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Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

August 15, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni spotlight: Liatris Myers

LTS students can publish too!

Lia Myers graduated from LTS in 2015 and recently published her MA project in the ORTESOL Journal. Her project title was Integrating Instruction on Pragmatically Appropriate English Oral Requests into IEP Courses in the U.S. 

Me hiking in Cocora Valley in the department of Quindío, Colombia.

What was your project about, and what prompted you to consider publishing it?

My project was about teaching pragmatically appropriate English oral requests to adult ESL learners studying English in the United States. Working in the American English Institute at the University of Oregon, I had observed that there was a strong tendency for ESL learners at all language proficiency levels to make oral requests that sounded rude to Americans and that this caused social problems for the learners who did not intend to be rude. I wanted to understand why this situation existed and how it might be resolved. It was Keli Yerian (the LTS Program Director) who suggested publishing the project. She had just read for the first time the chapters where I explained my conclusions from my research and what I was proposing to do, and also my initial draft of pedagogical solutions. Going to meet with her to discuss it, I was really nervous because what I was proposing was very unconventional – I felt it was what my data said needed to be done but I’d never heard of anything like it – and I was worried she would say it was no good. Instead, she said I really had something to contribute to the field and I should publish it. It was one of the proudest moments of my life!

Lia’s article. It is noteworthy that in the same issue another article by LTS faculty Andy Halvorsen and LTS 2018 student Kunie Kellem is also published.

What was the process?

From the time Keli told me I should publish I intended to do it, but after graduation life was very busy starting my teaching career and I didn’t complete the first draft of the manuscript for publication until after my first school year of teaching. However, I’m glad it happened that way because in the intervening time I had the opportunity to gain more practical teaching experience including with some of the techniques I discussed in my project, which enabled me to improve my manuscript with examples and suggestions from the classes I had taught. I first submitted the manuscript to the TESOL Journal, but they rejected it because it didn’t have the type of research they were looking for. I used their feedback to rewrite it and submitted it to the ORTESOL Journal. They responded that it was interesting but they thought it would be more appropriate as an extended teaching note rather than a full-length feature article (the category for which it was submitted) and invited me to rewrite it for the extended teaching note category. So I rewrote and resubmitted it, and the paper was finally published in the 2018 edition of the ORTESOL Journal (available here: https://ortesol.wildapricot.org/Journal2018). So that was three drafts of the manuscript for publication with each draft being reviewed by some combination of Keli Yerian, Linda Wesley (my project advisor), Jim Myers (my dad who has always edited my work), as well as TESOL and ORTESOL reviewers, all of whom gave me feedback to use to revise and improve the manuscript.

How much does your published article resemble your project – what had to change?

The biggest change was I had to make it a LOT shorter. The original project is 143 pages including end materials, but what was finally published is only 10 pages. This meant I had to really distill the project down to the essential points. I also added examples and suggestions from my post-graduation teaching experience and made many changes to both the writing and the content of the manuscript for publication based on feedback from TESOL, ORTESOL, Keli Yerian, Linda Wesley, and my dad, though the core ideas remained the same.

What have you been doing since you graduated from LTS, and what are your future plans?

Oh gosh, I’ve done so many things since I graduated from LTS. Besides getting my MA project published, I taught ESL/ESOL at INTO OSU (Corvallis, Oregon) for several months, then at Chemeketa Community College (Salem, Oregon) for seven terms. While at Chemeketa I wrote and piloted the entire curriculum for a new course on basic computer skills for learners who don’t know how to use a computer or who have a low level of English language proficiency or both. It has since been used by several other teachers in Chemeketa’s ESOL program and I’ve had really positive feedback on it. I also presented on integrating instruction of digital literacy skills into ESOL courses focused on other topics such as reading and writing, listening and speaking, etc. at the Fall 2017 ORTESOL Conference. This year at the beginning of January I travelled to Medellín, Colombia to have the experience of moving to a new country where I didn’t really know the language to look for a job. Seven months later I know Spanish well enough to manage my own affairs in the language, have worked at a private school (preschool through high school) in the Medellín area for a few months, and learned to dance (Colombian salsa). In September I’m headed to Japan to teach at a university there until late January. After that, who knows? There’s a whole world of possibilities out there…

The goodbye message, card, and food from the goodbye party that one of my groups of 5th graders gave me on my last day at the school I worked at in Colombia

Any advice you have for current or future LTS students?

