LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

June 10, 2020
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight Yoshihisa

こんにちは! Hi, I’m Yoshi from Japan. You might be imagining a green monster in Mario brothers and you are maybe right! Actually, I am very good at jumping. In fact, I was able to jump higher than my apartment (Oh my apartment does not jump at all…). Anyway, I’d love to answer some questions!

Thank you Yoshi! First, how are you doing during this very unusual term?

I am doing ok! I guess this term is tough for everyone since we cannot go to coffee shops, meet friends, take classes on campus, and so on. However, we can meet classmates and professors online! (The picture below seems many students felt the computer screen was bright.) I also learned so many online materials and ways for language teaching. I believe this experience will allow me to help students better!

Shades day in an early Zoom meeting

What did you decide to focus on during your time in the LTS program?

I am interested in Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) because TBLT has potential for meeting each student’s needs and giving many opportunities for students to practice real-life communicative situations.

From my experience of studying English and teaching junior high and high school students in Japan, I found out that students are diverse in so many ways and we must meet each student’s needs. In addition, when people around the world can communicate anywhere and anytime, it is crucial to support students to be ready for successful communication with people around the world who may have different native languages, different cultures, religions, and so on.

I believe TBLT is a great solution to address these goals. There are different definitions of TBLT, but everyone agrees that it utilizes tasks at the core of the language teaching. The emphasis is on the completion of the tasks instead of students’ accuracy such as their grammatical mistakes. I found it similar to a real-world situation! Students usually try the tasks at the beginning of the lesson without learning grammar and vocabulary beforehand. By the end of the task, each student has discovered what they can do and what they cannot do. Here, each student learns and practices what they need with differentiation techniques.

I am writing my final project about TBLT and Differentiated Instruction, and now I am putting together a literature review, surveys from teachers and students in Japan, and document analyses. I am really looking forward to the completed final project!

Congratulations on your project so far! As someone who is close to finishing the program, do you have any words of advice for future LTS students?

Yes!! But first, I’d like to say you made the right decision, future LTS students!! This is a wonderful place where people love language teaching, people love helping each other, and people love hanging out outside the school.

First advice: Please take a break! Hang out with your colleagues.

This is graduate school and you will have so many things to do. You might need to read many articles or write a long essay in one day. Some of you might have a GE position and need to work for about 20 hours a week in addition to your study. It is a lot… There is no time to do something other than studying… Oh, that is not true!! Taking a rest from study will help you work better! Eugene has many good restaurants, coffee shops, and nature. Go outside!!

Alton Baker Park

I run around Alton Baker park every day. I saw Keli and Robert kayaking there once.

On Spencer Butte, the air is really delicious! On the summit, you will have a magnificent view!

Spencer Butte

Spencer Butte from a different angle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second advice: Talk to your professors!

You will learn so many new things and some of them will be hard to understand. The theories and the practices are different, and you might need to know the first-hand experiences. Ask your professors! They always welcome your questions and love helping their students.

May 20, 2020
by LTSblog
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Faculty reflections on our remote term

LTS faculty and staff really care about their students! We want you to know that we are here to encourage and support and celebrate what you are doing. We are also reflecting on what we are learning from this term, from you our students, and from the situation itself of suddenly teaching and administrating online. Below are some quotes from us about our reflections so far.

I’ve learned a lot this term, and I’ve genuinely been really encouraged by my experiences with remote teaching. I have designed and delivered quite a few asynchronous courses, but the real-time Zoom sessions have been new to me. As much as I value the face-to-face classroom experience, I’ve enjoyed this term largely because it has been so experimental. I feel like both faculty and students have been very creative this term. Sometimes good things can come from trying times!

— Andy Halvorsen

I sure miss the classroom and interacting with everyone f2f, but I have enjoyed experimenting with various Zoom and Canvas tools (and look forward to using some of these in future courses). I admire the flexibility, effort, and responsibility students bring to class despite the challenges. I learn so much from them as well as from communicating with colleagues about their remote teaching experiences—what a great community! The LTS social hour (I go to the Friday afternoon one) has been a relaxing and fun way to get to know students and faculty better—I discover things I never would have if it weren’t for these Zoom sessions!

— Trish Pashby

I have learned how truly creative and resilient our students and faculty are under less than ideal circumstances. It has been inspiring to watch how quickly they adapt, how hard they work, and how engaged they remain. It is an honor to work with them.

