LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

June 18, 2020
by LTSblog
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LTS students think back on the remote term

Our remote Spring term is now over, a much-awaited break is here, and LTS students are free to … well, they are still free just to mostly stay at home!

LTS students are also teachers, even when they are not teaching. They are always thinking about their own (future or current) students as they consider what learning and teaching means to them. Some of the LTS students share their thoughts below on what they have learned from this remote learning term.

LTS students together on campus, following the motto ‘hang out but space out’

I’ve learned that language classes can be done online and there are so many ways to interact with students, even young students! However, I think face to face classes won’t be replaced by online classes. Students still need in-class time to learn languages and practice in an environment. In this term, the micro-teaching workshops gave me lots of ideas for teaching online and I’ve learned lots of strategies for class management. Although this term was hard, I learned some new things and adjusted to the new life.  —Lily

I learned that it’s very important to set boundaries especially during trying times. Early on in the quarter, I noticed myself working long hours for my GE and for school simply because there was no separation between my work and home. I think, especially as teachers, we are prone to overworking and to keep working even when we should be done. This term really demonstrated to me how that is not a sustainable option and that we as teachers and students need to take a break so, when we come back to our work, we can do our best. — Johanna

 Over the past 2.5 months working and studying from home, I have learned that creating spaces that have specific purposes is very important. In general when a grad student, it can be difficult to take breaks, especially if you have work and other life obligations as well, let alone adding a global pandemic to the equation. I see just how resilient we have all been in creating community online and being supportive of each other. There is a definite fatigue that goes along with getting all of your input online; however, I think that there are extraordinary opportunities with integrating it with traditional classroom learning. — Leigh

 Last term’s social-distance was not easy being a student and having a GE teaching position. On the other hand, it was a valuable experience to be in a virtual educational space. I tried to adjust and enjoy myself in the new technological teaching & learning environment because these new unexpected situations, combined with the somewhat expected trends, were inevitable. This new technologically-driven style was expected to happen eventually. However, the sudden happening of COVID-19 may have pushed towards us to a new lifestyle a little earlier than expected. — Cathy

I learned so many things!! As a GE for Japanese department, at first it was so hard to connect with students online without face to face connections. At the same time, I was able to explore many online teaching ideas and strategies! These experiences will definitely help me teach languages in the future. As for learning, it did not stop me from enjoying LTS courses. However, I missed my classmates and playing sports together (I hope we can gather sometime soon!)… — Yoshi

While I haven’t had to teach any classes during this transition to remote learning, I have been a student throughout it, and it has taught me many things about myself as a learner, and also about our educators, and the work they do for us.

Learning online, exclusively, has been very challenging, and it’s shocking how draining it can be, despite hardly moving. Balancing my screen time with other activities has been an important step for me to maintain my ability to function during all of this! Reaching out and benefitting from the cohort has also been one of the things that has kept me sane. Leaning on those relationships that we have built in the previous terms has been really helpful in dealing with the stress of the new learning environment, and the uncertainty of the near future.

Lastly, just from the (relatively) small amount of work that I have had to do through Zoom and other remote learning platforms, I can really see how hard our instructors must be working to continue to provide us with our education. We are all in this together, and I am really grateful for what all of the LTS faculty have been able to do to be there for us, and try to make the best of this situation. Between the cohort and the faculty, I have never once felt like I was completely lost or without someone to talk to.  — Dustin

The presence of COVID-19 was a major challenge as a graduate student. The constant health concerns for myself and my loved ones was overwhelming. I could not escape from those stresses. The necessary implementation of social distancing made this experience more taxing. However, there were goals and deadlines to be met for the term. These may have been what kept structure in my life, outside of online synchronous zoom classes, and ultimately aided me in this time. Yet the standard student stresses (e.g., academics, work, social inequality, etc.) were ever present. There was fatigue, much more than expected or planned for.

