LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

November 1, 2017
by pashby
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Faculty Spotlight: Lara Ravitch

This week, we are pleased to feature UO faculty member Lara Ravitch, who works with the LTS program in a number of ways: guest lecturer in LT courses, MA project committee member, and advisor to the teachers of the Chinese Club at Edison Elementary School. Read on to find out more about these and many other interesting projects she works on here at UO and beyond.

American English Institute faculty member Lara Ravitch wears a number of hats at UO, including several in the LTS program.

What is your position at the University of Oregon?

I’m a Senior Instructor in the American English Institute (AEI). I am back in the classroom now after several years coordinating our Intensive English Program

What courses do you teach?

The AEI has several different programs with a wide variety of courses, and it’s expected that any given faculty member will be able to teach most of them with minimal lead time, so I teach lots of different things! I’ve taught upper-level reading and writing, lower-level speaking and listening, and student success in the IEP. I’ve also taught an eLearning course for educators around the world looking to improve their skills as teachers of young learners, and I’m currently teaching AEIS 112 and 101.

What was your path to the University of Oregon?

I majored in Russian, so after graduation from college, I wanted to spend some time there, and the easiest way was to get a job teaching English. After two years teaching in a variety of contexts in Moscow, I realized I enjoyed this work but I needed more training, so I returned to the US to get my MA in language teaching at the Monterey (now Middlebury) Institute of International Studies. During my MA, I focused on teaching both English and Russian, as well as concentrating in Language Program Administration. After graduation, I adjuncted for a year in Monterey before moving back home to Chicago, where I taught ESL and English Composition at Harry S. Truman College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. It was an incredible experience that gave me opportunities to work on committees re-developing teacher education for the State of Illinois, improving language assessment protocols across the city, and supervising about 50 adjunct faculty in my department. The students were incredibly diverse, coming from Nigeria, the Philippines, Ukraine, India, Ecuador, Sudan, Bulgaria, Mexico, Vietnam and many other countries. I learned a ton from my amazingly dedicated colleagues and students, but after almost 10 years in the city, we decided we needed a change of scenery and looked for opportunities out west. I was excited to come to the AEI at University of Oregon because of the high level of professionalism. After working in a department where part-timers outnumbered full-time, tenured faculty by more than 2:1, and where the teaching was so intensive that few availed themselves of the limited funding for professional development, I was excited to come to an institution where all of my colleagues would be full time (and thus actively invested in developing programming and supporting students), and where professional development was both supported and expected.

What is your connection to LTS students & what do you enjoy about working with graduate students?

I have worked with LTS in several capacities. I’ve done quite a few guest lectures in various classes, teaching lessons on bilingualism, lesson planning, and outcomes-based curriculum design. I love helping to give LTS students a sense of how their learning applies in various teaching contexts.

As IEP coordinator, I also worked with LTS students to match them to observations and opportunities for research. I loved reading research proposals and am always curious about the results of the studies!

In addition, I’ve been a reader for two MA projects, both dealing with Russian teaching. I was extremely impressed with both products, which filled gaping holes in the field and would be of great use to practicing teachers.

Last (but definitely not least!) I advise the LTS students who teach the Chinese Club at Edison Elementary School. Three LTS students take turns being the teachers of about 10 young children who sign up to spend their Friday afternoons learning Chinese. I meet with the LTS student teachers once a week to discuss the previous lesson and plan the next one, and then whenever possible, I observe the classes and give feedback. It’s a delight to work with such creative and diligent student teachers and to watch the children participating actively and enjoying Chinese language and culture even at the end of a full week of school!

What other projects are you involved in?

I’m participating faculty in the Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (REEES) program, and this winter, I’ll be teaching a Russian Theater class, which includes a big final performance in Global Scholars Hall! In the summers, I run a Russian language immersion program for 8-18-year-old campers in northern Minnesota. I’ve also just begun a second MA in Special Education here at UO! I do a lot of presenting and teacher training, generally on topics related to experiential learning, alternative assessment, LGBTQ issues in language teaching, and learning differences.

What advice do you have for future language teachers? 