— Julie Sykes

Although it may take a few emails back and forth (which can be tiring) in place of someone dropping by my desk for a quick chat, it’s been a relatively painless transition to remote work. Implementing and guiding students through new electronic processes which were previously done on paper has been fun and insightful. I truly hope what we’ve learned from this experience will have a positive impact on our procedures, making them easier for students when we’re back on campus. While my ability to assist students hasn’t changed working from home, I sure do miss seeing them and can’t wait for the day our main office is bustling again!

— Kayla Robinson, Graduate Coordinator

This has been the most unusual term I’ve ever seen. One thing I’ve enjoyed is the weekly informal meetings with the students where we catch up and sometimes play games together. I actually feel I know my students better through these informal meetings, and its been a blast laughing together.

— Robert Elliott

What I have learned from teaching remotely this term: Notes to self:

  1. I can do “the impossible” and I’m not in this alone; collaborate!
  2. Don’t waste time and precious energy resisting what can’t be changed; rather, spend that energy on what I can still do and what I can adapt and learning new tools.
  3. I am having to do what I ask my students to do every day–to be brave and take the risks necessary for genuine learning; I always say that teachers need to try something hard and new every year or so to remember what it feels like to “be on the other side of the desk.”
  4. I am still me and that is what I bring to the classroom, no matter the platform. Inability to complete an activity one way opens possibilities for new ways to explore the material.
  5. Creating learning experiences is key.

— Laura Holland

This term I have learned that the LTS students are flexible and resilient! I have also learned that using partially “flipped” classes can be a helpful resource (whether we are engaging remotely or not).

— Kris Kyle

Sometimes timing is everything, and much of the time you have no control over what coincides with it. When we rolled out the latest version of ANVILL in the Fall (you were the first users) we had no idea that hundreds of teachers would be looking for a streaming media platform that works inside of their LMS. It’s been humbling and challenging these past 3 months to support language teachers on campus and afar as they try to find many different ways of showing and telling and connecting.

— Jeff Magoto

I have learned from this that while I regret not seeing everyone in person, I still get great energy from our interactions online. Granted, this term my interactions are the fun ones – the microteaching workshops, our social hours, and office hours – but the energy I get from staying connected with students and colleagues reinforces for me that teaching, or learning and collaborating together, is the right profession for me. I have also learned that we are adaptable, and that we are resilient indeed. I think we will look back on this period and be amazed at what we can accomplish even when we are caught off guard, distracted, or spending extra time under our covers to escape the world’s challenges. I love the expression ‘expand the pie‘, which is a term in business negotiations that refers to actively exploring new paths to common interests rather than defaulting to zero-sum compromises. Faced with remote learning, we don’t need to get stuck in a deficit mindset of how we are compromised; we can work in collaboration with technology to notice what we didn’t have before, like being able to meet up with everyone we want with just a click. Of course, I’m still really looking forward to having the choice again…

— Keli Yerian

 

April 12, 2020
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight – Ryan

Hi, I’m Ryan, and I graduated with the LTS cohort of 2013. Since then I’ve been teaching at Tokyo International University in charming Kawagoe, Japan, about an hour northwest of Tokyo by train. Positions for full-time English teachers are usually limited to a few years in Japan, so last year it was time to begin the hunt for another job.

Hello Ryan! Thanks for catching up with us on the LTS blog! The last time we heard from you, you described your work at Tokyo International University. Now you are about to start a new adventure. What are you doing next?

I was really excited (and extremely relieved) to land a spot at Kanda University of International Studies, a school that focuses exclusively on foreign language studies. It’s in Chiba, about an hour east of Tokyo. With the arrival of COVID-19, everything has changed. Like schools around the world, Kanda has made all courses online for the first semester, my entire orientation to the university has been on Zoom, and collaboration with colleagues from afar. It looks like this will be the new norm for the foreseeable future! Let’s hope we can make more of a human connection in the fall.

What is interesting or exciting to you about this new position?

I’m particularly interested in getting involved in their Self-Access Learning Center, where students can be trained to direct their own learning (related to my final project in LTS!).  I’ll be starting at the end of March, and I’m really looking forward to what’s in store.

You’ve said you had a good experience at TIU as your first teaching position after LTS. Looking back on your 6 years at TIU, what do you think is key to a positive and growth-oriented workplace? What should our LTS graduates be looking for when they interview for positions?

I really lucked out with TIU. It was the first opportunity for employment after LTS (Thanks for the heads up, Keli!) and was a wonderful experience. Both the administration and my colleagues were very supportive; at no time did I feel I couldn’t turn to someone for help or information. There were also plenty of opportunities for professional development and learning. I hope new LTS graduates can sense such an environment when they begin looking for jobs.