Zoom sessions became more therapeutic in a sense. Teaching and learning through zoom were a near daily highlight for me. My screen time grew exponentially, possibly greater than my “gamer junkie” years. The complete online system was not without some problems. There were occasional technical issues that would prevent learning for those unfortunate enough to have them happen. As a personal side, my eyesight has worsened. However, having practice teaching and learning in the complete online synchronous format allowed us to experiment with teaching strategies and materials (online and from in our own respective spaces). — Tommy

This pandemic has presented a new set of challenges for us all. Being a graduate student and GE is a challenge in itself. Not having to go to class freed up some time from not having to physically travel to the classroom, but it also caused a lot of mental fatigue from having to sit in the same spot most of the day and be on zoom calls. What helped me was scheduling physical activity into my daily routine as well as making sure to give myself a break when getting mentally burned out from school or work. — Connor

Teaching online during the COVID 19 crisis has been a totally new experience. It is challenging: in almost every session, we would meet a different issue. However, by solving these issues together with the students, we also generate interesting teaching and learning opportunities. Eventually, we were able to get used to the online model and get the most out of it. I didn’t expect the knowledge of teaching with technology that we learned in LTS would be applied so soon, but it is definitely a good thing to always be ready. I think online teaching is absolutely a viable way of teaching, if enough structure is put into it, we can benefit it even after COVID 19.  — Reagan

 

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 21, 2020
by krobin14
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LTS testimonial from recent graduate Tera. Thank you Tera!

 

LTS Alumni Tera in France

Dear Keli,

I wanted to share a brief anecdote about a job I just applied for. One
of their required questions stated: Explain how you would design and
facilitate a class session in an academic beginning- or
intermediate-level integrated reading and writing ESL class. Explain
what you hope to accomplish in this class session, what specific
activities will support the diverse student population, and how this
activity connects to a larger unit and to the course as a whole. (Please
limit your response to 750 words).

Thanks to all of the work we did in your curriculum class and in the MA
project, this question was very easy to answer. I only had to refer back
to one of my completed lesson plans and translate that into an essay
format.

I just wanted to express my gratitude for the great preparation I
received from LTS to tackle questions like this!

Best,
Tera

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 2, 2018
by leilat
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Impressions of an International Student at the UO and the LTS Program

Post by Leila Tamini-Lichai, 2018-19 cohort

This post will NOT give you the typical information that you can easily find online about the LTS program or the University of Oregon. For me, as a current international graduate student in the LTS program, what I have experienced in the last month has been very different from what I thought it would be like.

I remember the time before I joined the LTS program. I had read about the program. I had checked the social media, LTS blog, and the website. I had also seen pictures and videos of the campus online, but I admit none of them did full justice to how beautiful it truly is. When I visited the university campus for the first time I was wowed by how amazing it looked. I am very happy that I got the chance to be in this program and at the University of Oregon. Therefore, I want to share my experience with you, and I hope it will help you know this beautiful university and this unique program better.

Trees 

The first thing you will notice on the campus is the variety of trees and their beautiful colors in the fall season. There are lots and lots of trees such as: oak trees, hazelnut trees, walnut trees, and many trees I don’t know the names of.

           

Other than trees there are also a lot of friendly squirrels that live on the campus and sometimes peek into your classes. There is a friendly one living around Friendly Hall where the LTS classes are usually held and according to one of our professors, he is named Harry! The picture below was taken outside our class at Friendly Hall. I usually spend my class breaks sitting on those benches and enjoying the sun. These benches can be found all over the campus.

Knight Library

Another great thing about the University of Oregon is its library. It is a great library for nerds like me. There is a huge sitting area on the first floor where you have access to computers, printers, scanners, and reference books. There is also free internet access. There are literally millions of books available to read, and there are also plenty of sitting areas provided. In the basement there’s a café, so you don’t have to go without your caffeine. I personally like the UO library very much. In the picture you can see how big the building is. The library also has a website where you can find almost any book or article you are looking for.

