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Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

May 29, 2018
by LTSblog
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Faculty Spotlight – Robert Elliott in Costa Rica

In April, LTS faculty member and NILI Associate Director Robert Elliott travelled to Costa Rica to partner with the University of Costa Rica (UCR) in San José to offer 2 weeks of workshops for Indigenous language teachers.

Robert (far left, back row) and the workshop participants in San José, Costa Rica

Tell us about your experience. Who did you work with in Costa Rica?

In partnership with Professor Carlos Sánchez Avendaño of the UCR linguistics department, and Kara McBride of World Learning, the workshops were developed for 15 Indigenous language and culture teachers from 7 languages throughout the country of Costa Rica.  The languages – Ngäbere, Buglere, Malecu, Bribri, Cabécar, Boruca, and Térraba – are in various states of endangerment, and the teachers work predominantly with middle-school aged children.

During a session about online teaching resources

How were the workshops structured?

The workshop was divided into two parts and were loosely based on the model of NILI summer institute classes. The first week, the teachers received training in pedagogy in the morning hours while the afternoon was geared towards learning to use technology tools and generating ideas for making greatly needed language learning materials for their classes. The second week was centered around giving time and support for the teachers to build materials to take home to their communities and share new ideas with other teachers. On one of the last days, the group was able to visit Carlos’ “Languages of Costa Rica” university class, and the teachers all got to use some of their new techniques to teach his class a bit of their languages.

Recording the language of a participant for a teaching material

How do you think the workshop is relevant to LTS and future language teachers?

In some ways, we as language teachers are all in the same boat. We are all involved with promoting language, culture and opening people up to new world views. But having LTS faculty actively involved in minority and endangered language situations is fairly unique and adds to our program. First, we do have future teachers in the LTS program who are planning to teach less commonly taught languages and endangered languages and having faculty actively involved in these issues is important for these students. Further, all future language teachers should be aware of the effects of globalization and the extreme loss of smaller languages both in the Pacific Northwest as well as in the world at large. It is likely, for example, if you teach ESL in the US or Latin America, that you will have speakers of indigenous languages in your class and you may not even realize it. For much of the world, a language exists in a system of other languages, and while we have the ability to do much good as language teachers, opening doors to our students that would not otherwise exist, we also need to also be aware of our ability to do great harm, even unintentionally, particularly to smaller and fragile languages. We hope that all of our teachers leave the LTS program with a sensitivity towards these issues.  

What else did you do there?

While the schedule was busy, not everything was all business all the time. In the evenings and weekends the group was able to visit different venues in and around UCR, such as the Insect museum at the university and the National Museum of Pre Columbian Gold in the center of San José.

How about a snack?

The insect museum contained specimens of gigantic tropical bugs, and we were offered some freshly prepared cockroaches and larvae to sample – yum! The Pre-Columbian museum was described as bittersweet by one of the participants: very interesting but also a reminder of the difficult history indigenous people have endured in Costa Rica and the Americas. I was also able to sneak in some seriously needed beach and surfing time at one of the stellar surf spots in the country, and got lost in a tropical rain forest in the mountains one day. This was an invaluable experience, and I look forward to participating in more workshops for indigenous teachers in the future.

 

March 4, 2018
by Trish Pashby
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Laura Holland in Peru Observing English Teachers

Laura Holland is a popular LTS faculty member who teaches the LT 537 Language Teaching Practicum course and mentors the new faculty and graduate teachers at the American English Institute. She just returned from another adventure in Peru. We caught up with her as she settles back into Winter term at the University of Oregon and asked about her trip. You’ll find her responses below. Don’t miss the excellent advice she offers new teachers at the end!

What brought you to Peru?

Laura Holland in Lima last summer

Last summer I was in Chiclayo, Peru to give the Keynote address and several workshops at the PeruTESOL conference, which I have attended every year since 2014. While there, I was doing some student recruitment for the American English Institute at a bi-national, bi-cultural English language institute in Chicalyo, called ICPNA/Chiclayo. As it happened, they were looking to replace the person who had served as their external observer/evaluator for the last 15 years who was retiring, and when the Director looked me up before my meeting with them, he found that my areas of expertise and specialization coincided exactly with what they were looking for in a replacement. They offered me the job, which will now continue every year, with an annual visit to ICPNA Chiclayo and starting next year, two other cities in the north of Peru as well. These visits include classroom observations and follow-up feedback conversations with each teacher, professional development workshops for all, strategy planning, and activities needed for their CEA accreditation renewal.

