LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

February 14, 2020
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight – Johanna

Johanna is a current student in the 2019-2020 LTS cohort. Her story highlights how a teacher’s goals in TESOL can be enriched by a program focused on multiple languages.

Johanna (2nd from left) with fellow teachers-in-training in Valencia, Spain

Hi Johanna! Please introduce yourself to the readers, and tell us all a bit about you!

Hi, I’m Johanna! I come from Bend, OR where I grew up and spent most of my life. All during my time growing up, I knew that I liked grammar and reading, and I thought that I wanted to be an editor for a publishing firm for many years. However, as I moved on to my undergraduate studies at Willamette University, I took a job tutoring English to students as part of the American Studies Program there, and I found out that I loved not just thinking about English on my own but also sharing it with others.

In the wild. (Cape Perpetua near Yachats, OR)

Outside of my interest in language-y things, I am interested in crochet, hiking, animals, spending time with friends, and trying to play sports. At any given time, I have three crochet projects going on, but I never seem to complete them. And when I say “hiking,” I really mean nature walks. I do not have the dedication to really call myself a hiker. However, this year, I have tried playing the most sports since I was in middle school PE. A group of us in LTS like to get together for badminton, basketball, football, rock climbing, etc, and while we haven’t mastered any of those sports yet, we sure are enthusiastic participants. When I’m not pretending to have an active lifestyle, I like to be at home where I have two cats and a tortoise. I like to spend time playing with them and enjoying their company. However, they are some of the worst study companions as they always try to get between me and the computer.

How did you find out about the LTS program? What made you want to apply for it?

I found out about LTS when the teacher of the class I was tutoring for recommended it to me. She praised its reputation for multilingual teacher education and thought it would be a good fit for my desires in a program. While I had originally planned on doing doing an MA TESOL, I decided to look into LTS. After some research, I became excited at the concept of working alongside teachers of other languages and at the prospect of what I would learn from everyone’s different experiences with language teaching. I ultimately decided to apply for the program after doing a CELTA certificate and working alongside a highly diverse cohort of teachers from around the world. I learned I loved working with people who had experiences different from mine and that challenged my preconceptions of teaching. Shortly after finishing my CELTA, I applied for LTS, confident it was the ideal program for me.

Teaching an English course during CELTA certification

Tell the readers about your travels! Where have you been before, and where do you hope to go in the future?

I have not done extensive international travel, but I’ve done a little. I went to Japan for 2 ½ months when I was in high school on a Rotary Exchange program. When I was there, I lived in Tsuruoka, Yamagata and attended Chuo High School. This experience was my first experience on my own and my first experience out of the country, so it was a highly defining moment in my life. I also travelled to Spain when I was 22, and that is where I did my CELTA certificate. I spent one month in Valencia, and then I travelled the Mediterranean Coast for a week before heading back to reality. In the future, I hope to travel throughout Latin and South America and the Carribean. In particular, I would like to go to Mexico, Peru, and Brazil, but I would go anywhere I had the opportunity to.

I know that you have a GE position at CASLS. Can you tell us about how that has been? What have you been up to over there?

I am a GE at the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) which has been an experience largely congruent with what I have learned in LTS. At CASLS, they prioritize teaching through complex scenarios and immersive experiences which has been interesting because I have been able to be a part of testing those and designing supporting materials around those. However, the most rewarding part of the job has been working in collaboration with the other grad student in the office. We have been able to tag-team a lot of projects and learn in collaboration with one another. Having someone else to bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with has made this job enjoyable and productive.

We’re nearing the halfway point of the LTS program. What has been your favorite part of it so far? What has been the most challenging?

My favorite part has, of course, been taking the teaching practicum course with Laura Holland in Fall Quarter. It was such an enjoyable class, and I learned a lot about creating a quality discussion course while being able to immediately implement the things I learned in the class we all co-taught. I always woke up excited to go to this class. Shout out to Laura for making my first quarter on campus warm and welcoming and for giving me the confidence to start my master’s degree strong.

Celebrating the season with Santa Duck and other LTS members

The most challenging thing has been realizing that I won’t be able to work will all the wonderful people in my cohort this closely beyond this year. I have really enjoyed everyone’s knowledge, perspectives, and kindness, and I will miss everyone greatly once we graduate. I have really learned the value of working with people you like and respect. It results in hugely positive working environments where you can learn a lot and contribute a lot to those working around you. The other most challenging thing is when professors require submission of an assignment in hardcopy. Why do I keep losing all my hardcopies? Where do they keep going?

Any exciting plans for Spring break?

Nothing set in stone yet, but hopefully I’ll get out of town for a few days and maybe go see some water, like at a lake or at the ocean. That would be a breath of fresh air.

 

January 27, 2020
by krobin14
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Student Spotlight- Cathy Lee

Cathy Lee is a current LTS student in her third term. Although she’s lived in the US for 15 years, Cathy joined us in Eugene last summer for her LTS adventure! Cathy’s story is unique, and her presence and experience enriches our current cohort in many ways.