Our field is broad, our learners are diverse, and there is always opportunity to try something new. Don’t worry about mastering it all now – instead, adopt a reflective, lifelong-learning approach and focus on continuous improvement!

October 14, 2017
by zachp
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Spanish Language Learning APP LingroToGo!

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

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

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

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

What about the pragmatic component of it?

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

And there’s video too?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 5, 2017
by pashby
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Faculty spotlight: Claudia Holguin

This week, we are happy to feature Professor Claudia Holguin from the Romance Languages Department.  Professor Holguin advises LTS students on their MA projects, most recently LTS student Valeria Ochoa on “Integrating Service Learning into University Level Spanish Heritage Language Classes in the United States” completed this past summer. [Note: This term, Valeria is teaching the course SPAN 322  Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics.] In Winter 2018, Professor Holguin will be teaching the course SPAN 420/520 “Critical Pedagogies for Spanish Language Teaching,” which is open to interested LTS students. See below for more details.

Professor Claudia Holguin,
Dept of Romance Languages

What is your position at the University of Oregon?

I am an Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon. I am also the founder and Director of the Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) program at the UO. I’m always happy to meet one-on-one with students and educators interested to learn more or get involved in the SHL program!

Some of the questions that guide both my work as a sociolinguist and my development of the SHL program include: What is the relationship between attitudes toward language use, language awareness, and identity construction? How do the politics of the Mexico-U.S. border shape language use and discourse? How can SHL pedagogy and courses strengthen Latinx students’ senses of identity and belonging within the campus community and broader U.S. culture?

What courses do you teach?

This winter (2018), I’m looking forward to teaching SPAN 420/520 “Critical Pedagogies for Spanish Language Teaching.” This Spanish-language course is open to any Spanish speakers/educators (undergraduate and graduate students) interested in learning more about how to implement Critical Language Awareness (CLA)—the study of sociopolitical and ideological contexts of language variation and discourse—into their pedagogical methods. Students in this course will get to explore a variety of pedagogical approaches designed to empower teachers of Spanish to engage their students in (1) critically identifying the social meanings embedded in language uses, and (2) developing broader and more profound transcultural and translingual communicative competencies. Together, we will also explore ways in which we can incorporate local community engagement into our own teaching practices.

In general, I teach courses on Hispanic linguistics and Sociolinguistics, as well as courses on Latinx and bilingual communities in the U.S., including: SPAN 428/528 Spanish Sociolinguistics in the US Borderlands, SPAN 322 Intro to Hispanic Linguistics, SPAN 308 Comunidades Bilingües, SPAN 248 Spanglish as a U.S. Community, and SPAN 228 Latino Heritage II.

What was your path to the University of Oregon?

I grew up in Guadalajara, México, the capital and largest city in the Mexican state of Jalisco, and also in the border city of Juárez, in the state of Chihuahua. My long time experiences on the U.S.-Mexico border have given me a transcultural awareness of different cultures and languages. I earned my B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Texas at El Paso and then my M.A. in Spanish Linguistics at the New Mexico State University at Las Cruces. I moved to Illinois to complete my Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Later I moved to Eugene, Oregon when I was hired as an Assistant Professor at the UO. I was also hired to start a brand new SHL program within the Dept. of Romance Languages designed for heritage Spanish speakers—students who grew up speaking Spanish at home or in their communities. I very much enjoy all of my work, but especially my interactions and reciprocal learning experiences with students in the SHL program.

What is your connection to LTS students?

I am interested in creating connections between research in Sociolinguistics and its direct applications in order to improve pedagogical practices in language teaching. I also enjoy creating teaching materials that are accessible to students and educators alike. I am especially dedicated to developing open-source pedagogical approaches through which students are able to explore Spanish and Spanglish as integral parts of the cultural matrix of the U.S. In this way and in the courses I teach, I like to encourage students to engage in bilingual practices that reflect their individual sociolinguistic backgrounds, just as these practices naturally occur among most bilingual and multilingual speakers around the world.

What do you enjoy about working with graduate students?

