LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

April 20, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Zach Patrick-Riley

It is my pleasure to introduce you to 2017-18 LTS student Zach Patrick-Riley.

Zach enjoying the Alaskan summer.

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

Hi! Oi! Hola! My name is Zach Patrick-Riley and I am originally from Anchorage, Alaska. I did my undergrad at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!) and while there I discovered the joy of traveling when I studied abroad in London, England. Since that first time abroad, 2008, I have been to 38 countries around the world. People often ask what my favorite place is and it’s an impossible question… with that being said, Brazil is like a second home to me.

Zach representing the Pernambuco, Brazil state flag.

Zach enjoying a waterfall up close at Foz de Iguazu, Brazil.

Halfway through my senior year of college, I was still deciding what to do after graduation. Fortuitously, I attended a weekend workshop that my university put on about diversity on campus. The first night I was quite tired, but I saw a group of students sitting by a fire. I decided it was as good a time as any to branch out and meet some new people. Thankfully I did because I soon started talking to a student from Northeast Brazil, Gustavo. We got along right away and he asked me what my plans were for after graduation. Long story short, he put me in touch with the owner of a school in Brazil, Junior, who invited me to come teach there after graduation. At the time, I didn’t really know anything about Brazil but it seemed like quite the adventure (I didn’t even speak any Portuguese!).

Zach with a couple Brazilian students and Pikachu.

Zach with a group of teachers/friends he trained in Brazil.

I was quite nervous before the first class and wasn’t sure if I would even enjoy teaching. That all changed the minute class started. Do you know those moments in life where something just feels right? Well that’s how I felt about teaching. On that very first day, the energy in the classroom spoke to me on such a deep level and it has continued to do so ever since.

After spending six months teaching in Brazil, I returned to Alaska and from 2010-2014 I did a combination of substitute teaching and working in the art department on various commercials and movies (e.g. Big Miracle). I loved the flexibility that the jobs provided as I could work hard for a bit and then go travel to different parts of the world. In 2014, I decided to commit even more to language teaching and got my CELTA (a TESOL teaching certificate) before returning to Brazil to teach/do teacher training for 2015-2016. My second time over there just reaffirmed my love for language teaching and Brazil.

Zach at a farewell party with his fellow teacher friends in Caruaru, Brazil.

Quite the story! Was your journey to LTS as serendipitous?

Zach hiking with LTS friends Alexis and Lee.

It’s quite the story as well, but to sum it up: After returning from 2.5 years working and traveling in South America, I went to the 2017 International TESOL conference in Seattle. During the conference it became apparent that in order to get the kind of premium jobs I wanted, a Master’s degree was essential. Right after that realization, I attended a workshop and met a graduate student in the LTS program, Devon Hughes.

She spoke highly of the program and mentioned that the director of the program, Dr. Keli Yerian, was actually downstairs. I didn’t want to impose, but am glad I got past that because talking with Keli and other LTS faculty and students who were there inspired me to apply. I got my application ready as soon as the conference ended and now here I am one year later.

So how has the LTS experience been for you?

The experience has been life-changing to say the least, both personally and professionally. Succeeding academically in this program has meant the world to me on a personal level and really built up a lot of academic confidence that before was lacking. Everything we learn in the program directly benefits our future teaching endeavors. It is very hands-on so you get to mould your learning to suit your individual interests.

Zach doing a workshop on VR/AR and language learning which fellow LTS friend Logan Matz seems to be enjoying.

For me, what really makes LTS special is the community with the cohort and the professors. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging, while also making sure we each achieve our maximum potential. The professors treat us with kindness and respect, valuing and encouraging our contributions in the classroom. The professors always take the time to talk to students after class. I am forever grateful for the guidance I have received from my fellow cohort members and professors, as well as the smiles and laughter.

I know you work as a GE (graduate employee) at CASLS. What has that been like?

I know it sounds cliché, but CASLS has been life-changing as well. Just like the LTS community, what really makes CASLS so special is the energy. Every day I am inspired by the collaborative and innovative values to which CASLS subscribes. I have the supreme pleasure of working with LTS faculty member Dr. Julie Sykes, who has shifted the way I see communication due to pragmatics, and Stephanie Knight, who has greatly enhanced my efficacy with curriculum design and article writing. The superlatives continue as the rest of the people at the CASLS office are equally amazing and brighten my every day, even in the most stressful of times.

Zach with CASLS colleagues enjoying Halloween.

In terms of projects, there have been quite a few I’ve worked on. The biggest one is LingroToGo, a new Spanish language learning mobile application that promotes authentic language use, and dynamic game-based language learning. For this app, I have created a number of the animated videos, some video scripts, and done quality assurance testing. It is fantastic to be even a small part of a resource that, in my opinion, exemplifies the direction quality language teaching is heading.