In the Alps of Switzerland

 

Hi Cathy! Can you please introduce yourself to the readers, and tell us a bit about you?

Hello! My name is Cathy Lee.  I am slightly hesitant in calculating how many years have passed since I left the academia that I had studied in South Korea. It has been around 30 years ago! I moved to the US about 15 years ago. After moving and all my family affairs were settled stably, I greatly missed my teaching career (mathematics and English) at the learning center that I owned in Korea.

With my students at KSSNJ in NJ

Seek and you shall find!  This phrase has been a direction indicator since I found the power of the saying in my old enough age. So, roughly six years ago, I ended up teaching the Korean language at the Korean School of Southern New Jersey. At the school, I experienced so much fun with my young students and gained the invaluable trigger to professionally teach the Korean language.

I moved to Eugene, Oregon, and joined the LTS cohort last summer, leaving my soul mate (husband) at home in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Boarding the LTS boat was my incredible choice and chance. I have been enjoying the sailing of my journey and am excited to see the port that I shall reach.

 

What made you decide to apply to the LTS MA program?

King Sejong who created Korean alphabet

The most motivating element that made me apply to the LTS MA program is the eagerness to learn how to productively teach the Korean language. When I looked through the LTS MA program at UO, the program description of providing teaching knowledge and training in the current trends immediately drew my attention, and my heart started to beat with joy.  Most of all, my director Keli’s kind direction and consideration allowed me to leave for Eugene.

 

You are unique from many of the students in the LTS cohort this year, in that you are returning to school after many years! What has this experience been like for you? What has surprised you the most about your time in the program so far?

When my children did not need my physical support as a mom, I raised a question to myself; what do you want to do with your life? I found my eagerness to study more about how to authentically teach the Korean language. Taking some college or community college courses near my home in Cherry Hill did not satisfy me. Unconsciously, I wanted to enter the area of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development for my own development. I got to this Zone, my LTS at UO. I have been constructing my practical knowledge with the help of our Program. Each course in the LTS program seems to be prepared specifically for me. I have been thrilled with the new learning in language teaching methods and planning, and also the cultural approach in language. The professors in all these courses are the models of their class materials. These have been all beyond my expectations.

Returning to school was my praiseworthy decision!

 

Since you are new to Eugene, how have you been enjoying it? Have you been able to do anything fun or exciting in the area? Is there anything you really want to see or do that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

On my way to Umpqua Hot Spring in OR

Yes, I have been enjoying living in Eugene. This city has particular characteristics. It has such a refined country mood, so I have been feeling as if I am in the middle of East America and Europe. I felt this especially when I visited a small gallery in an eclectic neighborhood, I captured some degree of flying humanistic freestyles. So many common individuals expressed their own ideas through life-friendly materials and usages. There were invisible orders for respect other individuals among the freedom as well.

I also went to a beer brewery recently, and businesses in Eugene seem to operate peacefully. Everybody with family or friends seems to be comfortable to stay to have some food from a food truck right outside and listen to live music, or play a variety of board or card games.

 

With Winter term well underway, the MA project proposals are due in just a few weeks! Can you tell us a bit about what kind of project you are thinking of doing?

When I was assigned to the MA project, I asked myself exactly what specific area of teaching Korean I wanted to dig into. Without hesitation, I pointed out the word “honorifics.” During my Korean teaching experiences, I noticed that the usage of honorifics is a hidden obstacle for most learners.  Honorifics are weaved with cultural features and flavors. How exciting to untwist the invisible lump of honorifics! This project would go with many types of research and also be somewhat agonizing to get more clear goals. However, I will one day hear my future students’ expression, “Learning honorifics is an interesting and fascinating language learning process!”

 

Outside of LTS classes, have you been able to do any work around campus? Internships or GE positions? Tell us a bit about that

Pumpkin carving party in YLC at UO

Yes, I have been working as a GE with the Korean classes at Oregon State University language teaching since I started my MA program at the UO. Current applied technology in education enables me in Eugene to work for OSU in Corvallis. Via online, working with the students’ Korean language is an exciting and rewarding process. I listen to the students’ recording and send written and if needed, individual recording feedback in Korean. Sometimes, I meet students via Skype. I admire the students’ work and their gradual achievements. Also, I am working as a GE from this winter term in the Linguistic Department at the UO. I strongly realized that studying as a student in the LTS MA program is far beyond studying language teaching. Most of our cohort have gotten their GE positions. It is an absolutely beautiful balance between the theoretical study and practical experiences in an educational ground.

 

When you’re not studying or working hard, what do you like to do for fun? (Either here in Eugene, or back home with your family)

I love to travel to new places if some conditions are available such as money, time, and someone who enjoys a trip with me. I hope to get a long break very soon, and I wish to visit Korea to travel a few cities in Korea with my mother to take pleasure with the local food and culture. I also like to meet friends and enjoy a cup of tea or beer while talking. Often these days, I love to have the simple enjoyment of watching YouTube.  I love to hear people’s life stories through the computer screen because I am very much a people person. Isn’t it ironic?