In terms of choosing a topic for the project, I recommend identifying a problem in which you are interested, then figuring out why it exists and how to solve it. Later, if you want to publish, have practical experience with your solutions before you write it up for publication and draw on those when writing your manuscript. Be prepared to do much revision and have people around who can read the manuscript and give you good feedback to help you make it better. When you submit it, choose a journal and category that really fits what you have. Finally, don’t be afraid to pursue an unconventional idea that really seems right. It may be the novel approach that’s needed.

April 29, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni post Yuri Liu

Hello Yuri! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Yuri at work

Dàjiā hǎo! 大家好!Hey everyone – this is Yuri speaking! Here comes a little story about myself!

Born in Shanghai China, I moved to the U.S. in 2010 for graduate studies at the University of Oregon. I started with a Master’s program in Educational Leadership at College of Education. After a year, I was fortunate enough to meet some friends from LTS and found that the program was a perfect continuation of my Bachelor’s study in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign language. Therefore, I decided to study two master’s programs concurrently in 2011 and was so lucky to be able to finish both by summer 2012. Generally speaking, a graduate like me can easily have wanderlust – where there’s a job, there’s a home.

Beijing Trip with Student

Not surprisingly, I moved to San Francisco for my first job, teaching Chinese in an elementary immersion program – the first one in the United States! It was a great year for me when I learned and accumulated a lot from my teaching experience. Yet, I must have became a secret Oregonian. Nostalgia brought me back to Portland in 2013. I started working for a newly established Chinese immersion program in Beaverton. It has been a good five years here. Thanks to all the useful study in LTS, I became the program director after two years of teaching at the school. Then recently I realized that wanderlust perhaps is the true me – just a month ago, I accepted a position at Singapore American School and am going to continue to devote myself to the field of Chinese immersion education. I am excited to realize that it is being a professional of foreign language education that makes us willing to ceaselessly wander the world…

My 1st Grade Science class

Can you tell us more about what you’ve been doing professionally since you graduated from LTS? 

I first worked as an associate teacher at Chinese American International School (CAIS) in San Francisco, teaching Chinese in a 1st Grade and a 5th Grade classrooms. After a year, I joined Hope Chinese Charter School (HCCS) in Beaverton and worked as a Chinese immersion teacher as well as the Chinese curriculum coordinator. In addition to developing the Chinese program benchmarks and curriculum for HCCS, I taught students all subjects areas in Chinese from 1st – 4th Grade. In my 3rd year at HCCS, I became the director of the Chinese immersion program and the lead Chinese immersion teacher. My job responsibilities range from program and curriculum development to Chinese faculty mentoring. I also wrote the STARTALK grant and got accepted for two years to implement the student and teacher training programs in Portland, which definitely helped consolidate my skills in language program development.

My 1st Grade Math

So now you are off to your next adventure in Singapore – what will you be doing there, and how does it fit with your future career goals?

I will be teaching in their newly established Chinese immersion program and hopefully make my own contribution to their Chinese teacher professional learning community. Though it seems that it was a step-down move, it will be instrumental as I have never worked at an international school and it is always a field I’d love to explore on my career course. I am always interested in educational leadership at international schools. I believe this will be a necessary transition to lead me toward that goal.

With my LTS studymates

What did focus on while you were a graduate student at UO? 

I actually had different yet later connected focuses in my two graduate programs. I focused more on comparative education in my educational leadership program, and teaching strategies for increasing language proficiency in my LTS MA project. With my post-research in Chinese immersion education after graduation, it is so apparent that language education should always be intertwined with cultural learning and studies. The teaching techniques could also be varied or fused between different educational systems. At least Chinese immersion education can speak to that – we teach American students with an American-based curriculum and certain Chinese schooling rituals. I will definitely continue with my research in this area and hope to extend my study into the impact of foreign language education on school systems.

NCLC Presentation

What has ended up being most useful for you as a teacher from what you learned in LTS?