It’s been 6 years since you graduated. What do you hope to learn, experience, or discover in the next 6 years?

Looking forward, I’ll continue to develop professionally and enjoy my life here. I intend to get more involved in research at KUIS’ center for autonomous learning, a subject I’m very interested in. I also want learn about my new community: find new haunts, meet locals, and participate in neighborhood events. And, of course, continue my life-long study of Japanese!

A last question – how important do you think it is to stay in touch with colleagues from the past as you move through different phases in your life? 

Life after LTS has been a real adventure, just like the program was. It’s always fun to hear what old classmates have been up to. Many of us have been lucky enough to see each other at various celebrations in our lives. Staying connected is sometimes a way to learn about professional opportunities, but it’s always a way to remember and enjoy good times.

December 19, 2019
by krobin14
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Alumni Spotlight- Sothy

Sothy Kea graduated from LTS as a Fulbright awardee in 2014 and is now a TESOL language teacher educator and English Center Director in Cambodia. His particular passion for teaching pronunciation led to his MA project, titled “Integrated Oral Skills English Pronunciation Course for Cambodian College Students”.

Sothy at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

What have you been up to since you graduated in 2014?

Since my graduation, I have come back to work as a university lecturer at Institute of Foreign Languages, Royal University of Phnom Penh. I have been teaching in MA in TESOL Program and supervising MA students’ theses. In addition, I have taken a management and leadership position at CIA FIRST International School. I am currently a director of CIA FIRST English Center, which offers general English programs to students of various ages.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of your work in the past few years? Have you had any particular challenges?

Having set up CIA FIRST English Center for CIA FIRST International School has been one of the biggest milestones in my career for the last few years. It used to be only a general English program with approximately 80 students. It has now become a center offering separate English programs to approximately 500 children, teenagers, and adults. In addition, I feel blessed to have formed a dynamic dedicated team in this center, who have been working extremely hard and collaboratively to make today’s success possible. Without them, little would have been achieved! Getting to where we currently are has been quite a challenge though. Transforming an entire organization with a limited budget and human resources was never an easy task. Revamping the curriculum, growing the student number, setting new business strategies, and making other organizational changes were all what we had to do, but these required a lot of patience, dedication, and collaboration among all of the stake holders.

Do you feel that your MA project on integrating pronunciation instruction into the curriculum has been useful to you, directly or indirectly?

with a group of colleagues at CIA FIRST English Center

I believe that my MA project has definitely been useful for my career in two distinctive ways. The overall concepts and hands-on experience of this course development project have tremendously helped me with the curriculum revamping project at CIA FIRST English Center. When we revamped our whole curriculum, I could apply a lot of what I had learned from my MA project into this to make it successful. Also, in MA in TESOL Program at IFL, I have been assigned to teach curriculum and syllabus design in language teaching course in which a great deal of notions from my previous project are practical and relevant, making the teaching even more effective.

Do you stay in touch with any of your cohort members from 2013-14?

After I have graduated, I have been completely occupied with work and family. However, I have been keeping in touch with some friends and professors through email and social media. Last year, I got a chance to attend a conference in Nashville, Tennessee but could not manage to fly to Eugene to visit my professors and friends there. Hopefully, I can do so next time.

Is there any advice you would give to current or future LTS students now in (almost) 2020?

Based on my experience, I am humbled to share a few words with the current and future LTS students. Firstly, knowing your own pace is important. It would be great if you possess all the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with all assigned work in the program. However, if you realize that you usually spend a lot of time to get particular assignment satisfactorily done, then perhaps you might need a different approach. You might need to handle your class assignment as early as possible. The program is quite demanding. It requires a lot of intensive reading, research, and assignment. If you postpone all your assignment, it will build up which you might eventually find it overwhelming to meet all the deadlines. In addition, you could examine whether you lack certain background knowledge or skills to complete the assignment. If so, you might want to take further self-study to build up the necessary background.  Secondly, you should seek help when needed. Inevitably at a particular moment in the program, you will go through a tough time when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, and perplexed. As a matter of fact, this is only seasonal and more importantly, you have a full support system. You could always seek consultation from your course instructors, the program director, and/or the relevant administrative staff. They are unbelievably supportive and approachable! Lastly, you should approach every of your academic course and assignment with utmost care and effort. With time and other constraints, it might be easy to compromise the quality of your works; nevertheless, this academic experience, though somehow challenging at times, will be one in a life time and rewarding in the future. Therefore, it is vital to produce the academic works or results that you are proud to show to your younger generation. Hopefully, my sharing will make a positive difference in your academic journey!