Another project is writing articles for the online language learning newsletter Intercom, which offers cutting-edge research and ready-made classroom activities. This experience has allowed me to author publications that reach thousands of national and international educators.

During Winter term, I also worked with a group of visiting Japanese students from Nagoya, University, and as always, it reaffirmed just how wonderful it is to be in the classroom. I love that I get to be an integral part in the planning and implementation of all kinds of cool programs.

Zach doing a workshop on pragmatics with students from Nagoya University.

It sounds like it! Last question, are you excited to have started working on your final MA project?

I am indeed. It is a little daunting as time is flying by and we will be presenting before we know it… but when you love what you are studying/working on, it makes it fun and exciting.  My project involves pragmatics, pronunciation, and individualized learner instruction.

Any final thoughts?

Sim (yes in Brazilian Portuguese). The world responds when you take chances and put yourself out there. I was nervous before I talked to Gustavo at that workshop, or when I talked to Devon and subsequently Keli at the TESOL conference, and I was even nervous about applying to grad school and CASLS. As you read, they all ended up being positive life changing experiences and make me fill-up with emotion just thinking about them. Often the most rewarding experiences are intimidating at first, but just believe in yourself and you will end up in the most wonderful of places, like the LTS program.

Zach at the summit of Rainbow Mountain in Peru.

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

April 6, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Krystal Lyau (2017-18)

It is my pleasure to spotlight current LTS student Krystal Lyau (2017-18).

Krystal on the California Coast.

Hi Krystal! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself:

I’m from Taiwan. This is my second year in the LTS program. I love fantasy. I can do nothing but finish a fantasy novel or a whole season of fantasy TV series in a day. I think that studying abroad is a fantastic and surreal experience too. We are so far from the world we are familiar with, and every day is such an adventure. It is like being granted another kind of life. For the first six months here, I always had this feeling that I was not sure which life was real, the one that I had left behind or the one I was experiencing at the moment. It is definitely a really scary but also exciting journey, like all the novels I have read.

You’ve been in the program for a year and a half right…How has your experience been? Any particular highlights? What are some key things you’ve learned in your time here?

I’m really grateful that I decided to be in this program. As an international student, the first half year here was the hardest. Not only did we have to keep up with the schoolwork like everyone else did, we also struggled a lot with the language, getting used to the academic environment here and overcoming other culture shock in general. However, the LTS program really made all these things much easier for us. The faculty and cohort have always been really supportive, sympathetic, and tolerant. I think the most important thing I have learned is to be critical but also open-minded about everything. Being in an environment with such a diverse culture and varied perspectives really broadens my horizons. It gives me an opportunity to think differently, and be more creative and liberal.

And I know you were involved with the Chinese Club last term. What was that like?

Krystal in front of Edison elementary school.

It was a brand new experience for me since I have only dealt with high school students before. How to interact with students, to manage the class, to design a lesson is totally different from what I was used to. Last term was especially more challenging than ever, with such a diverse level class, including native speakers, heritage speakers, and novice L2 learners. Classroom management was quite demanding as well because of some students’ lack of learning motivation. Despite all the difficulties, I’m glad that we tried some new things to cope with the problems, like separating the heritage speakers and L2 learners, differentiating the materials, and developing some classroom management routines. It was really rewarding to see that we had finally made some progress.

Krystal teaching students Chinese at Edison elementary school.

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

Yes, it is definitely both exciting and dreadful. I can’t believe I have made it so far and things are getting real now. For my project, I really want to develop something that incorporates what I have learned and experienced as a learner and language teacher in this program.  I hope it will be practical and creative. This is like the last chapter of my journey. It is undoubtedly going to be the most challenging part of the story, but I believe it will be worth reading.

Krystal presenting her writing course for LT 548 Curriculum and Materials Development.

Any final thoughts?

I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to be here, thanks to all the support from my family, the faculty and cohort in this program, and my friends. I couldn’t make it by myself. The finish line is in sight. Good luck to all of us.

Krystal enjoying a moment of relaxation.

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Hope you have a great spring term and finale to the program.

March 11, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Yuxin Cheng (2017-2018)

It is my pleasure to introduce you to 2017-18 LTS MA student Yuxin Cheng!

Hi Yuxin! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself:

Yuxin at a cool shop in Monterey, California

Hi everyone, this is Yuxin. I like traveling and all kinds of cute stuff. My undergraduate major was in Accounting, and then I was suddenly aware that I wanted to be a teacher due to my volunteer experience in a Chinese immersion elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Have you been enjoying the LTS program?