The reason I am going into detail for how this came about is that we never know where the opportunities will come from, so while you are in school and then every year after, think about what areas of specialty you are passionate about and then grab every chance you have to develop those skills to gain hands-on experience doing them, even if it is on a volunteer basis at first, as this will give you excellent experiences and skills to add to your growing CVs making you more attractive as a candidate for jobs.

Laura Holland (front center) with ICPNA/Chiclayo teachers, February 2018

What kinds of tasks and activities were you involved in?

I completed 40 classroom observations (mostly 2 hours each, when possible) with 40 post-observation follow-up feedback sessions with each teacher I observed, in which I gave them detailed, specific feedback about everything I thought was strong in their teaching and specific suggestions for areas of focus for the coming year. Together we worked out short-term, medium range and long-term goals and objectives for the coming year, noting what things they would like to accomplish before my next visit in February 2019. I also gave suggestions for ways to bring the language and their classroom activities to life and to incorporate more genuine communication and active learning into their lessons than they have previously been encouraged to do. They asked many questions, shared their underlying pedagogical thinking and were thoroughly engaged in the process.

Faculty training session at ICPNA/Chiclayo

During the two weeks I was there I led five professional development workshops for teachers on the topics ranging from how we pose questions and call on our students, incorporating active learning models, improving lesson plans to include higher order thinking skills (their request), and creating their own in-house professional development systems (also at their request).

Additionally, I have been given the task of rewriting their new ICPNA philosophy, as the current model is in need of some updating according to “best practice” models in the field of language education. As such, we met to discuss strategy and plan our next moves. I will be rewriting the criteria for evaluating teachers and creating new rubrics based on those criteria.

Did you find anything particularly challenging?

There were two aspects that challenged me particularly. The first was the sheer number of hours a day that I was sitting in a desk chair. At UO I even have a stand-up desk, and in the classroom and around campus, I am in constant motion, walking across campus every day, walking all around, so sitting for most of each day, day after day was physically challenging! I would also say that maintaining the necessary pace was the biggest challenge, especially in the South American summer heat. I completed these observations over the course of 14 days, with only one day off in the middle, working 12-13 hours/day, filling two composition books of handwritten notes so that I would be able to give very specific, detailed feedback to each teacher and so that I would be able to write up the official reports once back home during the month of March. My trip coincided exactly with the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, and I definitely felt that I was running my own Olympic event: part sprint, mostly marathon, but 100% amazing!

ICPNA teacher Rosa

What were some of the highlights of your trip?

Hands down the highlight was working directly with the teachers and the mentors, having both group and private time with each person. I came over excited, because I genuinely love teaching and teachers, and to me, classroom observation is one of the great luxuries of my job; I  learn something new from every single observation I ever do, so having this opportunity to do it marathon-style gave me so much food for thought—in addition to the writer’s bump I developed on my right thumb. But I had no idea before the experience the depth of impact I would be able to have. Because these teachers have been rather restricted in the past about how they deliver the curriculum, oftentimes rather terrorized by the summative observation process and told that the communicative activities their teaching instincts were desperate to employ were not allowed, and because I was this new person coming in, they had no idea what to expect from me, and as such, were all extremely nervous about the observations before meeting me, especially the ones first up during that first morning, before the workshops began, and before they began to see “my style.” Over the two weeks, 100% of the teachers, the mentors included, confessed to being so wildly nervous that they hardly slept the night before and many reported terrible “teaching nightmares” before their turn. However, nearly all found that when teachers engage in productive, positively-oriented conversations, where the observing teacher, begins the highly specific feedback session with all the activities and approaches and tools we think they are doing really well, they are open then, to hearing the suggestions. As mentors and supervisors, we can give critique and suggestions framed in the most positive, empathetic way possible, from the perspective of another teacher who also faces these challenges, rather than from some expert voice coming down from on high, and when we take

ICPNA students in action

the time to carefully craft our language and present any “areas to improve” as a challenge we might all face, most teachers turn out to be hungry for this sort of feedback, and eager to experiment with new approaches and tools we might be able to recommend. Of course, it helped that I was usually telling them that what their teaching instincts were screaming at them is considered “best practices” here in the US, and that we would now be moving toward a more active learning approach model throughout the institute. So, it was incredibly gratifying to receive a thousand heartfelt “thank yous” after almost every feedback session and to know that I am contributing to an institutional change that will make the teachers’ work with their students even more inspiring and successful.