 

Agate Hall

Agate Hall is home to the American English Institute (AEI) and where some of our classes are held. It is a beautiful building surrounded by beautiful trees. It truly is a hall for languages. When you go in, you see students from many different nationalities and can hear very different languages spoken. Sometimes I just go there, sit in one of the study areas provided for the students, and just enjoy the environment. If you are an international student and need to improve your English, AEI can help you.

Yamada Language Center

Fortunately, we have one of our classes at the Yamada Language Center (YLC) this term. In this center, languages other than English are taught. It is a very welcoming environment for students to learn other languages. The Center is located in Mckenzie Hall and has very high tech classes. The Yamada Language Center works with a number of language departments at the University of Oregon and also has classes for less commonly taught languages such as Russian, Arabic, Persian, and Swahili.

The Faculty

Last but not least, I would like to talk about the academic aspect of the LTS program and its faculty at the Department of Linguistics. While you are in the LTS program, you will benefit from the great LTS program curriculum. You will study about the theoretical aspects of language teaching and ways of putting them into practice. From the beginning, you will participate in teaching and will have many opportunities to observe language classes. Also, the LTS faculty are very knowledgeable, kind, patient, and open minded individuals. They have always answered my questions and have gone out of their way to help me with my problems. I personally am very proud and happy to be part of this wonderful academic community.

 

August 22, 2018
by zachp
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LTS 2018 commencement and words of wisdom

This past Saturday, August 18, 2018, 11 incredible individuals felt the accumulation of 15 months or 2 years of hard word, perseverance, and knowledge building. Smiles, laughter, and tears of joy were seen throughout the ceremony. The two overarching themes for the day were inspiration and community.

For inspiration, a quote from LTS director Dr. Keli Yerian’s commencement speech captures the beauty and complexity of language teaching: “Language learning is like a  4-dimensional puzzle that you live inside while you are solving it”. As the graduating students saw in their classes, helping students learn a language is not always a simple if>then formula; rather, each students is on their own journey with every new word, text, and social interaction. It is then teachers who help facilitate students’ understanding of these complex puzzles and help them feel empowered to want to continue to solve it.

For community, the graduating students will be dearly missed, but the good news is they are forever part of the LTS family. As LTS faculty member Laura Holland said in her speech to the graduating class, “Welcome to the family.” By this she means the LTS family but also the family of language educators and leaders.

Messages to the new cohort

With every new academic year the LTS family continues to grow. To help the new LTS student cohort as they begin their Fall term in Eugene, some LTS faculty and graduating students had the advice below to share. When Laura Holland welcomed the graduating class into the family, she also summed up everyones’ feelings about the incoming cohort, “Welcome to Eugene and to the LTS Program. We’re so happy you’re here!”

Self-care and study breaks

  • Make sure to find your own balance between working hard and self-care. This is a short program, so you can’t afford to procrastinate or dawdle, but you won’t make it through with your sanity intact without listening to your brain and body when they tell you they need a break. Balance is key! – Logan Matz
  • Build breaks into your day, sometimes taking an afternoon for a hike can be just what you need in the middle of a tough term. – Lee Huddleston
  • Don’t forget to get some exercise and take care of yourselves. Mount Pisgah is a wonderful place to walk and run- close to town, but you feel farther away. Try some of the trails other than the main walk to the summit – there is a longer trail that loops around the whole park, and a trail that goes along the river. Have a great beginning of the year! – Prof. Joana Jansen
  • Maintain a balance in your life! Of course we want you to focus on your studies and work hard, but Eugene is full of interesting and wonderful opportunities for just about any interest. Explore some of these. Find groups or activities that match your hobbies. Make friends and connections outside of just our program. You’ll have a more authentic experience in Eugene this way. – Prof. Andy Halvorsen
  • Take study breaks and get some fresh air. Every time I went for a hike, I noticed an immediate positive affect on my mental and physical health. In turn, it helped me be more effective when I returned to working. Plus, there are so many beautiful hikes around Eugene. – Zach Patrick-Riley