Yuxin (center) with LTS friends Ngan and Yumiko (and Gary from Yamada Language Center)

Yes! I like the courses I am taking and the internship I am doing. Although sometimes I feel a little bit “sad” since I hardly have any time to have fun with my friends, and only have classes, group meetings, readings and papers around my MA project. But I guess this is how my life is supposed to be as a graduate school student. My cohort is really nice; everyone is willing to share and help.

I really like the learning environment in all the courses, and the positive energy shared among our cohort. I appreciate that I have the chance to be involved in our LTS family (people get together after classes to do things, which is really nice and warm). We are more than a cohort in the same program: we are also good friends in each other’s life. Our program’s faculty are all very kind and helpful as well, and they have been working really hard to offer us professional advice and provide help.

Yuxin (center) at an Oregon Ducks football game with neighbor Kohei and LTS friends Zach, Reeya, and Alina

What are you hoping to learn/gain from the program?

I am hoping to become a professional language teacher. I started from zero in the language teaching field, but I found my passion in our program. I knew teaching would be my future career. At the same time, I am hoping to have more chances to practice teaching in order to gain more experience.

And I know you are involved with the Chinese Club. How has that experience been going?

It has been a great experience for me, and a challenge as well. Students in the Chinese Club are combination of native and non-native speakers, so we have increased our attention on making a balance in teaching in order to have all the students to learn.

Yuxin teaching Chinese Club students at Edison Elementary School

Yuxin practicing Origami with Chinese Club students

We decided to separate the native and non-native speakers in our classroom, and classroom management is a big consideration that we face every week since the energy level of our class is really high. But I like to challenge myself and I believe that I can successfully deal with these 9 year olds.

Any final thoughts?

Yuxin (left) with LTS  friend Ngan on the Oregon coast.

 

For me, I think our 15-month program is really intensive. I can’t believe that I am almost done! But this intensive program also provides me an opportunity to prove that I can actually accomplish many things in a short time period! PS: Eugene’s summer is wonderful! Please go to the Oregon coast!

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Hope you have a great end to the term.

Yuxin (right) on Spencer Butte hike with LTS friends Alexis, Rebekah, Lee, Logan, and Ngan

 

February 24, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Logan Matz (2017-2018)

It is my pleasure to introduce you to 2017-2018 LTS MA student Logan Matz!

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

Logan and Polly

Oh gosh. My love for language really started growing up around a bunch of different, really robust immigrant communities. So everywhere I went, I heard more than just English being spoken, and I thought that was pretty neat! I got my undergraduate degree in linguistics from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, so the move to Oregon wasn’t really too far. I’m a quarter Hungarian (sziasztok!) and the bulk of my extra-continental travel has been to Denmark. I also really enjoy anything related to bikes and dogs. Cooking and hiking are up there as well, although cleaning up afterward is something I struggle with…

Have you been enjoying the LTS program so far?

Logan on his bike

I’ve been enjoying it a lot! It’s great having such a small cohort because it really allows you to work closely with your fellow students and get a lot out of professors because of the small class sizes. I also really like the balance between scaffolded assistance from faculty and dedicated “struggle time”; I think it fosters a sense of independence that’s important to have as a teacher combined with the knowledge that although I can work well on my own, I don’t have to, and there are TONS of resources, people and otherwise, at my disposal to help me learn and create the best project I can.

What are you hoping to learn/gain from the program?

In undergrad, I knew I really wanted to teach. But I also knew that I would need to learn how to teach first. I applied for the program knowing that I didn’t have any language teaching experience, and I’m so pleased to have taken the practicum class with Laura Holland– what a fun formative entry into the world of teaching! I’m really looking forward to developing pragmatics-related curricula, although I still have a lot to learn.

And I know you have two internships this term–Harrisburg and CASLS. How have those been going?

Logan teaching Adult Basic Skills in Harrisburg through Linn-Benton Community College

Harrisburg is great. I’m volunteering with Amy Griffin (LTS alum!), who’s teaching an Adult Basic Skills Community English Language Acquisition course through Linn-Benton Community College, and although I helped out once a week last quarter, I made it official this quarter and I’m teaching twice a week now. The class size and proficiency distribution means that there’s a beginner group and an intermediate group, and I’m very grateful to Amy for letting me swap between groups during the week. I work with the beginners on Tuesdays, and then Thursdays work with the intermediate group. Of course, I couldn’t do it without Amy, who’s putting in twice the work by writing both her own lesson plan and a lesson plan for me to follow. All I have to do is drive north, show up, and teach!

Logan monitoring Adult Basic Skills students

It’s a fantastic experience, and I couldn’t ask for a better on-the-ground teaching practice opportunity. The students are all great fun to work with, and I’m continuously impressed with how much effort they put into a two-hour class, at the end of a long workday, with families waiting at home. Amy’s lesson plans are always great, and I’m allowed to put my own spin on them when I see the chance to. I need to mock up a class schedule for Spring, but I’d love to go back and help again next quarter!

