LTS

Language Teaching Specialization Blog Site at the University of Oregon

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!

 

September 28, 2016
by gkm
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Why should you join LTS?

Finished the first week of LT 528 Culture, Language, and Literature!

Finished the first week of LT 528 Culture, Language, and Literature!

Are you thinking about joining the LTS program (or currently looking for a Master’s program dedicated to language education and pedagogy) but aren’t quite sure about your motivations to take the graduate school plunge or wondering what you can expect out of such a program? In order to help prospective students understand what the LTS program is all about we asked current graduate students about their reasons for signing up to be a member of the LTS 2016-2017 cohort!

Why did you join the LTS program?

  • Suparada Eak-in (Thailand): “I am an English teacher in Thailand. I joined the LTS program because I wanted to gain more knowledge and experience about teaching, language and culture.”
  • Anh Duong (Vietnam): “I’m a Vietnamese FLTA. I joined the program because I am an English teacher in my home country, so I believe I will benefit a lot from the program developing my teaching skills and to know more about American education.”
  • Aska Okamoto (Tokyo, Japan): “I did the SLAT program when I was in undergrad and really liked it. I worked at a Japanese Immersion school for one year as an OPT and decided to come back as an LTS student because I want to research more about L2 teaching.”
  • Dan White (Portland, Oregon): “I became interested in language teaching while getting my undergrad in Linguistics. I taught English in Korea for 3 years, and I would like to get my Master’s to become a better language teacher.”
  • Kainat Shaikh (Pakistan): “I am an FLTA teaching the Urdu language at the Yamada Language Center. I am a Fulbright scholar and researcher. I joined LTS to experience American classes and to learn from the experience of the UO faculty. LTS will improve my English teaching methodologies and will bring light upon modern pedagogy.”
  • Iryna Zagoruyko (Ukraine): “I’m very fascinated with teaching after I’ve been teaching Russian for two years at the U of O.”
  • Becky Lawrence (Lafayette, Louisiana): “I originally joined LTS because it was a short program that would allow me to specialize in English teaching. However, I realized that there were many opportunities for me that I’m so grateful for. I got to meet others from many countries around the world, which has expanded my perspective greatly. I also extended my time another year so that I can do an internship in Japan for this term. Basically, the LTS program has everything I ever wanted in an MA program and more!”
  • Ruya Zhao (Beijing, China): “First, I’ve been dreaming of being a language teacher. Second, as an international student (as well as bilingual in English and Chinese), this program offers me many chances to practice and learn pedagogical theories.”
  • Juli Accurso (Ohio): “I joined the LTS program because it was the next ‘academic’ step that blended with my interests in language, linguistics and teaching that I discovered in undergrad!”
  • Sue Yoon (South Korea): “I really enjoyed taking LT courses as an undergraduate student here at UO, so I decided to join the LTS program and learn more about language teaching!”
  • Chris Meierotto (Denver, Colorado): “I felt that the program offered through the University of Oregon was more attractive than other teaching programs because of its focus on application, emphasis on technology, and its fundamental approach as a language teaching program rather than just an English program.”
  • Jiyoon Lee (Seoul, South Korea): “I liked the uniqueness of this program. I want to teach both Korean and English in the future, and this program allows me to focus on multiple languages. It’s great that I can take some elective classes from the EALL department as well.”
  • Yan Deng (China): “There are three reasons. First, when I was little, I wanted to be a language teacher. Second, LTS is a wonderful program and I could learn a lot from it. Third, there are a lot of people who come from different countries. Since I want to make new friends, I love the LTS program.”
  • Heidi Shi (China): “I’m currently a Ph.D student majoring in Chinese linguistics. The LTS program is my concurrent degree and the reason why I wanted to join was because it facilitates my research in Chinese pedagogy.”
  • Lin Zhu (China): “I realize that teaching one’s own native language is not as easy as I thought. So, the LTS program is really helpful for me to be a good language teacher.”
  • George Minchillo (Dallas, Texas): “After graduating from my undergraduate studies, I wanted to take some time to travel. When the English Program in Korea offered me the opportunity to travel and work at the same time teaching English, I couldn’t resist. After a year teaching in Korea, I decided to pursue a graduate program that would allow me to continue on this career path and the LTS program promised just that. I’ve seen the success of former students and couldn’t wait to join the cohort!”
  • Adam Li (China): “I was eager to learn more techniques in LTS and it’s also easy to get a concurrent degree with my EALL program.”
  • Valeria Ochoa (Las Vegas, Nevada): “I joined the LTS program to help others learn language efficiently and comfortably as well as to better understand how language acquisition works. I also want to be an awesome, well-prepared teacher.”
  • Irena Njenga (Kenya): “I want to learn how to integrate language and culture.”
  • Joliene Adams (Portland, Oregon): “I joined LTS because it’s more than your average TESOL program, because of a diversity of language teaching and potential languages one could teach that are offered within, and because of the job placement rate and satisfaction I found when researching graduates!”
  • Kunie Kellem (Japan): “I would like to learn the practical methodology for teaching students in Japan.”
  • Krystal Lyau (Taiwan): “I would like to become a language teacher, and help my students learn a second language without suffering.”
  • Devon Hughes (Dunn, North Carolina): “I joined the LTS program because it offered, on paper, the same courses as a M.A. in Education TESOL, with the added benefits of being housed in the linguistics department and the partnership with the AEI. I knew, with both of these aspects, I would be able to have a solid, theoretical linguistic foundation on which to build a career of application and practice in the TESOL classroom. The opportunity to be the AEI GE also made this program stand out from the rest. It’s rare to receive funding in the social sciences at the Master’s level. I’m thrilled to have work in the exact type of classroom I want to be in after graduation.”

