled in the LTS program in summer 2009 and graduated the following summer.

What and where are you teaching now?

Now I’m teaching English at the English Department at Thammasat University, the second oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in Thailand. I 644227_212153002263945_1461405675_nhave been teaching here for three years. My students are undergraduates from various departments and years. The classes that I normally teach are English Listening and Speaking, Reading for Information, Paragraph Writing, English Structure, and English for Hotel Personnel.

What was your MA project about?

My MA project was “Activities and techniques for improving oral skills in Thai high school EFL classes”. I did this because I have strong interest in teaching oral skills. Also, from my experience as a learner and as a native Thai speaking teacher of English, I found that Thai students have problems when it comes to English speaking and listening skills. Most Thai students start learning English with native Thai speaking teachers who teach English by emphasizing grammatical rules (the traditional Grammar Translation Method), and oral skills are overlooked. Thai ELT teachers predominantly speak Thai in the English classroom and most of the major examinations such as the university entrance examination only test students’ understanding of English grammar and their reading skills. Also, many Thai teachers find it difficult to teach English speaking skills since they don’t have a native accent. The consequence from this is thIMG_0489at after many years of learning English, Thai students still can’t speak English. After taking classes in the LTS program, I was enthusiastic to do something that could improve Thai students’ oral skills and help Thai teachers teach English oral skills with confidence and comfort. So, my project combined many activities that Thai teachers can use in their classrooms to help their students learn and practice oral skills. These activities have been adapted and designed especially for Thai students.

What did you find most valuable from the LTS program? What did you learn in LTS that are you using as a teacher now?

Since I didn’t have any background knowledge in the second language acquisition before I entered the program, everything seemed new to me. Right from the beginning, it was very useful to learn the different principles and methods of language teaching. For me, I grew up with Grammar Translation Method, so it was the only way of teaching and learning English that I knew. When I learned about CLT, Communicative Language Teaching, I was very excited and couldn’t wait to apply this method to my future classes. Another favorite class of mine was Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). I had so much fun exploring new technology that could help me teach. Nowadays, I still use some of the programs I learnt from that course in my classroom. As a teacher now, I have found myself using what I learnt from the Curriculum and Materials Development class most. Every semester I have fun creating new materials and supplements for my students based on current issues and on my students’ interests.

What did you find most challenging when you were a new teacher?

When I started teaching, I found that it was very difficult to stick to my class plan. Some activities took longer than I expected and it turned out that I couldn’t finish what I had planned at first. I also think that besides a teacher, students can make the class very enjoyable or so bland too. Some activities that I thought would be interesting to students turned to be boring. So, I had to make some changes right away. I also found that what works for some students doesn’t work for others. Some activities or teaching techniques may work well one semester, but don’t work at all the next semester with different groups of students. So it is important to find out what students like or are interested in as fast as I can to design the activities that suit them the most. 

What advice would you give current students in the program?

My advice from me will be that everyone should find the areas they are interested in the most as soon as they can, such as teaching, designing testing and assessment, or developing curriculum and materials. Because when they know your interest, they can make use of every class by doing assignments or reading something relating to it, and that will help them and their MA project a lot. Also, since the students in the LTS program are so diverse, they should take this opportunity to exchange their thoughts and experiences with their classmates who may come from different countries and culture in order to learn more and expand their knowledge.

 

 

November 2, 2015
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Mylece Burling

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Mylece Burling received her BA degree from UO with a major in Romance languages in Portuguese and Spanish. She joined LTS in 2012 and graduated in 2013. Her MA project was titled, “A Teaching Portfolio of Workshop Tasks for Brazilian English Teachers Applying for the HE/Capes Scholarship”. She is shown here (on right, as Malificent, the evil stepmother of Snow White) with another teacher and some of her students at Halloween.

What was your MA project about?

My MA project was a teaching portfolio of English language tasks for English teachers in Brazil. The objective was to help non-native English teachers to navigate the pragmatic and linguistic language barriers of the scholarship application, in order to enable them to continue their professional development as English teachers.

What did you learn in LTS that are you using as a teacher now?

LTS has helped me to begin to develop the ability to effectively select activities and plan lessons that are relevant and useful for my students. It provided a framework that I have been using as a way to structure my lessons. It has helped me to organize and analyze my teaching in a way that I can view my lessons objectively, evaluate and try to change and improve.

What did you find most challenging as a new teacher?

Student motivation. Of course as a new teacher my lessons could be more effective; however, if students are not also somewhat self-motivated they will not learn. The importance of student motivation was something I could not understand without real life teaching experience and it is something I wish I would have spent more time on during LTS. Inspiring one’s students to teach themselves is the ultimate goal of any teacher.

You are now teaching English in Spain, but also pursuing other interests dear to your heart. Can you describe what you are doing, and why you chose Spain?

I first came to Spain through the “Auxiliares de Conversación” program and taught English to all levels in a public elementary school for one year in the city of La Coruña, in the Northwest of Spain. Currently I am teaching English part time at a private academy in Madrid. I teach all levels and all ages from primary to retired adults, absolute beginners to nearly bilingual. Due to the economic situation in Spain many citizens are searching for work outside the country. As English is the language used for communication among citizens of different countries for matters of business and tourism, there is a high demand for English education in Spain. My LTS degree has been indispensable in finding work here as it provides access to better positions in better schools.

In addition to my work I am also studying sculpture at one of the official state-sponsored art schools, for which I moved to the capital, Madrid. After this first year I intend to specialize in wood or stone. Europe is the basis of the history of Western civilization and art. Being in this environment has contributed to my continuing education of art history, providing inspiration and a solid background for my artwork. I intend to stay in school as long as possible, though it has proved considerably more challenging to study art on a professional level than I originally thought.