My internship at CASLS has been super rewarding. It’s great working with such a cool team, and of course it’s awesome to have my own desk! I was worried when I first started, knowing that Julie has a very hands-off managerial approach; but it’s been plenty easy to check in with her when necessary, and the rest of the team is super accessible for any questions or help I might need. My first project was working on a set of lessons for Games2Teach for the game Papers, Please, which is a super fun puzzle game that just so happens to naturally brim with pragmatic goodies. I’m all done with the rough drafts, and I’m just awaiting some feedback now. While that finishes up, I’m starting to work on cleaning up another existing CASLS project, called the Place- and Experience-Based Database for Language Learning (PEBLL). Basically, it just needs a little TLC to make sure current entries are up-to-date before more are added. I also get to attend the weekly curriculum meetings, which have been super fun and useful for developing my curriculum designer’s intuition. It’s also so inspiring to hear everyone throwing ideas around!

Any final thoughts?

Mmm…nope!

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Hope you have a great last few weeks of Winter term!

February 11, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Rebekah Wang (2017-2018)

It is my pleasure to introduce you to LTS Student Shulei Wang (2017-18):

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

Hello everyone! I’m from Taiyuan, Shanxi, China. If I were to pick an animal to represent my personality, it would be a kitten. If I were to pick an object to represent my personality, it would be a rose.

Nice choices! Have you been enjoying the LTS program so far?

Yes! I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was little. How I narrowed down that I want to teach language(s) is because language acquisition is a part of my daily life. I’m not a native English speaker, and I learn and practice English every day. Language acquisition is a fun and surprising process.

It really is! What are you hoping to learn/gain from the program?

I want to learn how to teach. Being a teacher seems easy…I mean, everyone has been to schools and knows how a teacher’s’ job looks like, but it’s a lot more than that. A big part of teacher’s job is not seen by students. Classroom management is also very challenging too…When I was in school, I was a naughty kid and I really liked those class clowns. Haha.

Rebekah Wang teaching her Chinese Club students

And I know you are involved with the Chinese Club at Edison Elementary School–how has that experience been going?

It’s been challenging but is helping me learn a lot! Proficiency levels are very different. Some students are just beginning to learn Chinese, and some students just came to the states recently from China and have been studying in Chinese schools for several years. We only meet once a week, and it’s on Friday afternoon. This term, students’ motivation can be low, so I need to think of creative ways to inspire them- thankfully I am learning ways to do this in the LTS program.

You do the Chinese Language Circle too right?

Yes. Currently all participants can’t converse yet. We covered numbers, basic greetings, seasons, and a portion of pinyin. Please join us on Mondays at Mills International Center from 4 to 5 to learn some basic Chinese. Everyone is welcome to join. No background needed.

Rebekah Wang (right) with LTS classmate Ngan Vu (left)

Any final thoughts?

Eugene is a nice place to live. There is usually no traffic jams which is so nice as opposed to big cities. It’s small enough that I can get anywhere in 20 minutes, but it’s also big enough that it has almost everything, so it is a great size. I’m going on my sixth year here living in Eugene, and am still enjoying it.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview! I’ll have to come practice my Chinese sometime!

February 4, 2018
by Trish Pashby
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Devon Hughes’s Fulbright Practicum in Taiwan

Recent LTS graduate Devon Hughes (Fall 2017) spent her final term in the program as the first Fulbright Taiwan FSE Teacher Practicum Program Grantee (based out of Changhua County). We were delighted to find out more about her exciting adventure.

Devon Hughes hiking in the Central Mountains

What were your main activities and responsibilities?

As I was piloting this internship for both LTS and Fulbright Taiwan, I got to determine my own schedule and duties, with the guidance of a local English resource coordinator. I set three primary learning goals from which came my activities and responsibilities.

First, I sought to gain experience teaching in junior high EFL classrooms while encouraging and developing EFL students’ learning motivation and ability. I did this by teaching weekly at three junior high schools in Changhua County. I also observed and presented at various schools around the county.

Devon with student in Changhua County

Second, I wanted to broaden my perspective – as well as that of the local teachers and students – on international issues while gaining insight into the Taiwanese EFL education system at all levels. I worked toward this goal in various ways. I traveled around Changhua County to observe and chat with both Taiwanese and native English-speaking teachers about their classroom experiences, techniques, and views on local and federal education policies. I was an observer and occasional guest lecturer in two undergraduate TESOL courses at the National Changhua University of Education. I also participated in English military service officer meetings at the Changhua International Education and English Teaching Resource Center (CIEETRC) so to learn how military officers with advanced English proficiency and experience living in English-speaking countries support their schools’ English language learning goals. I even attended an international conference with the CIEETRC director on international education for primary and secondary schools.