Are you currently an undergraduate student who may be interested in joining the LTS program in the future? Or are you perhaps a graduate student who is interested in becoming a language teacher but are not sure another Master’s degree is what you’re looking for? We also asked students pursuing the Linguistics department’s SLAT certification (and taking classes together with the LTS cohort) about their interest in language teaching!

Why did you pursue the SLAT certification?

  • Maude Molesworth (San Francisco, California): “I joined the SLAT program because I am interested in teaching, and possibly teaching English abroad after I graduate.”
  • Jeremy Morse (Eugene, Oregon): “I think the knowledge and experience I can gain from the SLAT classes prepare me perfectly for what I want to do next: teaching English abroad.”
  • Teal Henshen (Springfield, Oregon): “I joined the SLAT program because I love languages and want to travel to teach.”
  • Russell Morgan (Los Angeles, California): “As a linguistics major it seemed like a good option to get a certificate while completing my upper division credits. I’d like to go overseas to teach and maybe come back for a Master’s.”

January 26, 2016
by LTSblog
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Tips for writing a personal statement for graduate school

For those who are applying to graduate programs in language teaching in the US, it’s that time of the year to craft your personal statement as part of your application. Here are a few tips for making a statement that will stand out to your readers:

The DOs:

  • DO…organize your statement as a ‘deductive’-style essay: with an introduction paragraph, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should engage the readers but also make a fairly direct statement about why you are a good fit for the program. The body paragraphs can then provide specific supporting information for your qualifications, interests and goals, while the conclusion can restate how these qualifications will match well with the program you are applying to.
  • DO…highlight your past educational and professional experiences that have brought you to a career in language teaching. If you are an experienced language teacher, highlight your accomplishments, what you have learned from them, and how they have influenced your teaching identity and philosophy. If you have little experience teaching so far, describe what experience you do have and why it has inspired you to learn and do more in this profession.
  • DO…tailor your statement to the specific program. Write about what you hope to learn from the program and how your participation and strengths will contribute to the program. Most departments want to see that an applicant is ready to take advantage of the resources in the program (e.g. relationships with faculty, other departments or institutes, internships, specific coursework topics, etc.) and realize their own full potential with those resources.
  • DO…provide specific examples of your achievements, goals, and experiences that help to tell the story of your journey towards becoming a language teacher, curriculum development, or future administrator.
  • DO…write your statement well before the deadline, so you have time to revise and refine it before you submit it.

The don’ts:

  • Don’t…exaggerate or misrepresent your own teaching experience. If you have little experience so far, be honest about this.
  • Don’t…just list facts and statistics about yourself. Write also about what you have learned about your own interests and goals, and how these relate to the future.
  • Don’t…wait until the end of your essay to state why you want to attend the program. Readers want to see your ‘thesis’ near the beginning of the statement.
  • Don’t…ask someone else to write your statement for you! Readers will expect writing styles to naturally vary, and understand that bilingual and multilingual writers may have a unique writing ‘accent’. Do, however, revise and edit carefully for common errors and for typos.
  • Don’t… write it at the last minute.

In the end, faculty who are reviewing graduate program applications want to see a clearly written statement of who you are now, how you got to this point, and where you want to go, all in the context of your (future) professional identity as a language teacher.

Good luck with your application!

Keli Yerian, LTS Director

 

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