Challenge yourself and keep an open mind

  • Challenge yourself, take chances, this is the time to experience and learn. Apply for a GE position, take a challenging class that interests you, do that internship (I did all 3 one term, you can too).  This year will really be what you make of it, so make the most out of it. Tell Keli what you are looking for, she is an awesome resource! – Lee Huddleston
  • Wake up early!! – Kunie Kellem
  • Keep your minds open to new practices and ways of looking at language education and right from the start, begin a portfolio of teaching ideas and practices you can take with you, even if the varying practices seemingly contradict each other. This is excellent practice and will help you build your “teaching toolbox” with many ideas you can use in a variety of teaching contexts your path may take you on. – Prof. Laura Holland

Plan ahead

  • I’m sure everyone will tell you this, but start thinking about your project early, make sure it’s something your passionate about, something that you won’t get burnt out on. Bounce ideas off of everyone, teachers and cohort members. Start double dipping, designing things for your project in other classes. Every final project/ lesson plan that you write should ideally be toward your target context. – Lee Huddleston
  • Try to find a purpose or a goal for this MA program as soon as possible. The earlier you decide your research areas, the easier it will be in the last two terms.  – Logan Matz
  • To the incoming cohort, welcome to Eugene! You’ll be really busy in the program and there is a lot to learn. Think about how all this information is applicable to your goals, your teaching situation, and the students you will have. – Joana Jansen
  • The term system in UO is much more intensive than the semester system, especially for those who are used to the semester system. Therefore, to reduce the stress, maybe start planning midterms and finals earlier so you don’t have to finish everything at once at the end. Try to think about the topic for your final MA project as early as possible and relate the work you’re doing for the current courses to it. – Krystal Lyau
  • It is a good idea to not procrastinate things. Many things can come up as time goes, so do whatever you can when you have time.  – Kunie Kellem
  • My suggestion is to really stay in touch with what you personally want to get out of this program because one year will go by fast and before you know it you will be writing your final project. I would also suggest to read some other students’ final projects who have graduated. There are a few students who will be continuing their LTS program for a second year, so it could help to utilize their knowledge if needed (I am one of the students who will still be here). One last suggestion, I would read as much as possible and keep a list of all the readings you are doing. You can write notes about what each reading is for easy reference back to something that you may want to use in your final paper. Learn how to skim read because you may have some times when you just cannot read the entire reading in time, but also make sure that you know how to accurately site your resources. For me, one of my favorite things about grad school is research, research, and more research. Usually that means reading about other people’s actual research and I find that a lot of the work hinges on that, so get used to that right away. – Shayleen Eaglespeaker

Turn to each other as a resource

  • Every previous cohort that I have observed since 2009 benefited from turning to each other as a resource to help each other with academics, paired projects and camaraderie. In addition to forming study groups, they have taken trips and hikes together, had parties and gained strength from the group. This helps almost everyone thrive in the short but intense program, and not only makes for life-long memories, but gives you a group of dedicated people you can continue to turn to after finishing the program and move to your next phase. – Prof. Laura Holland
  • Really take the time to get to know your other cohort members. Make frequent efforts to study together, and most importantly, hang out together. They will be your greatest resource over the next year. Lee Huddleston
  • Ask for help. You have a group of faculty and support staff in your program that want to help you. If you are struggling with anything, talk to someone. One of the biggest mistakes people sometimes make in a new program is waiting too long to ask for help. Big questions or small, just ask it! – Prof. Andy Halvorsen
  • It is very helpful for some of the students to study together, since many of the classes will be with your cohort. – Shayleen Eaglespeaker
  • Don’t hesitate to talk to your cohort or the faculty of the program if you are having some difficulties. They are all willing to help. – Krystal Lyau
  • Go out with your friends or cohort every once in a while. Grabbing a coffee, drink or even sweets and talking with them can make you feel better. – Kunie Kellem