The second language teaching principles and the theories behind second language acquisition vs. language learning are really the essence to help me understand how language proficiency should be developed. I can never forget Celce-Murcia’s representation of communicative competence, which really became the theoretical basis I go by while developing my language teaching strategies. I was able to have a good understanding on the national standards for learning languages, thanks to what I have studied about Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) in some of the LTS courses. In a nutshell, the learning in LTS helped me tremendously in my language teaching career. It was my first time to trust that college/graduate studies can actually greatly benefit the career practice.

Looking back, do you have any advice to current or future LTS students?

No. 1, study well, pay attention to what you are/will be learning with LTS, because whatever you have experienced with LTS could become very instrumental to your language teaching career (if that’s what you choose ultimately).

No. 2, better not neglect the study of the theories and always pilot any strategies that you create with a real class body. I am not an empiricist, neither a rationalist. I believe we should rely on both to reflect back and forth. Sometimes theories inspire a way. Sometimes practice finds the theory. Last but never the least, enjoy what you are learning and what you will be doing as a LTS fellow!

April 14, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Emily Letcher

Emily in Mexico – Celebrating Day of the Dead!

This week’s post highlights Emily Letcher, who graduated in 2016 from LTS. Emily began thinking about a future in language teaching as an undergraduate at UO, taking Second Language Acquisition and Teaching classes. She finished her MA degree with a project titled, “Teaching Interlanguage Pragmatics of Disagreement in a Secondary EFL Context Using Film and TV Shows”, and took off to Thailand to teach middle school before settling in Mexico at a university.

What is your life like now, almost 2 years after graduating from LTS?

From Eugene, Oregon to Bangkok, Thailand. From Bangkok to Miahuatlan, Mexico…I grew up in a city of 160,000 people, moved to another of over 8 million, and then decided to settle down in a relatively unknown, southern city in Mexico of about 45,000. I say “settle down” because I now live with my five adopted dogs. All of them are former street dogs here, each with their own story. It’s not always easy to care for them, but it’s definitely worth it.

One of Emily’s rescue dogs playing in the yard

What did you do in Thailand?

Emily with students in Bangkok

Through LTS internships with the US-Thai Distance Learning Organization, which had brought Thai high school students to Oregon several times, I was fortunate enough to make a strong connection with Thailand before even setting foot there. After graduation, I went to Assumption College Thonburi and taught for six months in their English program. Shortly after I arrived, the beloved King of Thailand, Rama IX, passed away. I witnessed an amazing movement of unity and mourning within the country. Bangkok was a whirlwind experience of culture and learning for me.

Traveling in Thailand

What has turned out to be most useful for you from SLAT/LTS?

I’ve just recently completed my first year as a professor at La Universidad de la Sierra Sur (UNSIS). Students here must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and a lot of what we do is to prepare students for that exam. It’s a good challenge for me as a teacher, one that I enjoy. In the LTS program, I focused on curriculum design, so I was extremely excited about, and grateful for, the opportunity here to dive right in and do meaningful curriculum work. I recently wrote a textbook for our first-year, accelerated graduate program. Now I am teaching the course. It’s amazing to me to go through the entire cycle, beginning with those lessons in LTS, to stepping out on my own and developing a full-fledged project, to putting it into practice in a classroom and seeing its results.

Centro de Idiomas at UNSIS -the English department

Do you have any advice or thoughts for current and future students?

Always be open to new opportunities. It may be a tired phrase, but it’s true. I could never have predicted moving to Miahuatlan de Porifirio Diaz, Mexico. It certainly wasn’t part of my ‘grand plan’. I came here with the idea of staying for a short time, but found so much more worth staying for.

A parade in Oaxaca – a city with a rich and artistic culture, two hours from Miahuatlan.

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

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

What brought you to Peru?

Laura Holland in Lima last summer

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

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

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

What kinds of tasks and activities were you involved in?

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

Faculty training session at ICPNA/Chiclayo

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

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

Did you find anything particularly challenging?

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

ICPNA teacher Rosa

What were some of the highlights of your trip?

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

ICPNA students in action

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

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

Delicious Chiclayo food: warm smoky ceviche with smoked grilled potato

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

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

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

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

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

August 18, 2017
by gkm
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LTS 2016 – 2017 Cohort Final Presentations: A Brief Summary and a Fond Farewell

LTS 2016 – 2017 Cohort Final Presentation: A Brief Summary

As the 2016-2017 LTS program comes to a close, the presentations are finished and the finalized projects are rolling in! As this year’s cohort gets ready for their next big adventures in the wilds of language teaching around the globe, this final blog post for the Summer 2017 term will provide a brief glimpse of the hard work and dedication the graduates have put into bettering themselves as language educators, and into bettering the world of language education as a whole. If you missed out on the presentations this year, here is a small gallery of snapshots of each presenter’s work!

