Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

November 15, 2016
by LTSblog

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.


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.


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 – some directions

October 5, 2016
by LTSblog

Faculty spotlight: Kaori 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

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

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

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.



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

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

Faculty Spotlight Julie Sykes

Julie M. Sykes is the Director of the Center for Applied Second Language Studies ( 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 (, Ecopod ( and Games2Tach (


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!

February 8, 2016
by megt

LTS faculty friend spotlight: Ted Adamson, American English Institute

Ted Adamson is an instructor at the American English Institute who is supervising a small group of LTS students this Winter term who are co-teaching a class for international students at the AEI. He observes every class and provides guidance and feedback.

What is most interesting about supervising this course for you as a teacher-educator?

One of the brilliant features of this practicum is that regularly scheduled reflection is designed right into it. When you’re in the field and you’re teaching a full course load, you’re not always doing as much reflection as you would like. So for me, having the chance to observe four highly motivated teachers in action has been a catalyst for my own reflection. We all need to revisit those old assumptions and shake up our patterns and habits.

What other things do you do as faculty in the American English Institute?

I’ve been lucky enough to serve on the Intensive English Program (IEP) Assessment Subcommittee (ASC) with Tom Delaney, Nancy Elliott and many others. The ASC attempts to help ensure that assessment practices in the IEP are valid and reliable. I’ve worked as the lead teacher for English-Prep Oral Skills many times since 2012. In that time, I’ve been lucky enough to have a robust LTS graduate student presence in the class: both long and short-term observers and a wonderful intern in Fall 2015. More recently, I’ve designed and taught an AEI elective course called Teaching Vocabulary From Movies for lower level students in the IEP. The course meets for 2 hours per week, during which time we use entire motion pictures as primary texts for the purpose of developing language.

What was your own path to the UO?

I got my start in ESL through a series of volunteer opportunities and jobs in K-12 education in my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In that time, I worked extensively with immigrant and refugee populations in high school, junior high and adult education settings. I worked as a technology proctor, a substitute teacher, a tutor and an unlicensed social studies teacher before going back to get my M.Ed. I did a working summer in New York City in 2006. This was my introduction to the world of the language institute. I then spent 4 years teaching at Global Language Institute, a wonderful IEP in St. Paul, MN. My wife and I relocated to Eugene in 2011, at which time I began my work at the AEI.

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

Having the chance to conduct classroom observations came immediately to mind. I’d advise new language teachers to visit as many different classrooms as possible. Seeing different instructors implementing different objectives with different learners is an absolute boon. I never pass up the chance to observe another teacher. There’s never an instance where I fail to come away with one or two nuggets of insight. It could be something as straightforward as an idea for classroom systems or a lesson plan. More often than not, I leave an observation with a basketful of ideas. And sometimes, you come away thinking, “Wow, I feel like I really got a sense of what this person stands for, as an educator.” This is one of the things that I love about our profession: that a profound experience like that can come out of a simple classroom visit.

January 15, 2016
by LTSblog

LTS faculty spotlight Melissa Baese-Berk

Melissa Baese-Berk is faculty in the Linguistics Department whose research focuses on 2nd language speech perception and production. She will be teaching a seminar in Spring that is open to LTS students.

How are you connected to the LTS program?

What are you most passionate about in your work?

I’m passionate about understanding how people learn languages and discovering how learning languages impacts cognition and our use of our first language. Although my research is more theoretically oriented, I am also very interested in the applied implications of the theoretical findings. I love working with students from various backgrounds to better inform my research questions, and hopefully to help inform their teaching practice!

What do you think students get out of the LTS program?

I think the LTS program has a number of strengths, including the support of a cohort. However, I think our greatest strength is the diversity of students and student interests in the program. Students are hoping to teach a variety of languages in a variety of settings after the program. Because of this, our students leave the program being quite well rounded, having thought not just about their target language and target context, but about language teaching much more broadly.

What advice do you have to applicants to the program this year?

I would encourage students to think about what they want from a graduate program and to try to convey that to the admissions committee. I’m always excited when an applicant makes it clear that they understand what our program offers and demonstrate how our offerings will help them achieve their goals.



December 17, 2015
by LTSblog

Faculty Spotlight Robert Davis (Romance Languages)

Robert Davis is professor of Spanish and Director of Language Instruction in the Department of Romance Languages. From 2009 to 2014, he was the director of the Middlebury at Mills Spanish School (at Mills College, Oakland CA), a language immersion program of the Middlebury Language Schools.

What is your connection to LTS students/the LTS program?

As one of the applied linguists on campus, I collaborate with the LTS faculty and occasionally have LTS students in my classes on Spanish linguistics. We have also had LTS students in Romance Languages as Graduate Teaching Fellows, and it has been a pleasure to work with these students who are so motivated to become language teachers. We are working on promoting the idea of a concurrent LTS-Romance Languages degree, which would offer students a GTF position while they complete two MAs in the two departments.

Could you tell us about your work in language pedagogy and Spanish linguistics?

My training was in both formal and applied linguistics, and since coming to UO, I have focused on applied topics. My specialty is the creation of language learning materials within the frameworks of content-based instruction and interculturality.

What do you enjoy most about working with graduate students? 

I always learn so much from my graduate students! In my most recent methods class, they designed action research projects that touched on topics from diverse learning styles to improving pair/group interactions in the L2 classroom. Their passion and hard work are always inspiring to me, and it’s a honor to be able to prepare the next generation of language teaching professionals.

What do you think is most important for new language teachers to remember? (video response below)


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