Throughout the two weeks, I was amazed and impressed with how teachers were incorporating tools and practices from my workshops into their summative observations, a brave thing to do, to experiment with the unknown when we’re being evaluated. I think it worked in almost all cases because this is what these teachers have been wanting to do all along, less mindless repetition and choral drill, and more meaningful communicative tasks that get students using the language to tell their stories and express their ideas, while practicing the grammatical structures of the day. A moment I will treasure forever came in my last feedback session after my last observation on my last night at ICPNA (10:30pm Saturday night), the very last teacher told me that yes, she had been somewhat nervous before the observation, but more so, that she had never been as excited to “teach-for-evaluation” as she was that night and that she felt she had been “released and freed” to teach in the way she always dreamed she could. Her class had been a blast to observe and filled from start to finish with meaningful activities that put the language into action.

Delicious Chiclayo food: warm smoky ceviche with smoked grilled potato

Oh, another highlight: The food in Peru is outrageously delicious and Chiclayo is particularly famous for their regional and national cuisine.

Do you have any specific tips or advice to share with new or future teachers based on your experiences there?  

  • As you study and teach, reflect on where your passions lie and invest time developing those areas of expertise; you will have more energy for these areas you feel enthusiastic about and many opportunities will come from them as a result of your growing expertise
  • Every few years (or more often), put yourself in the position of our learners, learning some new skill or language or topic, so that you remember what It feels like to be in the learners’ shoes, to not know exactly what’s going on; this will create more empathy for your learners and the struggles they may be facing
  • Create a language learning community in your classroom and another one with your colleagues; our first languages are learned in communities and we should try to create as much of that in the language classroom as we possibly can; everyone has something to teach and something to learn
  • Ask questions you don’t know the answer to and watch how much space it opens up for our students to teach us
  • When you find yourself in a restrictive system that may be at odds with your training and instincts, bend the rules if you safely can, while still working to achieve the objectives of the school, and always reflect on the rationale for why and how you are putting any given approach into practice
  • Be a “reflective” learner/teacher as described by Kolb, Fanselow, and others, and try something out, see what happens, reflect and make small changes and try it again
  • “Leaders aren’t born, they are developed” is a popular saying in leadership training; every leader was once a “newbie” but took the risks to step up and go beyond expectations, a step at a time. Every personality style has the possibility of leadership. Take the excellent education and training you have gotten here at UO and make things happen!
  • Be a lifelong learner

Thank you, Laura–it’s great to have you back in Eugene!!!

Laura Holland (front, 4th from left) and ICPNA faculty “throw the O”

February 18, 2018
by Trish Pashby
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Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) Certificate at the University of Oregon: Meet the Director and Current Students

The University of Oregon offers a certificate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT), which undergraduate and graduate students can acquire while completing their degree in any department. The certificate requires completion of three courses in second language acquisition/teaching, three courses on the target language, and an internship or practicum experience.

We interviewed the Director of the SLAT Program, Professor Melissa Baese-Berk, to find out more about this certificate and what it offers UO students.

  • How did you get involved with the SLAT program? When I started at the UO in 2013, I taught LING440 (Linguistic Principles and Second Language Acquisition), which, at the time, was one of the introductory courses for the SLAT program. A year later, I began a term as the interim director of the program, and took over full time as the director of the program the year after that.
  • What are some of your duties? I have a lot of hats in the linguistics department, including teaching and research responsibilities outside of the SLAT program. Within the SLAT program, I often teach LING444 (Second Language Acquisition), which is the first class many of our SLAT students take. In my role as director, I work with advisors for the other languages where we offer a SLAT certificate to ensure our curriculum is up-to-date and rigorous. I also work to help advertise our program across the university. And I serve as an advisor in the program, so I often meet with students to create a plan of study, to help arrange internships, and to help plan post-graduation experiences.