The final piece of advice comes from 2017-2019 LTS student Shayleen Eaglespeaker who says it is important to stay true to yourself and who you are. “Don’t be afraid to be different. Each person is coming from a different background and has a point of view that can offer a lot to your peers, so my advice would be to embrace that!”. Her words apply to the entire family, as this individuality and mix of backgrounds is what makes the LTS program so special. Congratulations again to those who graduated and best of luck to those who are just getting started. May you forever continue learning, challenging yourself, supporting your colleagues, and following your dreams.

Pure elation from the 2018 LTS graduating class and LTS faculty members.

 

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.

May 20, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Sean Brennan

It is my pleasure to introduce 2016-18 LTS student Sean Brennan. Sean is one of the many students who have pursued concurrent MA degrees in LTS and East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL)

Hi Sean! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.

Sean at one of his art gallery shows.

I’m a Kentucky native, but my interest in Chinese carried me away from there to spend a good chunk of my twenties studying in China, and eventually here in Oregon. I remember when I was a kid, I was fascinated by the idea that different people had different ways of speaking and writing, and longed to study foreign language. In high school, I was finally able to study my first foreign language which happened to be German. I enjoyed studying German, but it was only once I was able to study Chinese as an undergraduate that I truly fell in love with another language, and I’ve never looked back. Outside of school, art and in particular, painting, has been one of my life-long passions and I’ve been fortunate to have a couple gallery shows since I moved to Eugene.

You are quite the jack of all trades! So how did you end up in the LTS program?

I believe I first heard about it from the instructor for my Chinese linguistics course here at UO.

What has been your focus in the program?

In participating in this program, my aim has been to gain the tools and knowledge to effectively utilize my experiences learning Chinese as a second language to inform my teaching of the language. I believe my project represents a culmination of this effort, as it addresses a specific need of Chinese learners that’s not accounted for in current curriculum—bridging the gap between English reading and Chinese reading—which I recognized as a problem from my own experiences.

Sounds like a great project! And you mentioned you are a GE (graduate employee) for Japanese literature, how’s that experience been?

It’s been going great. While I’m normally a GE for the Chinese department, teaching in the Japanese department is always a refreshing change of pace, and through the works we read, I get to see the cultural and linguistic exchanges between the two countries throughout history.

Sean presenting at the LTS poster session.

Are you excited to start working on your MA project?

Yes, I really feel good about my project. I’ve received some really positive feedback from Chinese department faculty about the idea, and I think it’s possible it may lead to some serious consideration for adding a Chinese extensive reading course to the curriculum.

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Best of luck in the completion of the program!

May 3, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Kunie Kellem

It is pleasure to introduce you to LTS student Kunie Kellem!

Kunei presenting at the LTS poster session.

Hi Kunie! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.

Hi. I’m Kunie! I’m from Osaka, Japan. I like running, working out, playing and watching basketball, and eating delicious food!! I came to Eugene with my husband and son in August 2016. Before I came to Eugene, I taught English at Japanese high schools for 14 years. I loved my job, students, and my coworkers, but I was always struggling with this dilemma between ideals and reality of English classes in Japan. I wanted to change something. I wanted to see my students communicate in English confidently. I wanted to have confidence in my skills and knowledge to support students to realize their goals. That is why I decided to study in the LTS program!!

Kunie with her son and Puddles the Duck.

Well, we sure are glad you made that decision! So how has the LTS experience been for you?