I very much enjoy working with students at the graduate level conducting their own research in SHL pedagogy. Over the last five years, I have worked with graduate students conducting research in pedagogy and class observations. I am always especially excited to work with graduate students interested in action research and experiential learning.

What other projects are you involved in?

I created and developed the project Empowering Learners of Spanish, in collaboration with UO professors Robert L. Davis and Julie Weise. We have created three courses in the social sciences, two in Linguistics (SPAN 238 Spanish around the World, and SPAN 248 Spanglish as a US Speech Community) and one in History (HIST 248 Latinos in the Americas) that I have co-taught with Professor Weise. These courses are taught in English, but incorporate enough Spanish for students to develop an interest in continuing to study Spanish.

Right now, I’m conducting a follow-up research study to assess SHL students’ language production through our program. Through this ongoing research, I aim to provide concrete evidence that further supports my findings that critical pedagogical approaches positively influence the actual development of students’ critical linguistic awareness and sociopragmatic linguistic proficiencies.

Every Tuesday from 3 to 5 PM at the EMU, I participate in Tarea Time, an initiative of the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence (CMAE) that focuses on mentoring by guiding students in the utilization of all student resources available regarding financial aid, scholarships, internships, career development, professionalization, and academic success.

In general terms, I am involved in collaborative research and institutional practices that seeks to build on and create coordinated visible connections across campus for mentoring our under-represented students in order to advance the work of equity, inclusion, and diversity regarding recruiting, retention, and on-time graduation success.

What advice do you have for future language teachers?

To future educators who will have the opportunity to teach and interact with Latinx and heritage speakers of Spanish: it’s important to find a pedagogical balance between validating your students’ language use as it exists when they first enter your classroom—for example, fully bilingual students, fluent Spanglish-speakers, students who speak but don’t feel confident to write in Spanish, etc.—at the same time as you provide students with sociolinguistic context around the realities of US expectations for language use in various settings. In this way, you can empower students from all backgrounds, but especially heritage speakers and Latinx students 1) to make their own choices around how and when they use particular forms and registers of language (including Spanglish) and, 2) to understand the real-world implications of those choices.

And my “advice” to current language students of all ages, as we say on the SHL webpage:

Bienvenidos, Spanglish students! Si vivir between different languages es lo tuyo, cruzar fronteras is your reality, and you’re not afraid de ver más allá de tu nariz, this is the perfect program para ti!

Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) Team

 

November 15, 2016
by LTSblog
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Lead from within! LTS Faculty blog post by Deborah Healey

In today’s post, LTS faculty Deborah Healey discusses the opportunities and benefits of taking the lead in professional organizations in the field. You can read more about Deborah Healey on a past blog post here.

Professional organizations like ORTESOL, ACTFL, and TESOL International Association are successful because they offer a variety of activities, networking, and support for their members. Volunteers with the organization provide the bulk of the support. They guide the organization and its activities. Volunteers are the backbone of annual conventions, for example, and most organization newsletters and websites have content provided by volunteers. These volunteers are both necessary and very visible parts of the organization. Organization leadership comes from the volunteers who have been active in the organization and the profession.

What does this mean for graduate students and other professionals in language teaching? It means that you can give to your profession and add to your resume by volunteering. This will help you move forward on a leadership path.

I’ve been part of the leadership of ORTESOL and TESOL at different times and in different ways. I’ve been the ORTESOL Newsletter editor, part of several TESOL Task Forces and a TESOL Interest Section Chair, and a member of the CALL Interest Section Steering Committee.

dh-1980s2

Deborah when she was ORTESOL newsletter editor in the 1980s

I am now on the Board of Directors of TESOL, making decisions about policy and governance for the association.

healey-2016board_2

2016 TESOL Board of Directors

Being on the Board was not on my mind when I agreed to be ORTESOL Newsletter Editor, nor when I was on different Task Forces and involved in the Interest Section. Like most volunteers, I took part in those activities because they sounded interesting. They gave me great connections and good friends. My involvement has made me a better teacher and, overall, a more competent professional in the language teaching field. This involvement has also given me the opportunity to travel to international conferences as an invited speaker.