    Professor Melissa Baese-Berk, Director of the SLAT program

  • What should students know about how it works and what it offers? The program offers an exciting and dynamic approach to understanding second language learning and teaching. The courses range from the highly theoretical (LING444: Second Language Acquisition) to active teaching practice (LT437: Second Language Teaching Practice). This gives students a real leg up when they actually get into a classroom to teach after graduation. The amount of instruction and practice our students get during the certificate program exceeds the minimum recommendations from TESOL International and is substantially more rigorous than many other TESOL or TEFL certificates. From a practical perspective, students should know that the SLAT program consists of 7 courses and can be completed in as few as 3 terms. We have more information about how to plan what courses to take and when here: https://slat.uoregon.edu/course-calendars. Students should also note that if they are currently completing a Bachelor of Science, we also require them to demonstrate proficiency equivalent to two years of college instruction in a non-native language. Students completing a Bachelor of Arts will complete this requirement as part of their university-wide graduate requirements.
  • What do you like best about it? My favorite part of the program is our students! I really love their enthusiasm and passion, and they make my job much more rewarding. I also really love the structure of the program. I think it offers a really nice balance so our students are not only attractive to employers, but are also prepared to succeed in the classroom.
  • What kind of students are drawn to this program? Typically, students who are interested in languages and language teaching. They come from a wide variety of majors across the university, which makes the courses really dynamic. Some students come in with lots of language learning experience and others have relatively little. Some students come in with a background in linguistics, while others have never heard of linguistics before taking their first SLAT class. The wealth of backgrounds and experiences enriches our classes and ensures that the material is accessible to a broad audience.
  • How do students use the SLAT certificate after they graduate? I would say most of our students focusing on English complete the SLAT certificate so that they can teach English abroad. They often use this as an opportunity to travel and explore cultures outside of the US. Some students discover a passion for education and enter volunteer service programs after graduation, like Teach for America or the Peace Corps. Some students also use this as a springboard for graduate education (including our LTS program–see below*). Because many schools and universities in the US require a Master’s degree in order for an individual to teach, some of our students decide to pursue post-graduate education in order to have a greater breadth of opportunity.

Natasha Willow at the American English Institute

Meet three current SLAT students: Natasha Willow, Quynh Tran,                      and Ellie Yeo…

What is your major?

NATASHA: I’m an undergraduate majoring in Chinese.

QUYNH: I’m a Linguistics major.

ELLIE: Linguistics and Chinese.

How did you find out about the SLAT program?

NATASHA: I found out about the SLAT program when I was looking into majoring or minoring in language teaching.

QUYNH: I knew SLAT from my advisor when I met her the first time in orientation. I asked her what should I take besides LING classes since my dream is to become a second language teacher. She introduced me to the program and encouraged me to become a part of it. Until now, I’m still thankful that I asked.

ELLIE: My Linguistics Dept advisor, Prof. Eric Pederson, told me about it after I told him about wanting to be a language teacher.

How would you describe your experience in the program?

NATASHA: This program has given me wonderful opportunities including co-teaching a class at the American English Institute (AEI) and preparing my English language course for when I teach in Taiwan starting in Summer 2018.

QUYNH:I love this program so much. I’ve learned so many new things everyday and met many good friends. I learned how to become a helpful teacher to my future students. I was taught not only teaching methods but also how to solve some normal classroom issues as well.

ELLIE: So far, it has been amazing. My LT classes have been my favorite classes every term. Honestly, they are the only classes where I actually do all of the readings assigned.

Any highlights you’d like to share with us?

Quynh Tran (left) with LTS students Reeya Zhao and Yuxin Cheng

NATASHA: Since I have been a part of this program, my language teaching skills have greatly improved and I have developed a teaching toolbelt that will continue to grow throughout my teaching career.

QUYNH: I love how diverse all of my LT classes are. I also think that having both undergrad and grad students in the same class is really awesome. I learn a lot from my classmates’ journey.

ELLIE: Getting to know the graduate LTS students has been one of the highlights of this program. Everyone is so welcoming, and never have I been in a class where so many people had the same interests as me!

Would you recommend SLAT to others?

NATASHA: I would recommend SLAT to anyone interested in language teaching no matter how experienced or inexperienced they may be. The teachers and students that you will meet in the program are the most wonderful people who encourage you and work with you to help you become a better teacher.

QUYNH: YES!! A very big yes!!

ELLIE: Yes! Definitely! And for linguistics majors, this program is the perfect way to understand the application side of linguistics.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in the SLAT certificate?

NATASHA: Join SLAT!

QUYNH:   Try one class and you’ll never regress.