Women Teaching Women English: A Contemporary Women Writers Course for Female English Language and Literature Students in Egyptian Universities by Devon Hughes

 

Academic Writing Skills for International Students of Chemistry at a U.S. University by George Minchillo

 

 

Marching to Different Drummers: Teaching a Mixed Class of Heritage and Non-Heritage Learners of Russian with Motivation in Mind by Iryna Zagoruyko

 

Korean as a Second Language for English Speaking Husbands: a Multi-cultural Family Situation-based Curriculum by Jiyoon Lee

 

An Adaptive Place–Conscious Ichishkíin Materials Portfolio by Joliene Adams

 

Crafting a Brand in English for English Language Learning (ELL) College Athletes by Juli Accurso

 

Using TBLT to Address Locative Phrase Word Order Transfer Errors from English L1 to Chinese L2 by Lin Zhu

 

Deciphering the Cryptogram: A Word Puzzle Supplement to Traditional Lexicogrammatical Acquisition by Dan White

 

Using Literature to Develop Critical Thinking and Reading Skills in an EFL Class at University by SeungEun Kim

 

Integrating Service Learning into University Level Spanish Heritage Language Classes in the United States by Valeria Ochoa

 

A Career Exploration Course in Mandarin Chinese for Young Learners in East Asia by Reeya Zhao

 

Using Graphic Novels and Children’s Literature Books in U.S. 2nd year CFL University Courses by Yan Deng

 

Creative Writing in the Digital Age: A Course Design for Intermediate ELLs Majoring in English at an American University by Becky Lawrence

 

Using Podcasts to Teach Academic Listening for International Undergraduate Students through Metacognition: A Flipped Portfolio by Chris Meierotto

As a means of “paying forward” all of the help and support that we received from our professors, fellow classmates, and previous cohorts, the 2016-2017 cohort wrote up a short collection of thoughts and suggestions for future/prospective students regarding the final presentations:

How did it feel leading up to the presentations?

“I was able to learn a lot from the other presentations I saw. I learned how to make a good introduction to my project.” – Yan Deng

“It was definitely nerve wrecking at times. However, by this point in the program, I think us cohort members start viewing ourselves as a productive, contributing members of the field rather than students trying to play catch up, so I also viewed it as a chance to show what I could do as an educator.” – George Minchillo

“I felt great since it was a showcase of all my work, and I was happy to share my project with the cohort and faculty. It was a final milestone, and I tried to do my best for the audience to be interested and engaged in what I was presenting.” – Iryna Zagoruyko

How does it feel to know that you have the presentations behind you?

“I feel good because this was an opportunity to share what I have been engaged in for so long with the audience. After doing so many things during my time in LTS, I still felt supported when preparing for the presentations.” – Lin Zhu

“I feel free at last! However, I do think back to some parts of my presentation that I think could have gone better.” – Heidi Shi

“After doing the 2 year option and finally getting to the end of my final project and presentation, I feel exhilarated, excited, and exhausted! I’d been working on my project for a long time and it has morphed and evolved throughout my time in LTS. To present it in its final form in front of my peers, faculty, friends, and family was such an amazing feeling.” – Becky Lawrence

“It is always a bit sad to be done with anything in life. But, I feel that I did everything I could in my project, and hope very much that it could be useful in teaching mixed classes of Russian. I hope activities from my project will be implemented in the REEES curriculum here at the UO.” – Iryna Zagoruyko

What were the most difficult or the easiest parts of giving the presentations?

“I really tried to focus my presentation on entertaining the audience. I tried to leave out most of the minor details, and instead focus on showing the more ‘flashy’ parts of my project.” – Dan White

“The easiest part for me was making the draft of the slides, because I have so many things that I can pick and choose from my whole project to put in the presentation. The most difficult part was tackling audience questions, because some of them were unexpected!” – Lin Zhu

“The easiest part for me was actually having the chance to show my project! The hardest part was having a lot of information, and choosing which ones I should include in the presentation.” – Yan Deng

“For me, the most difficult part was having the confidence in the work I had done, and in portraying myself as an ‘expert’ in front of experts. The most useful part of the presentation was receiving additional feedback from peers and faculty that could be implemented in the final revisions of the project.” – George Minchillo

Any suggestions for future cohorts?