I also enjoy rock climbing which has been popular in Spain since the birth of the sport in France and is world famous for its limestone cliffs in the northeastern mountain ranges. Last year I was able to find more time to travel and climb, while this year it has been hard to find time for everything.

What advice to you have for current or prospective LTS students?

My advice to current and prospective LTS students is not to forget the importance of your peers as a resource. While you are together try to learn as much as possible from one another.

October 20, 2015
by Misaki Kato
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Alumni Spotlight: Misaki Kato

Misaki Kato graduated from LTS in 2014. Her MA project was titled, “The Effects of Peer Review Training on ESL Upper-Intermediate Students’ Individual Writing Skills”. Below she shares how the practical teacher training in LTS helps her think about applications of theoretical concepts in the UO theoretical Linguistics program which is where she is studying now.misaki_hike (1)

What is the work that you are doing now?

I’m currently a second year PhD student in the theoretical Linguistics program at UO. My focus is in second language acquisition, especially in speech production, perception, and the relationship between the two (which is one of the big projects I’ve been working on outside of coursework). I’m also interested in production and perception of foreign accented speech. Also, I’m part of the LTS social media team and managing posts on facebook and twitter pages, which I enjoy very much.

In what ways did the degree from the LTS program lead you to where you are now?

The LTS program gave me opportunities to think about theoretical issues from practical sides and also further strengthened my interests in SLA theories. Especially because I hadn’t had experience in teaching as a full-time teacher, it was helpful for me to talk about ideas with my classmates and faculty who were more experienced teachers who had taught in many different contexts. My “learning by doing” experiences, such as microteaching in LT classes, internships in the AEI, and GTF-ing in Japanese classes, gave me so much insight into how to approach real classroom issues in various ways.

The faculty members were very helpful and flexible. Even though the LTS program doesn’t prepare students for PhD program in terms of its coursework, the faculty members never stopped me from thinking about practical issues from theoretical point of view, and they encouraged me to explore my questions in creative ways. I was very grateful that my MA project advisor and the second reader worked with me patiently to construct my action research project and gave me insightful theoretical and practical advice. These unique and supportive characteristics of LTS led me to where I am now.

Now in my theoretical program, when I think about abstract ideas or theories, I often think about the potential practical application of the question that I’m trying to explore (e.g. Why does this matter? What could this possibly mean for second language learners and teachers?). Sometimes I easily get confused with the significance of theoretical linguistic concepts, but my experiences in LTS remind me of the things that language learners and teachers do and what actually matters in the classroom.

Why did you initially choose to pursue an MA degree in Language Teaching?

After having teacher training in my home country, I wanted to pursue more solid knowledge and experiences about language learning and teaching before I actually had a job as a full-time language teacher. When I was an undergraduate exchange student from Japan at UO, I met Keli and she introduced me to the LTS program and one of its alumni. I thought it would be a great place to pursue my theoretical interests and to explore options to apply what I had learned in practical ways.

Do you have any advice for LTS graduates who might pursue jobs other than language teaching after their degrees?

One of the big things (skills) that I learned in LTS is to interact and collaborate with classmates. I think being able to collaborate with people at a professional level is a really important skill whatever you are doing. Sometimes it’s not easy (especially for a person like me who is not always good at socializing), but talking with people about whatever ideas you have (or they have) really helps to broaden your perspective. It’s helpful to actually explain your idea to somebody else too, to organize your own thoughts. So, my advice would be to use the collaborative skill that you built in LTS wherever you go.

October 5, 2015
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Norman Kerr

Norman Kerr graduated from LTS in 2007. His MA project was titled, “Preparing University Students for Self-Directed Study: An Online Chinese Course”. Below he talks about how his experiences in LTS and also in subsequent teaching career led him to his current job at the Yamada Language Center at UO.
 Kerr_LTS

What is the work that you are doing now?

I’m currently working for the Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon as a CALL expert and analyst programmer. We develop web applications for language teachers not only at the University of Oregon, but also around the world. We just released a new version of our application, ANVILL (A National VIrtual Language Lab), that provides teachers with several speech-based tools for online and blended learning classes.

 In what ways did the degree from the LTS program help prepare you for this position?

There are several ways the LTS program helped me succeed in my current job, and also at my last job as a EFL teacher in Taiwan. The first was providing theory and practice at curriculum design. With my current job it’s been very useful for understanding how to build software that can be used to either supplement the main class curriculum or as the sole curriculum for the class.

The second way it prepared me was by giving me the chance to co-teach with an experienced ESL teacher here at UO, particularly since I went into the program with no teaching experience. This was very helpful in getting my first EFL job in Taiwan.

Lastly, the CALL classes were very useful, not so much from a technical perspective, since I already had an extensive technical background, but in providing an overview of different CALL technologies and the ways to integrate these technologies into the classroom. It has been immensely helpful to know what software is already available and what purpose/problem that software is trying to solve, when developing new language learning applications with new and upcoming technologies.

Why did you initially choose to pursue an MA degree in Language Teaching?

I’ve been passionate about language learning for a long time. My bachelors degree was in Chinese, and I’ve also spent time learning Thai and Spanish. My initial reason for choosing the LTS program was mainly to enrich my own language learning skills and to extend that passion into a career that gave me the ability to work and travel and continue to learn languages.

Do you have any advice for LTS graduates who might pursue jobs other than language teaching after their degrees?

My advice, based on my own experience, is that it’s worth spending some time actually teaching before going into a different or related field. I gained a great deal from the three years I spent teaching in Taiwan, and I’m constantly putting to use that knowledge and experience, particularly in understanding the teaching process and classroom requirements for an audience I’m no longer exposed to on a daily basis, but are the end users of the software I develop. Having a mixed background of both technical and pedagogical was essential in getting my current job.

 

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