ELLIE: Try to get a job working with second language learners so that you can be exposed to as many different students as possible. Also try to get to know as many faculty members in the field, because they are a very beneficial source of information.  

What will you do after you graduate?

NATASHA: I will teach in Taiwan starting in Summer 2018.

QUYNH: My plan after I graduate is to go teach English in Korea.

ELLIE: I plan to spend two years in the Peace Corps and then return to the States for graduate school.

Elli Yeo traveling in Thailand

We wish Natasha, Quynh, and Ellie our best wishes for successful completion of the program and an exciting future in language teaching!

*SLAT credits apply toward the LTS MA:

Students who have completed SLAT courses at UO can apply up to 15 credits towards the LTS MA degree. LTS MA alumni who first completed the SLAT certificate as undergraduates include recent graduates Aska Omata (2017), Dan White (2017), Kateland Johnson (2016), and Ava Swanson (2016).

January 20, 2018
by Trish Pashby
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Less Commonly Taught Languages at UO’s Yamada Language Center—Meet This Year’s Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants

LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto directs University of Oregon’s Yamada Language Center. We asked him to share details about Yamada’s program offering courses in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs).

Jeff Magoto, Director of Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon

Since 1997 the Self Study Language Program (SSLP) has been a staple for UO students interested and motivated to learn LCTLs. And since 2004 more than 20 of the teachers in this special program have been Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs). They’ve come from 15 different countries and have taught Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, Korean Persian, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, Wolof, and Vietnamese. In exchange for offering the language and cultural outreach, they get the opportunity to study at the UO for a year tuition free.

The FLTA program, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department, has three goals for their scholars: to teach their language; to become more skilled and well-rounded as language teaching professionals, and to provide cross cultural outreach on behalf of the university to schools and civic organizations in the local communities where they live. Last year there were more than 400 FLTAs in the U.S.

At the UO our FLTAs are connected to three departments: the Yamada Language Center where they work, the Language Teaching Studies program where they study, and the International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) where they’re part of a team of more than 40 international students providing education and insight.

Alums of this program have followed many different paths upon completion of their year of service. Several have stayed on or subsequently returned to UO and LTS where they have completed graduate degrees. Some now have jobs at prestigious universities around the world; most return to their country and become active members of their schools and universities.

Game Night at Yamada Language Center

In a time of limited funding for language study, there probably wouldn’t be an SSLP program without the FLTAs. UO students are deeply appreciative of the opportunities that the SSLP offers and the energy that their tutors bring to their intimate classrooms. Cultural learning is embedded in all that they do.

This year’s FLTAs, Amna Hassan from Pakistan, Henry Rusasa from Tanzania, and Thanaporn (Som-oh) Sripakedee from Thailand, have a busy term ahead of them. Besides taking one class in LTS/Linguistics, each will teach or assist in two classes, and give 1-2 public talks or presentations per week in the community. We interviewed them to find out more about how their year at UO is going.

What have you learned from the experience of teaching at Yamada? 

Amna: My teaching experience at the Yamada Language Center is totally different from the teaching experiences I had in Pakistan. I learned different teaching methodologies and techniques in the past three months which will be very helpful in my teaching career. I learned how to make learning fun for your learners by using activities in class. And realized that this way learners can learn better rather than the classical method which we use in our country. I learned teaching is not about translating the second language into first language, solving exercises or cramming vocabulary words. Language can be taught and learned in many different ways. I am still learning from my colleagues and mentors, and my teaching experience so far is an eye-opening experience.  I am ready to learn more.

Henry Rusasa, Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) from Tanzania

Henry: I have learned a lot! I have learned new ways of teaching a second language. I also learned the activities I can use to make the lessons very interesting in the class. I learned the use of technological devices and having a backup plan when there is a technological glitch. I also learned how to prepare the best slides for the lesson and how to make sure that the lesson is taught timely as planned. And my English language competence has improved.

Som-oh: I always learn from my students. Teaching at YLC, the students come with their motivations for learning Thai. One of my students loves to listen and think before they speak, which has taught me to slow down my lesson. Another 65-year-old student taught me that nobody is too old to learn. He is a community member and he always keeps reflecting his learning experience through Anvil, the interactive media program created by Jeff Magoto, where we have cultural interaction every week. Through Anvil, I have learned to use outside sources such as songs, advertisements and movie trailers to build up a good lesson with my students. Secondly, I have learned to be kind and hardworking. Working at YLC allows me to meet my wonderful colleagues. Both my supervisors, Jeff and Harinder, believe in our potential as tutors. They give great support and advice every time we need it and they are very good listeners. Looking at how they work, they really give great attention and care to what they are doing. With these good examples, I have learned to adapt these with my students as well.