2014 HUPE (EFL) Conference in Croatia

2014 HUPE (EFL) Conference in Croatia

You can start on a path to leadership by doing many of the same things that you may be doing now. Write for your local affiliate/section of a professional organization (the ORTESOL Newsletter Editor would love to hear from you!). Present at a local and national conference (poster sessions are usually easiest to propose and have accepted). Volunteer to help with the local conference if it is nearby or with the national conference if you are planning to attend. People in the organization will notice your work. As you take on more responsibilities – because they seem interesting, of course – you will be on a leadership pathway that may take you to new and exciting places.

leadership-schematic

Leadership schematic – some directions

October 5, 2016
by LTSblog
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Faculty spotlight: Kaori Idemaru

idemaru

What is your position at UO?

I am Associate Professor of Japanese Linguistics in East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL).  But my research and teaching cover other languages, including Korean and English.

How are you connected to LTS and LTS students?

My department and LTS often share students in various ways.  We have many concurrent degree students who are pursuing both Linguistic and EALL degrees.  I also send my students to take LTS courses, and LTS students take my courses.  Also one of LTS graduates, Yukari Furikado-Koranda, is now a colleague of mine in my department!  It’s wonderful to work with her. You can see more about the collaboration between EALL and LTS here.

What is a current research project you are working on?

I am working on a project that looks at characteristics and constraints of speech learning, and another that looks at how people use voice to sound polite.

What do you enjoy most about working with graduate students?

I really enjoy working with grad students discussing and designing interesting and innovative research methods to address their research questions.

 

June 29, 2016
by LTSblog
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Faculty Spotlight Jeff Magoto

What is your position at the University of Oregon?

I’m the director of the Yamada Language Center, which is one of the best jobs on campus. I get to work with faculty and students working in one or more of the 20+ languages offered at UO, whether that’s the four students taking Persian or the thousands who are taking Spanish, or the one instructor in Swahili or the many dozens in Romance Languages. Our staff of 15 tries to support their efforts by offering flexible classroom and self-study spaces, resources for language practice and development, and training in both pedagogy and technology use. Lastly, I get to join the heads of other language units in advising our College of Arts and Sciences deans on language, linguistics, and general humanities matters.

How are you associated with LTS?

I’m an ardent supporter of LTS, and even though I don’t teach in the program very regularly, I’ve been able to work with numerous LTS students over the years. I usually serve as a reader for at least one student’s Master’s Project a year, and I’m the supervisor for the Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs) who take courses in LTS and teach in YLC’s Selfstudy Language Program, LT 199. I also regularly work with LTS faculty members Deborah Healey and Robert Elliott on course development and CALL projects for departments such as NILI or AEI .

What other projects are you involved in?

Well, I’m currently one of the conveners of the UO Language Council. UOLC is a collaborative effort of faculty, administrators, students and staff to support and inspire language study on campus and beyond through professional development, innovation, and outreach. It’s a wonderful chance to work with folks across the spectrum of CAS, International Affairs, Professional Schools, and Admissions, each of whom has an impact on who ends up in our language. classes. I also have a nearly 10 year-old speech-based software project, ANVILL, that grew out of my work as Norman Kerr’s advisor on his LTS Terminal Project in 2007. It continues to grow and improve because there have always been brave LTS alumni willing to try it out, take it out into the field, and guide us in its development. Thanks to them, it’s now used in about 10 countries in addition to the US. They still send us suggestions for improvement!

What do you enjoy most about working with language educators? (video response)

April 13, 2016
by LTSblog
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LTS Faculty Spotlight: Andy Halvorsen

Tiffany Andy Brenda in Gabon 2016

Andy in the new English Language Center in Libreville, Gabon, with Brenda and LTS alum Tiffany VanPelt.

How are you associated with LTS?

I’m a faculty member of the American English Institute, and I’ve been teaching in LTS for 2 years. I generally teach LT 436/536 in Spring (the Language Teaching Planning course). I’ve also served as an advisor on the final projects of LTS graduate students.

What else do you do in your work and teaching?