“For future cohorts, I would advise you to start thinking of project ideas early. Be creative, and try to combine your passions and interests with sound language teaching pedagogy. Take advantage of the built-in support of a cohort system, and ultimately just enjoy the process, because it will fly by before you know it!” – Becky Lawrence

“Prepare ahead of time, practice at least five times, and don’t make the slides too text-heavy! Be confident in yourself :)” – Heidi Shi

“Have confidence in the work you’ve done. You will undoubtedly be one of the most well-read and knowledgeable people about your context and materials in the room!” – George Minchillo

“Even though at this stage in the program, you will have completed 98% of your project. However, adequate time should be set aside to prepare for the presentation.” – Lin Zhu

“Enjoy the moment! Be nice to your cohort! They will be the greatest wealth in your academic life.” – Yan Deng

“Definitely be serious about your project! View it not only as an exercise, but strive to do everything possible to ‘break the ground’ in your field and context. Do not underestimate yourself – you have all the potential to create great activities/course designs for somebody to use in their teaching!” – Iryna Zagoruyko

A Fond Farewell

No matter where we go, and no matter what we do in the future, let’s always remember and think back to the knowledge, experience, and camaraderie we shared with one another as we grew into professional educators together. Even if we lose contact, or never find ourselves in a shared space again, we can always provide inspiration to one another to achieve our best, and to work hard to mold the world of academia as we see fit! For these reasons, I believe it is not necessary to say goodbye, but simply to say good luck to the 2016 – 2017 LTS cohort. I know we will all move on to do great things!

Thank you to my cohort members for all of their support! I hope to see you all again soon.
George Minchillo

“Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt. The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

July 11, 2017
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy with graduates from her Informatica English class

Sarah Murphy graduated from LTS in 2015 and traveled straight to a position she found as an English Professor in Mexico. Her MA Project was ‘An Open Educational Resources Portfolio for Adult Education ESL’.

Where are you working now and what are you teaching?

I’m working at the Universidad de la Sierra Sur in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Mexican college students are required to complete a foreign language requirement in order to graduate, so I teach a variety of college level EFL classes.

What do you like best about what you do?

I love this job. It’s not without its challenges. Oaxaca is the poorest state in Mexico, and it can really be a hustle to make things work well. Having said that, I love my work. Our students come from tiny pueblos all over the state. More than 80% of them are first generation university attendees here on scholarship. It means a lot to me to work with these determined young people who are making this massive life change and socioeconomic leap. It’s just exciting to be a part of what they’re doing.

Additionally, the students bring me salsa made from flying ants, so my life is not dull.

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching now?

Everything! I mean it. From writing exams to structuring classes and designing curriculum, I’ve used it all so far. I can’t think of any course that hasn’t been useful to me.

Maybe the most valuable skill I learned was how to grow a language learning course based on the needs of the learner (thank you, Keli!). Since entering the world of EFL, I’ve worked with many seasoned profs who were just never exposed to the process of designing courses based on a needs analysis or problematizing a context to exploit its specific advantages and tackle those inevitable obstacles. I am so grateful to have been trained in context-specific instruction and course design. It has informed every good decision I’ve made as a teacher.

Sarah with her enfermerfia English class graduates

Looking back, what advice would you give to current or future LTS students?

Well, I would say that you just never know what skills you’ll need to use in your future contexts, so absorb as much as you can.

I also think that transition from grad school to actual instruction can be a little awkward for some new teachers, so I can offer my perspective on being a newbie. There are no ideal contexts out there! New teachers can be really keen to affect positive change, and that’s as it should be. But listening and learning is also an important part of the first years of teaching (or just teaching in a new context). The LTS gives grads an amazing toolbox; teaching is about learning how to apply them well.

Don’t rush the process. Experiment and pay attention to what works for you and what doesn’t. Collaborate with other teachers and participate in observations as much as possible. I’m such a different teacher than I thought I’d be, and that’s a good thing!

July 7, 2017
by gkm
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Professional Development with the International Association for Language Learning Technology

Becky and Jeff at the banquet dinner and awards ceremony.