 

 

 

January 17, 2020
by krobin14
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Student Spotlight with Reagan (Jing) Yu

Reagan (Jing) Yu is a current LTS student from China. He has been studying in the United States for 7 years, and is in his second term of the MA program. Reagan also works at Yamada Language Center teaching Cantonese.

Having fun in Hong Kong

Hi Reagan! Please tell us all a bit about yourself

Hello! My name is Reagan (Jing) Yu. I am from Guangzhou, China. I’m currently in my 7th year of studying abroad in the U.S. (3 years in Maine, 1 year in New York and 2 years in Oregon). As you can probably tell, I move around a lot, and I enjoy the excitement of seeing unfamiliar landscapes, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. One of the fun facts about me is that, by 20, I have traveled to all Chinese provinces and 30 of the U.S. states.

 

We’re beginning Winter term now, but were you able to do anything fun for holiday break?

Yes! I decided to go back to China for winter break since my cousin was getting married. I was in my hometown Guangzhou for 2 weeks, but also got to backpack to Xi’an, Shanghai and Huizhou.

 

Exploring nature in Maine

What made you decide to apply for the LTS program?

One of my parents is Hakkah and the other is Hokkien, but I grew up in the biggest Cantonese-speaking city in China, where Mandarin is the official language. I have been exposed to many different languages since I was a toddler. I have actively observed how languages are used, acquired and taught when I was growing up. I have always dreamed of becoming a teacher. For languages especially, I have had “weird” ways of approaching them, and I put a lot of thought into how I would put them into rules to help people understand. I think I spent more time imagining myself up on the podium then actually paying attention to the class when I was going to school.

I majored in language education when I was a freshman in New York, but with the realization of my lack of deep, scientific linguistics background, I eventually transferred to UO and majored in Linguistics. Therefore joining LTS was a more than logical decision. LTS is the best fit for me, in which I will be able to apply my “fresh out of the oven” linguistics knowledge to what I want to do: teaching.

Also, who wouldn’t want to stay in Oregon for longer?

 

Having finished the first two terms of the LTS program, how have things been going for you so far?

Things have been going great. I think I have gotten to know most of the cohort very well. We as a group have also established a good network both academically and personally. I believe it makes researching much easier if you can casually drink beers with the people who are working on the same things, because people will express their ideas without holding back. It is true though, even without the beer, we have had a lot of opportunities to exchange our thoughts and brainstorm with each other during the first 2 terms and it has been very helpful.

Other than that, I took a few weeks to get used to the grad school life, where finding a balance is a major necessity. Between school and work; literature and science; Japanese 101 on Netflix and Spanish 101 on Duolingo; junk food and an oversized bag of spinach; water and beer… at last I think I have reached a good balance point at this time and I am ready for more challenges to come.

 

I know that you have been teaching Cantonese at Yamada Language Center, can you tell us about that experience?

Reagan with his Cantonese class at YLC

Yes. The class itself is very fun and engaging (I hope my students agree!). It belongs to the self study language program under the Yamada Language Center that students can take for 1-2 credits per term. This class is designed to be student-centered and focuses on interpersonal communication as well as cultural awareness.

I got involved with Yamada 2 years back when I was simply talking to the director, Jeff Magoto, about the idea of having a Cantonese class. And through countless obstacles we (99% Jeff) made the class happen, and it has been the most popular self-study class ever since.

We have had many students from different backgrounds take the class, and we have formed a great, and welcoming Canto community.

 

Outside of studying hard, and working at YLC, what do you like to do in your free time?

I am a big backpacker and tea drinker. I also enjoy playing the guitar, the keyboard and some other instruments for fun.

Archery and reading literature are also what I would do on a weekly routine. (At least recently)

For the rest of the time, I love to drink Japanese beer and whiskey.

 

MA project proposals are due in February (no pressure!), but have you decided on a topic yet? Anything about it you’d like to share with us?

Yes! I am the only one in LTS (that I know of) this year that is going to conduct an actual study for MA project, so I will have to start recruiting and running participants as soon as winter term starts.

My topic is:“The 2-way influence of absolute pitch & tones and its pedagogical application for adult non-tonal language speakers”

I am aiming to find some correlations between tones in music and tones in Cantonese (or any tonal languages), in order to come up with potentially better pedagogical approaches to the acquisition and teaching of tones of tonal languages.

I will be working in the linguistics lab under Dr. Melissa Baese-Berk’s supervision.

 

With students in Gansu, China

 

Thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you!

November 25, 2019
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight with Dustin! (& ORTESOL 2019)

Dustin Robson is a current LTS student from right here in Eugene, Oregon. He is currently in the 2nd term of the program, and is here today to tell us a bit about himself, how he’s doing in LTS so far, and what his plans for the future are!

Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? Where have you traveled?

While originally from Long Beach, California, I’ve actually lived in Eugene for most of my life. My family moved up to Oregon when I was pretty young, so I like to consider myself a real Oregonian! I haven’t traveled as extensively as some of our cohort, but I’ve been all over the West and Midwest parts of the US (including parts of Canada and Mexico), as well as Japan and Vietnam.

Dustin (in red, standing) with friends and current/past LTS students Reagan Yu, Ngan Vu, Alina Chen, and former FLTA Amna Hassan

What made you want to join the LTS program?

 Having lived in Eugene before, I also attended the University of Oregon for my undergraduate years. I majored in Japanese, and I also earned the SLAT (Second Language Acquisition and Teaching) certificate for English. Many of those courses overlap with the LTS program, so I had the pleasure of taking courses taught by LTS faculty, and working alongside the 2017-18 cohort. I made friends with several members of that cohort, and also FLTAs (Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants) from that year, and their praise for the program and its faculty were a major factor for my decision to apply to it as well.

Between graduation and beginning the LTS program, what were you up to?

After graduating from the UO, I left to go to teach English in Vietnam, in a small town called Vũng Tàu.

Vũng Tàu

It’s a coastal city about 70 miles east of Ho Chi Minh City, known for its tourism and beaches. I chose Vung Tau to teach in as opposed to Ho Chi Minh City, because I liked the idea of working in a smaller town, and one without a large surplus of foreigners and expats teaching English. I felt that I would have more opportunities for leading my own classes, and really getting to stretch all my teaching muscles, and I also felt I would be filling a great need for the school I worked at.

The initial couple of months were very difficult getting adjusted to life in a new country, and there were many things that were quite scary at first (motorbikes and the traffic!), but I eventually was able to get into a groove with both living and teaching there. From all the chaos of those early days there, I was really able to learn a lot about myself as a teacher and as a person. Being able to work with learners as young as five years old, all the way up to 18 years old (and a few adults as well) was a terrific chance for me to develop so many skills as a teacher, and also learn lots about what I don’t know, and need to improve. Overall, the experience was absolutely essential, and a very formative journey for me.

One of Dustin’s classes

You’re in the second term of the LTS program — how has it been going so far? What have been some of the highlights up until this point?

Everything has been going well! Having lived in Eugene for years, there isn’t really any living adjustments for me, but for those in our cohort (and the FLTAs) who are new to Eugene, it has been great getting to show them around town, and see what it’s like for someone to experience life in Oregon for the first time! Recently some of us were able to get together and carve some pumpkins for Halloween, which was a wonderful (and messy) experience to share with all who were able to attend.

Aside from life in Eugene, Oregon, one of my absolute highlights from this past Summer was helping out with the Fulbright Orientation that was hosted by the UO this past August. From August 18-22 63 Fulbrighters came to Eugene to prepare for a year abroad in the US. The event had a little of everything, from panel discussions on life as an international student in the US, to games and recreation, and even a bit of microteaching! Yamada Language Center’s Jeff Magoto (and his wonderful team) helped coordinate the event, along with the assistance of many LTS faculty, and current/past members of LTS. It was a great privilege to be able to help, even in a small way, with this wonderful event, that brought people from all parts of the world together in Eugene. Many friendships were made that week, before 59 of those Fulbrighters left to other schools across the country. Four Fulbrighters stayed at UO for the year, and are in classes with many of the current LTS cohort right now. You can learn more about them here: https://babel.uoregon.edu/meet-uos-fltas

63 Fulbrighters from around the world gathered at the UO this Summer

In addition to helping with the Fulbright event, I have also been working at Yamada Language Center helping in any way that I can. I have had the pleasure of helping Director Jeff Magoto present ANVILL at two conferences so far, COFLT and recently, ORTESOL. I’m also helping run the Yamada Language Center Language Exchange program, which serves as a way for students to find others to meet up with, and share each others languages! More information on that can be found here: https://babel.uoregon.edu/language-programs/language-exchange

You mentioned ORTESOL. Could you tell us more about what that is? 

Sure! ORTESOL is a conference that was held on November 15th and 16th up in Clackamas, Oregon. As the name implies, ORTESOL is the Oregon chapter of TESOL, and the conferences have many wonderful people presenting on topics in the world of English language teaching. At this most recent conference, there were presenters from past LTS alum, teachers at AEI, and LTS faculty. I was up there helping Jeff Magoto give a presentation on interactive video (housed within ANVILL, an education platform created by an LTS alum — Norman Kerr), and its many uses within a language classroom.

Jeff Magoto, LTS faculty member and YLC Director, at ORTESOL

Any ideas on what your MA final project may look like?