My third learning goal was to assist in developing English teaching resources and materials and to share English teaching strategies with Changhua County English teachers. I did so by working weekly at CIEETRC on materials development, delivering professional development workshops, and meeting with elementary and junior high school teachers and principals. Together, we worked to increase critical thinking and English use in Changhua County classrooms.

What were some of the highlights of the experience?

Devon with other Fulbright grantees at beach cleaning event

How much time do you have? Haha!

An initial highlight was meeting the other Fulbright grantees at orientation and hearing about their fascinating work. They had come to Taiwan for a variety of reasons and represented a wide range of academic backgrounds. I had the chance to get to know some of these Fulbrighters better at subsequent events like Double Ten Day, Thanksgiving, and a beach cleaning service trip.  Each time, I thought, “Whoa. What cool people!”

Speaking of cool people, I got to see some familiar faces while abroad. The night I arrived in Taiwan, I had the great fortune of crossing paths with friend and former AEI colleague Rachel Drummond. She introduced me to another former UO duck, Lydia Shen, and we went out for massages and food at a local night market. Words can’t describe how incredible it was to arrive in a foreign place and immediately connect with a dear friend. A few weeks later, a former AEI student from Taiwan visited me and took me out for lunch and groceries. Such meetings with friends throughout my stay made “halfway around the world” feel like a much smaller distance.

Devon at President Tsai Ing-wen’s Double Ten party

Perhaps the biggest highlight was Double Ten weekend when I got to host my husband, who flew 24 hours each way to spend 96 hours with me. It was wonderful to show him around and to experience Taiwan with him, if only for a few days! I also had the incredible opportunity to attend President Tsai Ing-wen’s Double Ten party along with other Fulbrighters and dignitaries from around the world. I felt like I was in a comedy as I wobbled in my 5-inch heels on the red carpet and told people drinking cocktails, “Oh, I’m here teaching junior high English.”

There were many elements of Taiwanese culture itself that were highlights – the warm and sunny weather, the food (e.g. bubble tea, xiaolongbao, beef noodle soup, fresh tropical fruit), the night markets, and, most especially, the hospitality of the people. Oh, and the scooters! Every time I hitched a ride on the back of a friend’s scooter, I was overcome with awe. As we zipped through crowded streets or up mountain switchbacks, I could only think, “Wow. I am in Taiwan.”

Devon (right) snorkeling in Penghu

Speaking of travel, many highlights were my weekend trips around the island. Solo trips were made easier by Taiwan’s wonderfully efficient public transportation system. I got to explore big cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung, as well as natural sites like Taroko National Park, the central mountains, Penghu (an island archipelago off the west coast) and the southern beaches. One fond memory was snorkeling with a small group of Taiwanese tourists and feeling the language barrier fade away as we squealed and pointed out clown fish and coral.

Okay, one final highlight: I was staying in one night, scrolling through my LINE (social media) contact list when I suddenly realized that around 95% of my contacts were newfound Taiwanese friends. This may sound unremarkable, but to me it was wonderful because I had lived abroad before and had found that ex-pats tended to gravitate toward each other and make insular friend groups. I went to Taiwan hoping for a different experience. A more immersive experience. So, when looking at that contact list of colleagues, university students, and random friends, I felt a wave of gratitude. I had travelled alone to somewhere new, where I didn’t speak the native language, and had managed to make friends! I believe this is largely in part to how generous and warm the Taiwanese people are.

Devon (right) with her Changhua University of Education (NCUE) friends at temple of the Great Buddha statue (大佛寺) in Changhua City

Did you face anything especially surprising or challenging?

Yes, both. Some major challenges in the classroom were a) teaching junior high school students beginner-level English while keeping it interesting and relevant b) working with some students only once due to a quantity over quality approach and c) what my colleagues and I perceived as an overreliance on the L1 (by both teachers and students). I had many conversations with fellow teachers, professors, and the CIEETRC staff about how to best tackle these issues.

My biggest challenge, however, was not in the classroom. Halfway through my stay in Taiwan, I was involved in a head-on car collision during a trip in the mountains with a colleague. Thankfully, neither of us were injured, and I had friends and strangers help me back home to Changhua. Being involved in an accident so far away from loved ones was scary enough, but another, more traumatic car accident years ago made this situation even tougher to process. I found myself faced with the question, “Am I going to make a ____ decision out of fear?” Was I going to cut my internship short and return home? Would I avoid taking car and scooter rides? Would I keep traveling solo? I am so glad I had a support network both at home and in Taiwan to help and encourage me through that time.

Prof Frank (NCUE English dept.), Devon, and Frede (CIEETRC director) beside NCUE in Changhua

As for surprises, I was taken aback by the instant warmth and generosity of the people I met. I received so many thoughtful gifts and invitations. I can never pay them back for their kindness!