In addition to the many internship opportunities available to LTS students, there are also many opportunities for professional development in the field of language teaching! In March, several LTS students attended the 2017 TESOL Convention in Seattle, Washington, which was a great opportunity for them to learn new ideas from experienced teachers in the field. Becky Lawrence (2017 cohort) presented at TESOL Electronic Village, which was an amazing opportunity for her to share what she has been working on in the LTS program with other teachers.

Becky also accompanied LTS faculty and Yamada Language Center director, Jeff Magoto, to the biennial 2017 International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT) conference held at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota this past June. Jeff, also a longtime IALLT member, gave presentations about the Yamada Language Center and ANVILL. Becky gave a presentation about her MA project, which was great practice for the final MA presentations coming up in August.

Fun fact! The 2019 IALLT Conference will be held in our very own American English Institute at the University of Oregon, hosted by Jeff Magoto himself! Because technology in language teaching is such a crucial part of the LTS program, IALLT is a great organization for LTS students. They provide a lot of support and opportunities for graduate students and new teachers to present at conferences and publish in their journals. The IALLT organization is very warm and welcoming. Despite not knowing anyone besides Jeff upon arriving, Becky left the conference with many new friends!

For graduate students interested in attending IALLT conferences, IALLT also offers a $500 Ursula Williams Graduate Student Conference Grant to help pay for costs such as registration and housing. Becky was a recipient of this grant for the 2017 conference, and plans to stay involved in the organization to support graduate students in the future!

TESOL and IALLT are just two of the organizations that LTS students can become a part of, whether to attend, present, or publish.

To learn more about TESOL, visit http://www.tesol.org/

To learn more about IALLT, visit https://iallt.org/

Several of the graduate students who attended IALLT with Dr. Amanda Romjue (center), a 2015 Ursula Williams Grant recipient and current graduate student mentor.

November 23, 2016
by gkm
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Student Spotlight: Dan White

10609432_10206962125785413_1985016490970727243_nTell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where have you worked? Any hobbies?

My name is Dan White, and I was born and raised in Portland, OR, USA. I definitely fall under the “nontraditional student” category. Out of high school, I worked random customer service jobs, until, one day I realized I was not living up to my potential. I decided, on a whim, to join the military. I joined the US Army as an ammunition specialist and shipped off to basic training in 2006. The Army had me all over the US as well as spending a year in Korea and nine months in Iraq. I finished my contract with the Army and started school at the University of Oregon in 2010. I received my BA in Linguistics in 2013.

I had applied for the LTS program for the fall of 2013, but I decided to pursue some work experience by heading off to Korea to teach English. This was my second stint in Korea, but my first was spent with the U.S. Army, so I did not really get a chance to fully enjoy my time. The second time, I focused on learning the language and culture and truly experiencing every part of Korea. I made lifelong friends, and started a new hobby that is now a major part of my life: solving Rubik’s Cubes competitively.   I started learning as a way to pass time, but I soon realized that I had an aptitude and passion for these puzzles. I incorporated them into my English classroom, and I used my after-school classes (where the curriculum was entirely up to me) to teach Rubik’s Cubes to my students. I used English to teach them how to solve the puzzle. This has become a vital part of my teaching methodology. I truly believe the best way to learn a language is not to focus on the language itself, but to focus on completing a task that is of particular interest to you. Then you are not learning the language simply to learn it, you are learning an entirely new skill and the language is simply the medium you are using to acquire that skill.

After three years in Korea, I recently came back to the United States in September of 2016, and I started in the LTS program in the Fall of 2016. I am still adapting to living in the United States again, and I am very excited to continue pursuing my education. I love teaching, and I want to do everything I can to become the best language teacher that I can.

You had an internship opportunity to work with students from Saint Gabriel’s College in Bangkok, Thailand. What was that like?

I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a group of high school students from Thailand. I could immediately tell that they were very special. I taught them over the course of two weeks. Rather than focusing on language courses, I taught them cultural courses. I had a lesson on comedy and a lesson on expectations vs. reality. Their trip culminated in a presentation to LTS students in Dr. Trish Pashby’s “Teaching Culture and Literature” class. Prior to the actual presentation, we had a practice presentation. The students did well, but I gave them a lot of feedback. Their English was fine, but they needed to work on their presentation skills. They primarily lacked in smooth transitions from speaker to speaker and visually-appealing slides. The difference between their practice presentations and the presentations given in class was night and day. I was so proud to see the way they took my advice to heart and poured everything they had into their presentations. It was one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had as a teacher.