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work in the Innovative Programming unit of the AEI. I’ve worked on the development and design of our upcoming MOOC for English language teachers, and I’ve also just completed an online webinar through American English that talks about how to get the most out of your online teaching and learning experience. I’ve enjoyed being involved with educational technology here at the University of Oregon because it relates to my research interests in social media and how platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to enhance language learning opportunities in a number of diverse ways.

I’ve also recently been involved in our partnership with the Gabon Oregon Center and I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Gabon to deliver a scientific writing workshop to university faculty there.

Where were you teaching before you came to Oregon?

Before coming to the UO, I spent two years in Thailand as an English Language Fellow (ELF) with the US State Department. While in Thailand, I primarily did teacher training work, and I also had the opportunity to teach a weekly English course to high-schools students which was broadcast on television.

What do you think are some of the best perks of being a language teacher and teacher educator?

For me, the biggest perk about this type of work is the people you get to interact with on a regular basis. I’ve met and worked with teachers and students from all over the world, and I’ve broadened my understanding of education significantly. My recent trip to Gabon is a good example. I’d never had the chance to visit West Africa before, but the experience was amazing. I felt like I was able to improve the writing skills of the workshop participants, but, as often happens when I travel for work, I honestly felt like I took as much if not more away from the experience as the participants did!

What is something you’ve learned from your students or teachers-in-training?

video response:

March 31, 2016
by megt
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Faculty Research Spotlight: Anna Mikhaylova

Anna Mikhaylova is faculty in the Linguistics Department whose research focuses on second and heritage language acquisition and bilingualism. She is teaching LT 611 MA Project I this term.

Anna.LTSblog

 

How are you connected to the LTS program?

My biggest connection to the LTS program is through the projects that LTS students develop as a capstone of their degree. In the past four years I have taught the first of the MA Project (LT 611) course series. It has been exciting and rewarding to watch each student develop their ideas into a well-developed and well-researched argument and create a foundation for their final product (teaching or materials portfolio, course design, or an action research project, which they would be developing in the second course of the series). I have also enjoyed teaching Second Language Teaching Planning (LT 536) and serving as advisor and reader for several MA projects.

What other classes do you teach?

The Second Language Acquisition courses (LING 544 and LING 644) and graduate seminars on Bilingualism and Heritage Language Acquisition, which I teach for the General Linguistics MA and PhD program, have also been open to LTS students. It certainly has been a privilege to have LTS students provide a language teacher’s perspective and insight the theoretical discussions we have had in the LING classes. And I also pride myself in the fact that several MA projects were supported by the readings or even grounded in the research projects LTS students developed in those Linguistics classes.

What is your research about?

Much of my work has tackled finding an empirical and theory-based explanation to the observation that both foreign (FL) and heritage language (HL) speakers have a particularly difficult time with target-like use and successful comprehension of functional morphology. A recent exciting project bridges an important gap in research by focusing on K-12 rather than college-level FL and HL learners. This study of oral narratives collected at the beginning and end of an intensive Russian dual immersion program throws light on language maintenance and effects of re-exposure in international adoptees. My latest project, still in progress, has involved by far the most participants and has the most immediate implications for instruction. We have so far tested 314 FL learners and 35 HL learners of Spanish to see whether low-intermediate learners are able to fully comprehend meaning of a text while attending to grammatical form (or whether such a task is too taxing). In the photo, are my research assistants in the Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab, Joana Kraski and Aleya Elkins, working through the hundreds of test packets.

Research Assistants busy at work.

Research Assistants busy at work.

March 15, 2016
by LTSblog
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LTS Faculty Spotlight Belinda Young-Davy

Belinda Young-Davy has been teaching in the LTS Program since it began in 2004. She is also faculty in the American English Institute (AEI).

How are you connected to the LTS program?

I teach the Second Language Teaching Methods class (LT 435/535), and have also taught the Assessment class (LT 549). I really enjoy teaching methods because it gives students who are about to embark on a language teaching career a sense of the history of the field. It also introduces them to the complexity of language learning in a way they may not have thought of before.  The assessment class in also an eye opening experience. Most academic classes, including language classes, still rely heavily on traditional testing such as multiple choice, fill-in the blanks, etc. The assessment course illustrates how to think outside the box when assessing students, and come up with effective, interesting and even fun ways to assess students. The class is also an opportunity to get ideas about how to include students’ input in the assessment process.