Another surprise was the peace that comes from feeling safe (almost) all the time. It’s wonderful. Taiwan is one of the safest places in the world. Experiencing that… travelling without fear (though always with a proper level of precaution), walking down streets without comment, getting lost with little worry… was a breath of fresh air.

A final, funny surprise was how Taiwanese food often reminded me of food from home (North Carolina). Taiwanese mom and pop restaurants serve what Americans call “sweet tea” at most

Devon trying “stinky tofu” at the Changhua Night Market

meals, collard greens cooked in pork fat, and beef stew that rivaled my grandmother’s. It was wild to try a “new” food only to discover that it tastes like home.

How has this experience contributed to your strengths as a language teacher?

My time in Taiwan helped me become more of a self-starter and willing to take risks, both in and out of the classroom. Since it was such an intense experience, I had to be flexible in new, high-stress situations, while remaining mindful of the needs of my students, co-teachers, and stakeholders. It made me a more well-rounded teacher as it provided me the opportunity to work for the first time with junior high students and beginner proficiency levels. I also honed my class observation and teamwork skills through multiple classroom visits and later discussions with colleagues. I also led several professional development workshops, which forced me to stay current and mindful of my own teaching practices. Finally, this experience abroad fostered in me a greater empathy for language learners. Living halfway around the world in a foreign language environment is a very humbling experience!

Devon (front center) with 9th grade students

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about this experience?

If you get the chance, visit Taiwan! You won’t regret it. Especially if you’re a tea drinker. The best oolong! 

What advice would you give an LTS student who is planning to do this internship in the future?

If it makes time and money sense, go for it! Be flexible and ready to say “yes” to any opportunity. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it (if not more). Yet, also remember to check-in daily with yourself and take care of yourself!

January 28, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Ngan Vu (2017-18)

It is my pleasure to introduce you to 2017-2018 LTS MA student Ngan Vu!

Ngan in Da Nang City, Vietnam

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

Hi everyone! I am from Ho Chi Minh City (or previously called Saigon), Vietnam. I enjoy jogging since it helps me connect more with nature and balance my inner self.

And have you been enjoying the program so far?

With no doubt, yes! I am enjoying the program and happy with what I am doing and the people whom I am with. Being in the program is not just about learning (yes, we undoubtedly must) but also forming a community in which memories (and sometimes anxiety) are shared. All the professors in the LTS program, everyone at the Yamada Language Center, and my cohort members have given me more knowledge and opportunities for valuable experiences than I could ever ask for.

And I know you’ve been tutoring at the Yamada Language Center. What has that experience been like?

Ngan with Yamada SSLP coordinator Harinder Khalsa and FLTA’s Som-Oh Sripakdee and Amna Hasan

No words can fully describe this invaluable experience. In the Self Study Language Program (SSLP), learners are highly motivated and the tutor-learner relationship is very close. Plus, tutoring at Yamada helps me experiment with new technological tools and put into practice knowledge acquired in LTS classes. I have been receiving immense emotional and professional support from everyone, especially Jeff, Harinder, my mentor chị Tâm, and Gary. Also, I have learned considerably from my students who are dedicated, motivated and very patient with me, and my FLTA friends. Their positive energy always inspires me.

Sounds like a truly exceptional experience! What are you hoping to gain from the LTS program?  

Ngan with her students learning Vietnamese in Yamada’s Self Study Language Program.

Coming in the program with little background, I hope to learn as much as I can in terms of theoretical foundation of second language pedagogy and how to effectively apply the knowledge in and even beyond language classrooms. Also, my wish is to figure out how to make language learning more accessible and less intimidating for learners.

Any final thoughts?

I am deeply grateful for everything and feel fortunate to be here, in the program, and crossing paths with many warm-hearted and kind souls.

Thank you for sharing your experiences so far Ngan–LTS is glad to have your warm-hearted and kind soul as well!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Night at Yamada Language Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What have you enjoyed most about teaching at Yamada?

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

Amna Hassan from Pakistan with Jeff Magoto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 12, 2018
by zachp
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Student Spotlight: Lee Huddleston (2017-18)

It is my pleasure to introduce 2017-18 LTS MA student Lee Huddleston

Lee at Lago Querococha near Huaraz in the Andes Mountains of Peru

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

Hello, my name is Lee and I am a student in the Language Teaching Studies Master’s Degree Program at the University of Oregon. I was born in Ketchikan, Alaska where my Dad worked in a logging camp, but I was raised in Oregon. I love the outdoors: Hiking and camping are major hobbies of mine. I also really enjoy reading (particularly non-fiction history, as well as a variety of fiction books). I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Spanish at the University of Oregon. My first experience abroad was with a high school exchange program in Costa Rica. Then as a senior in college, I studied abroad for a semester in Peru, working simultaneously as a volunteer with at-risk youth in Pachacamac, Peru.