Talk to us about working with the Fulbright Scholars.

Mixed in among our LTS students in various classes are some amazing minds from across the world. We are lucky enough to share our Literature and Culture class with four Fulbright Scholars. Fulbright Scholars work on special scholarships to study in the United States while also teaching their native language and culture. The four we have are from Kenya, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Thailand.

I had the opportunity to select some students for a lesson demonstration in my Multiliteracies course. I decided to invite all four of them, although I only needed to demonstrate my lesson for two students. All four showed up, and I taught them a lesson on American comedy. We discussed different comedy styles, I showed them various examples of American comedy. We also analyzed a specific comedy sketch, looking at various elements (camera angles, music changes, language choices) and discussed how they added to the comedic element of the video. Then they attempted to create their own comedic sketch.

The lesson was very challenging, but the Fulbright scholars were more than up for the task. I was very impressed with how patient and receptive they were to my lesson. I think teachers make very good students as they know the challenges that a fellow teacher faces, and I was definitely lucky to have them in my class. I also felt that they benefited a lot from this lesson as comedy is an extremely difficult topic to understand for second-language learners as there are both linguistic and cultural hurdles. Overall it was a great experience with them.

You’re also an intern with CASLS, right? What can you tell us about that?

I am currently working as an intern with the Games2Teach project of the CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies) program. My job is to play commercial video games and assess how they can be used by language teachers to facilitate language learning. I look at both language and cultural aspects of these games that could benefit students. I assess the age appropriateness, language difficulty, and overall genre of the games. This experience has been very rewarding, as my master’s project will be focused on developing a language teaching game template that teachers can adapt to their lessons. I have found many elements from the games that I have tested that I would love to incorporate into my own game.

Last but not least, tell us about the Cubing Club!

The UO Cubing Club did not exist, so I decided to go through the steps to start it. Students need hobbies to pass the time, and cubing is a great one. I love teaching people how to solve the cube. I get to see the excitement on their faces when they are finally able to make the last turn that solves the cube. It is a lot like the joy I get in seeing my language-learning students progress. We also help people who can already solve to transition into competitive solving. They can learn larger cubes (4×4, 5×5, etc), or they can add new tricks to the normal 3×3 (blindfolded solving, one-handed solving, etc). Meeting with the club is a great stress reliever for me. I hope the club continues to grow throughout my time here at UO. If you are interested in joining, look up “UO Cubing Club” on OrgSync!

November 15, 2016
by LTSblog
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Lead from within! LTS Faculty blog post by Deborah Healey

In today’s post, LTS faculty Deborah Healey discusses the opportunities and benefits of taking the lead in professional organizations in the field. You can read more about Deborah Healey on a past blog post here.

Professional organizations like ORTESOL, ACTFL, and TESOL International Association are successful because they offer a variety of activities, networking, and support for their members. Volunteers with the organization provide the bulk of the support. They guide the organization and its activities. Volunteers are the backbone of annual conventions, for example, and most organization newsletters and websites have content provided by volunteers. These volunteers are both necessary and very visible parts of the organization. Organization leadership comes from the volunteers who have been active in the organization and the profession.

What does this mean for graduate students and other professionals in language teaching? It means that you can give to your profession and add to your resume by volunteering. This will help you move forward on a leadership path.

I’ve been part of the leadership of ORTESOL and TESOL at different times and in different ways. I’ve been the ORTESOL Newsletter editor, part of several TESOL Task Forces and a TESOL Interest Section Chair, and a member of the CALL Interest Section Steering Committee.

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Deborah when she was ORTESOL newsletter editor in the 1980s

I am now on the Board of Directors of TESOL, making decisions about policy and governance for the association.

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2016 TESOL Board of Directors

Being on the Board was not on my mind when I agreed to be ORTESOL Newsletter Editor, nor when I was on different Task Forces and involved in the Interest Section. Like most volunteers, I took part in those activities because they sounded interesting. They gave me great connections and good friends. My involvement has made me a better teacher and, overall, a more competent professional in the language teaching field. This involvement has also given me the opportunity to travel to international conferences as an invited speaker.