 It’s still really early, we only just turned in our practice proposals! However, working with Jeff on ANVILL over the past several months, I am interested in further pursuing the idea of transforming traditional language classrooms through the use of technology. It’s still the very early stages, but that’s currently the thread that I’m pulling on the most! Ask me again in two months — my answer may have changed!

Lastly, any plans for the holidays?

 Lots of much needed rest, and time spent with friends and family. I wasn’t around for the holidays last year, so I’m looking forward to making up for lost time this year!

July 22, 2019
by krobin14
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Student Spotlight Shiyun (Jasmine) Li

Jasmine Li is a current LTS student who is graduating this Summer 2019. She has focused on English materials and teaching in the program, and is completing her project on a topic she loves: stimulating English learners’ interest in authentic literature  through the the careful integration of both modified and authentic texts.

Jasmine with some poster materials in her curriculum class winter term

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Shiyun Li, but everyone just calls me Jasmine. I’m from China, but I’ve spent most of my undergraduate and graduate years in the US. I have a BA in English Literature and I went back to China and taught English for a year before coming to Eugene to continue my studies. I’m always enthusiastic about short stories and detective novels. And traveling by myself is what I like to do the most in my spare time outside the school. I love to meet with different people along the way and listen to their stories, which to me is even more exciting than travel itself. The counties that are still on my travel list are: Japan, Italy and Jamaica. I hope I can visit these countries in the near future and have more exciting adventures along the way.

What are you working on in your MA project, and how are you feeling about it now that you are halfway done?

I’m currently working on the topic of use extensive reading approach in EFL context and integrating modified and authentic materials to teach reading for adult and young adult English learners. I feel like everything I’ve been creating for the project is finally coming together now. It is never easy when you are writing, but at the same time you are looking forward to write more about it. And I really like how my perspective has changed during the process of writing and how much I’ve learned so far by working on my project.

Sunrise at Miami Beach

What was most interesting for you in your English and Chinese language teaching internship experiences this past term?

The most memorable part about my internships is the teaching I did in AEIS (Academic English for International Students) because it was the first time I taught a cross-cultural language class at the university level. In the program I’ve learned how to plan a lesson and create materials according to learners’ needs and abilities, so it was a great opportunity for me to put what I’ve learned in practice. It is really rewarding to see students are doing a good job and learning new things from what I’ve prepared for them.

What are you hoping to do after LTS?

After what I’ve learned in the LTS, I’m hoping that I could be given an opportunity to continue my education and doing research in the language teaching field. I’d like to pursue a PhD in Second Language Acquisition and put my focus on bilingualism and second language learning process. But still, I wish to always be a good language teacher in my students’ perspective.

June 17, 2019
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight Tera Reid-Olds

Tera is a current student who is enrolled in LTS as a concurrent degree with her Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature. Her MA project focuses on the integration of postcolonial and diasporic literature in university ESL courses.

Tera in Valence, France where she taught English for a year

What inspired you to do an MA in LTS?

I decided to do an MA in LTS after two years as an Italian GE in the Department of Romance Languages. I’m completing my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and I’ve loved being able to teach both language and literature classes at UO. I applied to the LTS program because I wanted to develop a more comprehensive knowledge of SLA and best practices in the language teaching field. LTS has also empowered me to better understand and articulate my own philosophy for teaching in a foreign language. And I’ve enjoyed taking LT classes while teaching French this year, because it has encouraged me to be a more reflective teacher every day.

You have learned and taught more than one second language – what have you enjoyed most about these experiences?

I feel very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to experience different language teaching contexts and approaches as both a learner and an instructor. Last year, I taught English at a high school in France and the teachers I worked with requested that I not tell the students I speak French so that they would be forced to communicate with me in English. It was a rare opportunity for me to teach my native language in a context where all the students shared an L1 that was my L2. As a French and Italian instructor at UO, I’ve primarily taught students who share my L1 and are acquiring an L2. In these contexts, I can share my own L2 experiences with my students (i.e. my very clear memory of being introduced to the French subjunctive for the first time!) and brainstorm with them strategies for maximizing exposure to these languages while living in the U.S. In the summer of 2015, I studied Arabic at the Middlebury Language School. This was my first ever experience in an immersion program that required each participant to sign a pledge not to use any language other than the target language. The pledge is reinforced by the fact that you are surrounded by the language all day every day. My Arabic improved dramatically in this program, allowing me to better appreciate and advocate for the Romance Language department’s policy of speaking only in the target language even from the first day. I think that an immersion approach is particularly important in a FL context because the amount of input the students receive in those contexts is limited. All that is to say: I’ve most enjoyed these experiences for how different they are. The different contexts and students I’ve encountered have taught me to be a more adaptive and receptive language learner and teacher, which I hope can benefit my future students (wherever I end up!).

The Language Pledge at Middlebury Language School, where Tera learned Arabic

How do your two graduate degrees interrelate, from your perspective?