And I know you were in the Peace Corps–how was that experience?

Lee on the picnic island Aferen with his host family taking a rest in between hauling rocks for a project on Moch Island

I served for two years (2014-2016) in the Federated States of Micronesia. My permanent site was Moch Island, a small outer island in the Mortlock island group. Looking back now, I was rather cavalier in my decision to accept that two-year placement after only a brief google search of my future home, but I have never regretted that decision. It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

The impact of this decision hit me the moment I found myself waving good-bye to my new friends from the shore of the mile-long island that would be my home for the next two years. As the motorboat carrying staff members and the other volunteers departed for the next island, I could not help but think about how I was 250 miles away from the nearest place I had ever heard of.

Lee with other Peace Corps volunteers and community leaders conducting a “Camp Boys to Men” summer camp

The Peace Corps was an eye-opening experience in many ways. It allowed me the chance to take on responsibilities, deal with challenges, and learn from mistakes and successes. On the whole, I loved my experiences on the island–they have left me with friends and family who I will treasure for the rest of my life. The skills I learned were equally formative as I navigated challenges of integrating myself into a community, learning skills for the workplace, defining my place in the culture and adapting to the idea that the borders between those things are not always so well defined in small communities.

My job on the island was as a co-teacher, teaching full-time with a local partner. This aspect was a great strength of the program mission as it allowed for mutual learning and cross-cultural dialogue between myself and my local counterpart. As a Peace Corps volunteer I also engaged in a number of secondary projects on my island, including teacher workshops, two summer camps for which I wrote up grants and helped conduct. I also helped conduct student study sessions after school for college entrance exams, and helped with the preliminary stages of building a basketball court for youth development on Moch. It was this experience teaching that stoked my passion for education, bringing me to the point of entering this master’s degree program at UO.

Wow, very cool! And how has the LTS experience been treating you?

LTS has been great so far! My fellow cohort members, the staff, and the courses have been sources of knowledge, wisdom, and enjoyment beyond my expectations.  My favorite aspect of this program is how I am able to put into action what I am learning through my work as a graduate employee at the AEI, and other professional development experiences.

What are you hoping to learn/gain from the program?

I joined this program hoping to build a theoretical foundation in current Second Language Acquisition pedagogy and put that into practice with a strong hands-on application of what I learned. While the Peace Corps was a valuable experience, I feel like before continuing on as an English teacher, it is essential that I gain the knowledge, skills, and legitimacy as a teacher that a Master’s degree in the field will give me. This will help me along the way to becoming a better, more prepared, and more qualified teacher. The way I see it, I owe it to my future students to be the best teacher that I can be.

So you mentioned you are a GE (graduate employee) at the American English Institute–what is that like?

Lee with his AEI Discussion 5 class

Yes, working as a GE at the AEI has been a great experience. Last term I taught a Discussion 5 course. Being able to apply what I learned in my courses to an actual teaching context and vice versa was extremely beneficial. I had never before worked in a university-level context, so to be able to do so in an environment as supportive as the AEI has been a real privilege. Being able to bounce ideas off of colleagues, having a supportive supervisor,  and having all of the AEI resources and facilities available to me are all great benefits of this experience. There have also been challenges, for example implementing a brand-new curriculum that was just developed by the AEI, as well as navigating the ins and outs of teaching a discussion course.

What are your goals for teaching at the AEI this term?

This term I will be teaching a new class, Listening 4, and this should bring with it new challenges that will dictate my goals for this term. One of my goals will be to better utilize Canvas and computer assisted learning to make my course more useful and engaging for my students. Another goal of mine is to try new things in the classroom, varieties of activities, and strategies to address student motivation and communicative competence. After all, one of the great aspects of this opportunity is the chance to try new things, develop myself as a teacher, and learn from these experiences.

Any final thoughts?

I am very thankful for this opportunity to be once again at the University of Oregon to continue my education. I feel like this program is very unique as it focuses on the teaching of not just English, but other languages as well. This brings a diversity to the program that makes it a pleasure to participate in.

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Hope you have a great Winter term!

December 15, 2017
by Trish Pashby
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Program Change: First Term LTS Courses Going Fully Online in Summer 2018

Starting in Summer 2018, the first term of the program will be completely online. All three of the first core courses will be taught via the internet. The new online schedule will be as follows:

  • LING 510 Language, Mind and Society (Weeks 1-4, June 25-July 20)
  • LING 540 Linguistic Principles of Second Language Learning (Week 5-8, July 23-August 17)
  • LT 535 Language Teaching Methods (Weeks 1-8, June 25-August 17)

Visit the LTS website for more information.