 What have you enjoyed most about teaching at Yamada?

Amna: First of all, I have enjoyed the classes and the technology most. It makes teaching more interesting and fancy. Second of all, teaching is topic-based and not curriculum-based. So, I don’t have to worry about finishing the syllabus in the limited time. Last but not least, I enjoy working at the Yamada because Yamada is home.

Amna Hassan from Pakistan with Jeff Magoto

Henry: I enjoy the cooperation I get from my students. They have a real sense of humor and a great desire to learn Swahili language. This makes it easier for me to share with them my language skills and cultural experience, from which they gain the competence and confidence in using Swahili language to communicate. Their curiosity in learning new words, phrases and tenses bring them to me many times and am always happy to help them. In some of these moments I am always impressed to hear new ideas, words, grammar and tenses which they have discovered themselves. This lightens up the spirit of teaching and learning in the class.

Som-oh: I have enjoyed working in the environment around YLC with its diversity of languages and people. I have met many unique people from around the world: Spain, Nepal, Turkey, Italy, America, etc. I can say that YLC is a great place to learn languages of the world. I believe that this environment promotes understanding towards diversity.

LTS really likes having FLTAs in their classes. What are your feelings about taking courses with LTS students?

Amna: I think FLTAs are lucky to be a part of LTS classes. At first, the class environment and the teaching was all Greek to me because of different teaching and culture compared to my country. But soon I started to enjoy it. LTS faculty and cohort is full of amazing, intelligent and funny people. I love them all.

Henry: I have enjoyed every course I have taken with the LTS students. I can say they are an amazing group of students you can find at the University of Oregon. We have had time to share our cultural and language experiences in a funny way both in class and outside the class. They understand the challenges non-native speakers of English face, and from time to time they help one speaker by making some corrections and suggestions on grammar or the structure of the sentence carefully without offending the speaker. This makes everyone free to air his or her views and participate in the class activities confidently. This teamwork spirit and an understanding we have makes us remain friends even after finishing the course.

Som-oh Sripakadee from Thailand (right) with LTS students Ngan Vu (left) and Rebekah Wang (center)

Som-oh: LTS students aren’t only my classmates but we have also become friends outside the classroom. Taking LT 528 allowed me to get to know teacher-friends and share our teaching passions through projects and discussions. Moreover, the instructor, Trish, provided us with activities to get to know each other better. For example, writing about my discourse community which helped me to get to know other classmates who are interested in the same discourse. From there, I went to see one of my classmate’s Frisbee games. This opened my eyes to a different community in Eugene. Another great experience was to share our international dinners, brunches during the term and after we finished the course. Not many classes I have experienced were like this, and I am hoping to be in an LTS class once again.

It was a pleasure learning from Jeff Magoto about LCTLs at Yamada Language Center and checking in with the current FLTAs teaching Hindi/Urdu, Swahili and Thai. Next week, the LTS blog will feature Yamada’s Vietnamese teacher–Ngan Vu–who is also a student in the LTS MA program.

December 2, 2017
by Trish Pashby
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Robert Elliott’s Trip to Warsaw for Endangered Languages Conference

Robert Ellliott regularly teaches the LT 608 CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning) course in the LTS Program. Next term (Winter 2018) he will also be teaching LT 535 (Language Teaching Methods) and creating an online version of this course to be offered in Summer 2018. In addition to LTS, Robert works at University of Oregon’s Northwest Indian Languages Institute (NILI), through which he takes some very interesting trips…

Dzien dobry

Dzien dobry, (good day/morning/afternoon/evening), a standard greeting in Polish. In November, Robert traveled to Warsaw, Poland. We asked him a few questions to find out what he was doing there.

Why Warsaw?