I believe that Comparative Literature and LTS have great potential for collaboration. In Comparative Literature, one of our departmental requirements is to be able to teach across at least three national and linguistic traditions. It has been one of the rewarding experiences of my academic career to share COLT seminars with scholars who specialize in different languages, historical contexts, media and texts. We all bring different strengths to the program. In LTS, I have had similar experiences learning from teachers of less commonly taught languages and visiting Fulbright scholars. I feel that both programs are flexible and inclusive, with a curriculum and faculty that encourage students to chart their own path through the program. The result of this department support from LTS and COLT is that both my MA project and my dissertation reflect who I am and what I have to offer as a scholar and a teacher.

Are there some related themes across the work you are doing across the two programs?

Both my MA project and my dissertation engage with points of contact between languages and the highly contextualized strategies of multilingual speakers. The literary texts I look at in my dissertation are explicitly concerned with linguistic imperialism and the way that language can function as a form of resistance or as a tool of oppression. Research for my MA project has introduced me to Critical Applied Linguistics and Critical CALL, fields which have opened new avenues for dissertation research. Exploring the intersections between literary criticism and applied linguistics has strengthened both projects, and I see myself continuing to draw on both degrees in my trajectory as a teacher and a scholar. LTS and COLT are a great match!

Thank you, Tera, and good luck with your last months in school this summer!

March 8, 2019
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight Zuxuan Ni and Yang Li

This month’s LTS blog post features Zuxuan Ni and Yang Li, who are both interested in teaching Mandarin to older children in the U.S. In LTS they have been taking some classes specifically focused on Chinese linguistics and teaching, as well as assisting middle and high school learners of Chinese at Oak Hill School in Eugene.

Yang and Zuxuan in front of Oak Hill School where they are assisting learners in Chinese. The snow is rare in Eugene!

Hello Xuan and Yang! Tell us a little about yourselves.

(Zuxuan) My name is Zuxuan Ni, sometimes my friends call me Xuan. I am from Beijing, China. I got married in Seattle and moved with my husband to Eugene three years ago. My interests include second language teaching and psychology and education. I like traveling. When I was studying for my first MA in psychology and education in England, I visited several European countries among which Denmark was my favorite. Now I am enjoying my time studying language teaching here in Oregon. I love this beautiful state very much and hope to become a Chinese language teacher after graduation.

(Yang) My name is Yang Li, and I’m from Hunan, China, where foods are known for being spicy. It’s no surprise that I love spicy foods. I got married in my hometown two years ago and came to the US with my husband, who is studying at Oregon State University right now. I’m really happy to study in LTS program and met new friends, this is a valuable treasure for my life.

What experiences in teaching did you each have before starting the program?

(Zuxuan) I worked as an L2 English teacher at an international high school in Beijing for half a year. During this period, I planned and delivered English lessons to seven classes with 20 students in each class. It was a great experience in which I engaged in creating a stimulating learning environment and varying my students’ learning activities in class by providing more interactive tasks to practice.

(Yang) I taught English grammar and TOEFL and IELTS reading before starting LTS. After graduating in 2013, I started working in an International high school for two years. During that time, I was responsible for teaching English grammar and tutoring students with their TOEFL reading. Then, in order to have more chances to gain teaching experience and work near my hometown, I got another job to teach TOEFL and IELTS reading in a private Language training center. Normally, the class size was pretty small, with three or four students per class. I enjoy teaching students and being one of their supporters. However, I desperately felt that I myself needed to improve before I could really help my students to a larger extent. So that’s why I’m here.

Yang Li visiting San Francisco

What attracted you to a program like LTS?

(Zuxuan and Yang) As we delved deeper into our English teaching work in China, we encountered some practical problems of developing our course designs and fostering students’ autonomous learning, which made us realize that we lacked some professional training in language teaching. This is why we are here in the LTS program. The courses offered by LTS are what we are expecting to learn. For example, in Second Language Teaching Planning, we learned how to analyze and examine the major methods used by L2 teachers to teach target languages as well as the principles and concepts associated with the L2 teaching. Such course perfectly met our learning needs and helped us build a firm foundation for a further career. We are very grateful for it and looking forward to the following terms!

We’re glad to hear that! What are you doing now in the program?

(Zuxuan and Yang) We are learning to develop language course designs for our target learners in the program. It is very helpful for us to learn to analyze our specific teaching contexts and set appropriate learning outcomes so that we can make our future language teaching successful. In addition we are working as Chinese language partners to teach speaking and listening at Oak Hill School (a K-12 private school in Eugene). We meet with two intermediate-level students aged 16 once a week to provide them with more language input and encourage them to talk with us about some cultural topics. We are happy to see that the students become more and more confident in speaking Chinese and they start accurately
using higher-level constructions when talking to us. It is always a pleasant time with the students.

What are you thinking of doing for your final MA capstone projects?