Each will provide a flexible, interactive learning experience. In addition to daily opportunities throughout the summer term for interaction with course instructors and classmates, students will also meet other LTS faculty and continuing LTS students through various online social activities.

We asked LTS Program Director Dr. Keli Yerian about the rationale for making this change.

What was the inspiration for the program to shift to all online courses for students in their first term? “Research on online teaching over the past decade has shown us that well-designed online curricula can be highly effective, and our LTS faculty have already designed and taught similar online courses in the past with great success. Also, because only the first Summer term will be online, LTS students will still have plenty of opportunities to have an immersive, face-to-face experience in the program during the rest of the program, so we are getting the best of both worlds. We are very excited about this development.”

Keli Yerian outside of the Laboratoire Parole et Language in Aix en Provence, where she is currently on sabbatical.

What advantages will going ‘all online’ in the first summer bring to LTS students? “The main advantage will be that LTS students can reduce their expenses because they will not be obliged to be on the University of Oregon campus during the first Summer term (the months of June-September). They will not need to pay for travel to or lodging in Eugene, which can reduce costs for out-of-state and international students in particular.”

LTS students and faculty also weighed in on this switch to online courses in the first term. In a recent survey of the program’s current students, several confirmed that having their first term online would have provided some welcome flexibility. One student described it as a “huge advantage, especially for international students. The students don’t have to arrive on campus until Fall term starts and can study at their leisure- at home, in another country, etc. For me, it would have been really nice to have this option.” Another explains, “I think it may help international students of L2 English adjust to the curriculum if they are able to focus on their studies without having to adjust to living in a new country at the same time.”  A third student noted that in addition to being able to “take part in the summer courses from anywhere in the world, which most likely will save money, students will also see how online classes are successfully conducted.”

Dr. Julie Sykes will be teaching the online LING 540 Linguistic Principles of Second Language Learning.

LTS faculty are excited about the change. Dr. Julie Sykes (who serves as director of the Center for Applied Second Language Studies) is the instructor of LING 540 Linguistic Principles of Second Language Learning. She reports that she is “looking forward to implementing some interactive pedagogical ideas that work really well online.” Based on her extensive experience with online learning, she describes one of its key strengths as providing “more opportunities for individualized attention.” She explains “I really find a lot of value in community building and spending time together learning…[there are] many opportunities for interaction between students as well as with me.”

The online courses will serve as an interesting complement to the variety of offerings in the on-campus terms of the program.  Most of these are face-to-face courses using a ‘flipped learning’ approach, which allows students to maximize in-class time for student-centered workshops. And  LT 608 Computer-Assisted Language Learning, offered as a series of 1-credit courses throughout the program, is delivered in a blended format (partially face-to-face, partially online).

Another innovation to the program will take place this summer. In addition to the online switch, there will be a curriculum change. LING 594 English Grammar, formerly taken by many students in the first summer, will be replaced with LING 510 Language, Mind, and Society. We asked Dr. Yerian for more information about this.

What was the motivation for the change in curriculum from the English Grammar course to Language, Mind, and Society? “Because some of our incoming students do not have a prior background in linguistics, we decided that we needed to devote more attention to linguistics in the first term, which is what we are doing with the new course Language, Mind, and Society. However, this course is not a typical introductory level course – it is a graduate level course that connects linguistics closely to both sociolinguistics and cognitive linguistics. Thus it will be highly engaging for our incoming students who already have a background in linguistics as well. Another reason for replacing English Grammar is that not all students in our program plan to teach English, so some of our students were already exempt from this course. LTS will continue to integrate a focus on pedagogical grammar throughout the program.”

Dr. Mokaya Bosire is developing LING 510 Language, Mind, and Society.

The primary developer of Language, Mind, and Society is Dr. Mokaya Bosire of UO’s Linguistics Department. He is particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity to explore themes related to language and social class, speech impairment, machine languages, linguistic profiling, universality of language, and forensic linguistics. Questions guiding some of the course content include the following: How does human language differ from other forms of communication? How does machine language (and assistants like Siri and Bixby) work? Where is language stored in the mind and in what ways? Why does some speech sound gendered? What is slang? What’s the best way to learn a second language? With its emphasis on applying up-to-date findings in the field of linguistics to current trends and events in society, this course promises to be an excellent addition to the LTS program.

LTS faculty Tom Delaney, Robert Elliott, and Julie Sykes discussing online summer courses.

Prospective students can find additional details about the program on the LTS website, including guidelines for the application process. The priority deadline for applying is February 1, 2018. The changes described above should appeal to a number of people seeking an MA in language teaching.  Dr. Sykes told us: “I’m looking forward to working with a great new cohort of students.”

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