It was a big decision for me to come to U of O to study since I had to leave my work, and my family had to change their life styles dramatically. What I was most worried about was my son; if he could adjust to the life in U.S., if he could get new friends, and if he could improve his English to keep up with his school work. I was not so worried about myself at the start point of my new journey. However, it turned out the first 3 months here were the hardest time in my life. Since it had been for such a long time after I graduated from university, everything was new and different. I was surrounded by young, enthusiastic students who were always actively involved in discussion in class, whereas I, who was not used to discussion style lectures, was always at a loss about what to do. Being an international student made things more difficult.

Kunie with her son at the Grand Canyon.

I still remember for the first few weeks I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning to work on my reading, take notes, review the lecture notes, and prepare for the classes. In addition, as I had expected, my son also had a hard time at his new school because of the cultural and language issues, which made me feel terrible and responsible for taking him all the way here with me. I literally cried a lot for the first few months. However, things started to get better after 3 months. My son started to enjoy his school life and made many friends. (At first, he could not read English, but now he is in the advanced spellers group!!) My husband finally got a job here. I gradually got used to student life here. After that “dark time” passed, I started to enjoy my life here more. I started to hang out with my friends more, go hiking more, go to watch Duck’s games more, which made me realize that Eugene is such a beautiful place surrounded by great nature and great people. I don’t think I could have gone through this far without support from my family, friends and professors at U of O and I am so grateful about it!!

Kunie with LTS friends Aska (2017) and Krystal (2018).

Kunie in her UO duck gear.

Glad to hear you and your family made it through that transition period and grew from it! What are some key things you’ve learned in your time here?

Of course, I have been learning very important principles and pedagogy of language learning and teaching, but at the same time I really appreciate that I get the perspective of how it is like being a student and learning new things again; what students think, what they struggle with, and how they deal with learning. I almost forgot those perspectives, and I am sure this experience will help me to become a better teacher when I go back to my work. Also, I have learned from my professors how to create the comfortable atmosphere to learn, how to support students, and how to assess students’ learning based on objective-based assessment, which is very motivating. I would like to incorporate what I learned here into my teaching!!

And I know you have been teaching Japanese, how has that experience been?

Kunie at a beach in Newport, Oregon.

Yes. I have been working as a Japanese GE at U of O for 6 terms. I really enjoy teaching Japanese and I like when the students show me “aha! moment” expressions when they understand and use the structures well in a communicative practice. One time, at the REC center I bumped into a student whom I taught before, and he gave me a high five and talked to me in Japanese. I felt extremely happy!! I think this is one of the (rare) rewarding moments for language teachers. Teaching Japanese has also given me a great insight about language teaching. Although Japanese and English are two different languages, I am learning a lot about teaching techniques, curriculum designs, assessments, and classroom managements from Japanese instructors and actual lessons. Now I can see Japanese language and its culture from a different perspective, which I am sure will be a great asset of mine when I go back to Japan. I appreciate that I was given this opportunity to teach Japanese here.

Are you excited to have started working on your M.A. project?

Yes! Actually, I have been worried about it for a long time, but once I started writing literature review for MA project, I really enjoy it. Since I am on the two-year program, I could spend more time thinking about my project than many of my cohorts who are on the 15-month program. On my first year, I spent most of my time, energy and effort on just doing well in a class. However, after one year passed, many things I learned from each class started to make sense, and they started to be connected with each other.

Kunie with her son biking around the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now I feel like I am working on puzzles; a small puzzle for literature review and a big puzzle for MA project.  I will keep reading and learning from professors and cohorts to find the best pieces for my puzzle. I am really looking forward to seeing what kind of picture my puzzle will turn out to be.

What a nice connection between the final project and puzzles! Any final thoughts?

I know most of my LTS cohorts live busy stressful days with a lot of school work. I also feel the same way. Although it is very important to be organized and work hard on our project, sometimes it is also important to release our stress by doing/eating what we like.  We are now 4 months away from the end of our journey. I am sure it is going to be busy and hard 4 months, but we are on this together. I hope each of us can see our own beautiful picture on the puzzle at the end of this journey!!

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview and best of luck in your completion of the program!

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