(Zuxuan) For my final MA project, I plan to design a task-based Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) course for the purpose of reinforcing middle and high school students’ oral skills by using authentic materials. I want to develop a course which is suitable for young students and offers helpful scaffolding for those lower-proficiency learners in the K-12 context. Since Chinese pronunciation, especially the tones, is generally considered to be a critical challenge for non-tonal language speakers, my project will focus on engaging students in meaningful tasks which involve a variety of tonal practice. Besides, I will also utilize a usage-based constructionist approach to offer form-function mapping to
students to learn distinctive Chinese structures. Hopefully, my final MA project can be useful for my future language teaching after graduation.

Zuxuan in San Antonio before joining LTS

(Yang) After graduation, I want to have more experience studying or working in the US. Therefore, for my final project, I’m thinking of teaching Chinese in a CFL context and to build learner agency by utilizing task-based language teaching principle in classrooms. And I’m seeking to see the effectiveness of the task-based approach in motivating students and in optimizing their learning experience. As a foreign language, there are not many opportunities for learners to practice Chinese, and mostly the learning behaviors are triggered by external incentives. So, I believe there is an urgent need to find how to encourage students to take initiative in learning Chinese. I hope my final project will be beneficial for my future teaching career.

Finally, this program is intensive, and we are now more than halfway through it! Are you looking forward to the last spring and summer terms?

(Zuxuan and Yang) Yes, definitely. We are definitely looking forward to the spring and summer terms. Because we may start guest teaching in different elementary schools in Spring and get more familiar with classrooms in the US. We are so excited about having these opportunities and experience. Also, we’ll start to write our final project and research for the topic we are interested in. Furthermore, we are really looking forward to the courses of these two terms, like the assessment and pronunciation course, which would benefit us a lot for our final project and future teaching career.

 

November 25, 2018
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight – Jesus

Jesus with some of his students in Cusco, Peru

Jesus Napancca Herrera is a current LTS student from Peru, now in his 2nd of 5 terms in the LTS Master’s program. Here he tells us a little about his past, present, and future.

Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? Where have you traveled?

I am from Peru and lived in Cusco for many years. I was born in Lima, but since I was learning languages I thought I should move to Cusco, the city of the Incas and one of the largest tourist destinations in South America.

Tell us about your background in teaching and how you got the idea to start a language school.

I started teaching Spanish in 1997 and English in 1998. I was a private Spanish teacher for foreign visitors who were interested in taking intensive courses in Spanish. I was also teaching English to underprivileged kids from Cusco to contribute to my community. In 2000 I created a little cozy school for foreigners as well as for young Cusquenias who could not afford to pay for learning English. In April 2002 I opened Amigos Spanish School. In the same building we had foreigners learning Spanish and local young adults learning English. Both inspired each other and interacted on a daily basis.

The Amigos Language School that Jesus founded in Cusco, Peru

Another view of the Amigos Language School

What is your life like now here in Eugene? Is it very different?

My personal life hasn’t changed much. I am used to being busy every day and I even used to work on Sundays. The difference lies in the dynamic of my tasks. I used to be in charge of my work and have a group of staff working for me. Now I am working for the American English Institute at UO and I feel really fantastic! It is for me a great opportunity to grow as a person. I really appreciate my colleagues at work and my supervisors are amazing. While in Peru, I felt somehow lost and lonely because most of my compatriots thought I was busy for no reason, in a hurry and pathetically organized. Here in Eugene it is normal. So, I feel I am in my element now and don’t feel so lonely anymore. 🙂

You are teaching at the American English Institute as a GE (Graduate Employee teaching assistant) this term. What have you learned from this experience so far?

I have been learning many things, like how to work in a team. I have adjusted myself to following the new rules of this new job in a new country. My colleagues are supportive and always give me a hand at any time. There are great materials for teaching/learning English as well as new methods of teaching languages. Added to this, there is great infrastructure in the classrooms and at our offices. My supervisors and coordinator trust me in my skills as a teacher and allow me to adjust my class as I suggest. I feel privileged and for me, this experience is priceless.

What are some possibilities for your MA project at this point?

Day by day, the idea of my MA project is getting clearer in my mind. After all these months I have learned a lot in my classes in LTS and that helps me to have a better idea of what I would like to pursue in my MA project and my future career. I would like to specialize in LSP (Language for Specific Purposes) and for my future career I would like to work for companies that might need tutors or teachers for LSP.

What do you want to be sure to do during the rest of your year here? Do you have any specific goals or interests?

I would like to connect (which is already happening) the courses with my future career. I would also like to start my own consulting company to empower all kinds of schools that teaches languages.

July 13, 2018
by zachp
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MA Project Spotlights: Logan Matz and Ngan Vu

This summer term we are highlighting the final M.A. projects of the soon to be graduating LTS cohort members. This week we are pleased to feature Logan Matz and Ngan Vu.

Logan Matz (left) discussing his project idea with LTS faculty Robert Elliot.