Old Town Warsaw on Polish Independence Day

Janne Underriner, NILI Director, and I were invited to a small conference and workshop on Endangered Languages that was hosted by the Engaged Humanities project at the School of Liberal Arts, University of Warsaw. I had recently met Justyna Olko, the faculty member in charge of this project, at another conference in Barcelona, Spain earlier in the spring. She was very interested in the work of NILI and the endangered language context of the United States and Pacific Northwest. She is the administrator of a European Union grant that is working on community-university partnerships in language revitalization, something they call Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR is a relatively new idea in the European endangered language

Justyna Olko, host of the conference, helps open a photograph exhibit on endangered languages.

landscape, and Justyna was impressed by the fact that NILI has been doing similar type of work for some 20 years. So we had a paper accepted for the conference and she invited us to come and speak for a half day at the pre-conference workshop.

Who attended this conference?

Largely there were two groups: those working on endangered languages in Europe, and those working on endangered languages in Mesoamerica. The Europeanists were working on languages like Franco-Provençial, Basque or some of the Polish minority languages like Wymysorys. A young 20-something man named Tymoteusz Król was exposed to the Wymysorys language by his grandmother and has become a leader in the revitalization of this language. The Meso-Americanists were working on languages of Mexico and Central America, such as Nahuatl, K’iche’, Mixe, Mixtec, Mayo, and  Nahuat-Pipil. There was so much to learn, both by similarities and by contrasts, to other endangered language situations. Also attending were some notable names in the field, including Leonora Grenoble (University of Chicago), Peter Austin and Julia Sallabank (SOAS University of London), and Colette Grinevald (University of Lyon 2).

Robert (right) socializes with Michel, Janne, Benedict, Marion and Colette after finishing their presentations.

What did you talk about?

For the workshop, we talked about three things: the context of language revitalization in the Pacific Northwest, Language as a Protective Factor for Native Youth, and a Case Study of a Youth PAR Project over time.  For the conference we took a close look at PAR in action as it developed for a class Janne taught that was developed in partnership with tribal groups and the UO. We also had meetings about collaborations on a book with Justyna and our Polish colleagues, and we met with our French colleagues from Lyon, (Colette, Michel Bert, and Benedict Pivot)  to map out some research we are doing.

Who else did you meet with while there?

Robert (center) meets with Krystyna Luto (right), faculty of the Warsaw Medical University, along with one of the department’s Fulbright English teachers to discuss collaborations with the UO.

While in Warsaw I met with Krystyn Luto, faculty member of the Warsaw Medical University. She gave me a tour of the building she works in, the new library, and some of the classrooms and offices of her department. Afterwards, we went to a crepe cafe near her office, and discussed some possible collaborations between the English classes she is in charge of and UO’s American English Institute. The most interesting thing about the medical school is that students can take classes in either Polish or English. Many international students come to Warsaw Medical University to get their degree, and typically they, along with some Polish students who are interested in working internationally, may choose to take their courses in English. Students are usually studying to become M.D.s, nurses, or laboratory technicians, and are typically quite serious about their studies and focused on their need for language.

What did you think of Warsaw?

Modern shopping centers and skyscrapers.

Well first off, I had heard Poland is a beer country and indeed I was not disappointed. I had little to no expectations about the city of Warsaw before going. I had lived in Sweden in the 1990s, and people would travel to Poland for shopping because it was cheap. But my stereotype of a poor, former eastern block country was shattered by this trip. The city was amazing, with tremendous architecture of both “old looking” (Warsaw was completely devastated during WWII and all the “old” buildings are actually reconstructions built post war) and the utmost modern skyscrapers standing side by side, and fantastic murals. There are numerous parks around the city to explore, and the Vistula River runs right near the center and old town. Fantastic museums: The ones I saw included the POLIN Museum of History of Polish Jews, the Resistance Museum, the Neon Museum, and the Chopin Museum. The transportation system – one ticket gets you subways, trolle

Polish desserts! The apple is actually chocolate.

ys and buses – was quick and easy to navigate. The beer was fantastic! And the food was out of this world delicious! The Polish cuisine is very unique, a mixture of northern farm grown produce, bountiful aged meats and cheeses, fresh fish from the Baltic and delicate pastries and desserts, gourmet chocolates, all prepared with extraordinary detail to flavor and presentation. And it was cheap! I never once ate a polish sausage. Oh, and did I mention the beer?

Would you go back?

Yes, for sure, but preferably in the spring or summer.

From the Museum of Neon, where former signs from the Soviet era Warsaw are now being collected.

November 1, 2017
by Trish 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 Trish 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.

 

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