2014 HUPE (EFL) Conference in Croatia

2014 HUPE (EFL) Conference in Croatia

You can start on a path to leadership by doing many of the same things that you may be doing now. Write for your local affiliate/section of a professional organization (the ORTESOL Newsletter Editor would love to hear from you!). Present at a local and national conference (poster sessions are usually easiest to propose and have accepted). Volunteer to help with the local conference if it is nearby or with the national conference if you are planning to attend. People in the organization will notice your work. As you take on more responsibilities – because they seem interesting, of course – you will be on a leadership pathway that may take you to new and exciting places.

leadership-schematic

Leadership schematic – some directions

November 9, 2016
by gkm
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Student Spotlight: George Minchillo

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Tell us about yourself!

My name is George Minchillo and I am from Dallas, Texas. I first became interested in language study during my high school years when I began learning Latin. I college, I took the plunge and decided to make language my career focus, earning a Bachelor’s in French at the University of North Texas. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with a French degree, I took a year to go abroad and teach English as part of the English Program in Korea. I loved the experience so much that I started researching TESOL programs which eventually led me to the LTS program at the University of Oregon! After graduation I’m hoping to return to Korea (or Japan, or China, or anywhere really!) to teach English at the university level. One hobby, embarrassing as it may be, is that I like to collect textbooks. At one point, I had over 200 but decided to let them go as they were too bulky to carry around the globe with me.

Tell us about your internship at Lane Community College in Eugene. What are the Digital Literacy Workshops? 

In today’s digitalized world where almost everything is run by a computer in some fashion, there are still those who have no prior experience using a desktop or smart device in their day-to-day life. The Digital Literacy Workshops are a way to help those students at LCC who may be new to using a computer or who would like improve their digital skill sets. The workshop topics can be flexible, but the participants usually want to learn the basics such as how to use a mouse, how to type, how to open and close programs, and most importantly how to do what they need to for school (online homework, registration, connecting to the school’s Wi-Fi). Most of the students who participate in the workshops are ESL students so it is a multi-tasking of teaching computer skills and language skills. It’s a great, stress-free environment to get your feet wet if you have no prior teaching experience or, even if you do, to try something new and challenging.

You’re a part of Talking with Ducks. Can you tell us more about that?

Talking with Ducks is part of the Language Teaching 537 course ‘Teaching Practice.’ The class is designed to allow novice teachers a chance to (as the title implies) practice their teaching skills while learning about the principles of language teaching in their other classes. Every week the grad student leaders or LT Ducks meet and plan a lesson to implement in the Talking with Ducks class that is an elective for current international students at the American English Institute (or AEI). Topics include things like Travel, Holidays, Etiquette and Customs, and many other cultural items of interest to the AEI students. The discussion-based class is not only fun but gives us a great opportunity to interact with the students, which is important to me as they are the audience I will be working with in my future career goals.

You also work with the American English Institute. What kind of work do you do?

I have 2 different positions with the AEI: Conversation Partner and Activities Lead. As a Conversation Partner, my duties include meeting with students individually two times per week and giving them an opportunity to practice conversation without classwork or needing to share time with classmates. Conversation Partners are also able to participate in Oral Skills classes, where the teachers give specific tasks to help students with, and also at Help Desk, which is a drop-in spot for AEI students to get help on their homework. In addition to these duties as Conversation Partner, I also act as an Activities Lead, which means I drive the students in a van to fun activities or volunteer opportunities and then act as a conversation partner for them during the trip. Examples of activity trips include Portland downtown, Crater Lake, and Lincoln City by the coast. If there are any future LTSers who don’t have a GTF and want a little extra teaching experience outside of class, I highly recommend working with the AEI. It starts off small as a Conversation Partner, but the opportunity to grow and become an integral part of the AEI is a great chance to maximize the time you spend with the students!

What are you most excited to learn or do during your time in the LTS program?

I’m most excited to start working on my own Master’s project. Although at this point in time I’m still a little unsure of which direction I want to take my research, I feel like I have a strong team of professors who are willing to help push me in the right direction. If you’re looking for a program where you have the freedom to develop your own materials and test them out in the classroom, then LTS is definitely for you!

 

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