Hi Logan! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is a teaching portfolio designed to improve pragmatic competence for international graduate students studying in the US. International students have to meet a certain language proficiency level, but there’s no corresponding assessment for pragmatics in widespread use yet. Grad students have more responsibilities than undergrads, and so they deserve a correspondingly larger amount of help with adjustment to US academic life.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I’ve always been interested in how people use language, and so pragmatics was a natural fit. Several friends of mine have had experiences where they felt less-than compared to native speakers of English in an academic setting, and I don’t think anyone should have to deal with language getting in the way of expression of knowledge. If I can help people show their smarts, and not feel limited by their language skills, then I’ll consider that a success.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

So far, I’ve been trying to put a really big focus on student-created examples for all of my activities. I think that with all the extra work and responsibilities that grad students have to do, on top of the challenge of doing graduate work in your second language, the barrier to entry for getting into the nitty gritty during my activities should be as low as possible. Additionally, the international students in this year’s LTS cohort that I’ve talked to all say that these sorts of activities would be really useful for them. If that’s not a ringing endorsement from the students who would actually benefit from a project like this, I don’t know what is!

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

Try not to die of heat stroke. I’m a frail little Washingtonian. I’d love to summit South Sister before I leave, also!

Ngan presenting her MA Project idea at the graduate student poster session.

Hi Ngan! What is your M.A. project about?

My project is a teaching portfolio focusing on using extensive reading as source texts to support writing fluency.

How did you become interested in this topic?

My interest comes from my personal experiences as an international student studying overseas. I struggled considerably in an English composition class when I first came to the United States and tried hard to figure out how to adapt to the writing conventions in another language. Therefore, I would like to find a way to make writing less intimidating for ESL/EFL learners and let them know that they all have the capability to be a good writer in their own way.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

The coolest/most interesting part… I don’t have a specific answer for this question. I just feel that I am currently working with many variables, experimenting with new concepts and trying to put those into a concrete portfolio. How my project looks like at the end is still a mystery for me at this moment but I hope it is beneficial.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

I would like to hike more and spend more time enjoying the beauty of Eugene with friends in the summer. Time flies.

June 30, 2018
by zachp
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MA Project Spotlights: Alexis Busso and Lee Huddleston

This summer term we are highlighting the final M.A. projects of the soon to be graduating LTS cohort members. This week we are pleased to feature Alexis Busso and Lee Huddleston.

Alexis presenting her initial course design at the LTS poster session.

Hi Alexis! What is your M.A. project about?

My M.A. project is a course design about employing metacognitive strategies in a writing course. The proposed course design is an intensive writing class where writing genres are supplemented by global issues topics. The focus of the project is for students to engage in academic writing while learning about different issues both on a local and international level.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I became interested in this topic for a variety of reasons. In the lesson planning class that we took in the Fall, I wrote a research paper about metacognitive strategies and that is when I was first introduced to the study of metacognition. Furthermore, my undergraduate study was in International Studies and this field has had a profound influence in my worldview. My M.A. project is a combination of my interests and passion.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

The most interesting part of my project is that I think it is the only project or one of the few which delves into other fields of study beyond education, foreign language learning, second language acquisition, etc. Moreover, although other students are focused on writing skill, mine is the only one that uses international topics as themes/subjects.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

Yes! Floating down the Willamette river is a must and endless hikes. I also have plans to go blueberry and strawberry picking and spending lots of time outdoors.

Lee presenting his initial project design at the LTS poster session

Hi Lee! What is your M.A. project about?

My M.A project is a teaching portfolio around the use of local legends as content in English language classrooms in a Micronesian high school context. This teaching portfolio will be designed so that the materials can be adopted or adapted to fit similar contexts. Using legends as content will provide students in isolated contexts with motivating materials that they can then connect to their own experiences, and use such texts to build their academic skills in areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The activities and lesson plans in the portfolio would focus on areas of  language, culture, and experiential learning to use the materials to their fullest.

How did you become interested in this topic?

As I previously mentioned in this blog, I served in the Peace Corps as an English teacher in Micronesia for over 2 years. During my time in Micronesia, I became very interested in the local legends and stories of the islands. I also observed the challenges in education that the islanders face, and I drew the conclusion that using local legends rather than American English Language Arts textbooks would be beneficial to students in terms of utilizing their interests and prior knowledge to help them engage with English at a higher and more creative level.

As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?

I would say that the most interesting part of my project is the fact that it provides a bridge for learners by connecting their culture with English; giving value to their culture rather than presenting English as an identity that they must adopt in order to be speakers of the language. In the Micronesian target context, dependence on the United States is an issue that cannot be ignored, and changing pedagogy to be more empowering to students is an important first step.

Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?

I want to take a more balanced approach to this term. Making room in my schedule to hike, exercise, and relax will all be essential as I finish this program. Maybe I’m a bit ambitious, but going to more music venues, and eating out at a few places I’ve been wanting to try are some other bucket list items. I am from Eugene, so my bucket list for my hometown is rather small at this point.

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