What other classes do you teach?

I teach academic writing and oral discourse for the AEIS (Academic English for International Students), which is an English language support program for matriculated students. I find teaching writing very interesting because students are not just learning techniques. They are learning how to examine and explore other people’s ideas in a way that may give them insights into other cultures, their own culture, and themselves. In fact, it is not unusual to find that the shy, quiet student who sits in the back of the classroom and is cautious about sharing ideas publicly comes out of his/her shell — on paper, at least — by the end of the term.

What projects have you been involved in?

I have also been a student advisor for AEIS students. Being an advisor gave me a new perspective on international students, which is the students’ own perspective. As an advisor, I have gotten a look at the ‘bigger picture’, which includes how they are adjusting to a different culture, a new educational environment and teachers who have very different expectations of them than they have faced before. That information gives me more information I can use to make my students comfortable in my class, and across campus, so that they can succeed in their goals.

How do you balance your life as a teacher with other activities you care about?

That’s hard. Teaching takes a lot of planning, which means it take a lot of time outside the classroom. In the past I tended to let my teaching responsibilities dominate my “leisure” time such as looking for interesting articles/podcasts, trying to create activities that address different learning styles, and reworking things that didn’t work as well as I had hoped in the previous term. The result is that I found I was spending too much time at the computer on weekends. Now, I schedule “down time” for myself so that I don’t forget to have fun.

What do you think is most important for new language teachers to learn or experience?

Patience. Sometimes in our haste to give our students the skills they need we can overwhelm them by going too fast or trying to do in the first weeks of a class. We have so many ideas and activities we can’t wait to bring to the classroom. That means that our good intentions can result in overwhelming our students or failing to get a good idea of who they are as individuals, and listening to their voices. However, if we slow down and take a couple of weeks to get to know who our students are as individuals, we can be much more effective teachers. We might find out, for example, that some of the activities we had planned would be more suitable for a more out-going class, or that they need to be more challenging for a highly motivated group. So, I believe focusing first on who our students are and what they need makes us better language facilitators.

What advice do you have for graduate students coming into the MA program?

February 22, 2016
by LTSblog
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Faculty Spotlight Julie Sykes

Julie M. Sykes is the Director of the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (casls.uoregon.edu) at the University of Oregon. In the LTS program, she teaches courses on the teaching and learning of second language pragmatics and technology and language learning.

How are you connected to LTS?

 

For this post, I thought it would be fun to play some word association to start.

Language: people, the world, communication

Teaching: fun, rewarding, challenging

LTS: amazing students and colleagues, fostering amazing teachers

CASLS: great place to work

UO: beautiful, outdoors, green, Go Ducks!

Innovation: important, exciting, whiteboards are critical!

What are you teaching?

In Winter, I typically teach LT610: Second Language Pragmatics, a course in which we explore the ways meaning is communicated through language. In doing so, we examine our own communication practices as well as ways to help learners build their communication skills through the interpretation and expression of intended meaning. For example, did you know speakers of Spanish typically refuse an invitation three times or that the expression “Hey, we should have coffee sometime.” Isn’t typically intended as an invitation.

 

How does what you teach connect to your research?

My research examines the ways we can utilize innovative tools and techniques to foster second language pragmatic development. Our (and by our, I mean the amazing team of people I get to work with on a daily basis) two most recent projects have examined the impact of using synthetic immersive environments and place-based augmented reality games for the learning and teaching of L2 pragmatics. You can check out more about some of these projects through Mentira (http://www.mentira.org/the-game), Ecopod (https://casls.uoregon.edu/student-programs/residential-immersion/) and Games2Tach (games2teach.uoregon.edu).

 

What do you like about working with graduate students?

Pretty much everything. They are passionate, interesting, dedicated, and focused on the goal at hand. The classroom (used to mean buildings, neighborhoods, offices, coffee shops) is one of my favorite places to be. I am really grateful for a job I love. Students are a huge part of that!

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