 

May 8, 2019
by krobin14
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Alumni Spotlight- Lee and Zach

Zach Patrick-Riley and Lee Huddleston both earned their MA degrees in LTS in 2018, and are now spending some time as teacher-trainers at Yessenov University in Kazakhstan. Below is the story of their lives so far in this new area and new job!

Zach and Lee

What are you both up to in Kazakhstan?

[Lee and Zach]: We chose to answer this question together because almost all of our professional and personal days are spent together. We are both currently Teacher Trainers here at Yessenov University, in Aktau, Kazakhstan. However, the term teacher trainer only begins to describe the variety of hats we wear on a daily basis. The Yessenov Language Center is a pilot project that started fall of 2018, so we’ve been involved in every aspect of integrating English language learning into the university curriculum. Speaking of, one of our primary tasks has been to design curriculum for A2-B2 classes. We have quite a bit of flexibility in designing the curriculum, yet at the same time, we must be conscious of all relevant stakeholders needs (i.e. a very diverse student body, teachers, administrators, our department, and more). With the help of the World Languages Department and English Philology Department, we also have designed and teach a continuing professional development course (CPD) for the Top Managers of the University that ultimately prepares them with 21st century skills and to succeed in taking the IELTS.

One of the most fun aspects of our job is being able to continue teaching in the classroom! We lead interactive teacher training workshops twice a week for two departments in which we focus on English language teaching methodological approaches. Our topics in these workshops range from Flipped Learning to the use of the L1 in the language classroom. Additionally, we also have an English Speaking Club once a week in which we lead students in fun activities while practicing functional English. Just last week we lead a great club which had the students running around the school on a scavenger hunt and creating hashtags for a few of their pictures.

Zach guest teaching the CPD course

To build capacity at the university among the teachers of two departments, we conduct weekly observations of teachers in both university and CPD courses. During these observations we offer suggestions for continuing their growth as professionals, as well as alternative ways of conducting the lessons. The teachers are generally very open to feedback and appreciate the suggestions and advice that we offer.

Finally, we serve as cultural ambassadors every day at the university. Usually we promote in an informal sense through everyday interactions with students and staff at the university. While other times we fill this role in a more formal way by speaking with media outlets and visiting government officials such as the mayor, governor, embassy officials, ministers, and even the acting president of Kazakhstan.

How did you find this position at the university?

[Lee]: My journey to Kazakhstan began when I first met Yelena Feoktistova in my LTS courses. Yelena was a Fulbright Scholar at the American English Institute at the UO in 2017-18. She observed, participated in, and presented at a variety of our classes over the year-long program. She was impressed by the strong focus our program had on language teaching methods and approaches as well as how to apply those in a real context. When she first told us about teaching in Kazakhstan, and her purpose of bringing new teaching methods to her country and university, that I might one day end up in Kazakhstan was the furthest thing from my mind. But many conversations later, I learned that Yelena would be the head of a new English language center project in Aktau and she was looking for teacher trainers to help her jump-start the program. The idea of doing teacher training and curriculum design work straight out of graduate school to me seemed like too good of an idea to pass up, I wanted to really hit the ground running in terms of applying what I learned in the LTS program. I was certainly not wrong, everyday teaching here has been full of the rewards and challenges that make teaching such a dynamic field.

Lee, Yelena, and Zach walking by the Caspian Sea

[Zach]: I first met Yelena at a CASLS meeting halfway through the LTS program. As she was a visiting Fulbright scholar, she occasionally attended CASLS curriculum meetings to learn about the innovative projects CASLS does. To be honest, when Yelena said she was from Kazakhstan, I had to check my mental world map to know exactly where that was. Needless to say, the world traveler in me was intrigued from the get-go about a region I had never been to before. As the months went on, I got to know Yelena better and learned more about the Yessenov Language Center project. My excitement about a rich cultural and professional opportunity grew and grew. I also loved the flexibility around the contract start time. Because of it, after graduating last fall I was able to go to a family reunion in the USA and backpack around Nepal and India for a couple months before starting the job. Having that time to recover after the program helped a lot in feeling ready to work hard again.

 What is a special thing or place you have discovered there?

[Lee and Zach]: THE CASPIAN SEA!!! Our Pacific Northwest Roots absolutely love it, especially as a way to relax on the weekends. We also both love the proximity of nearby countries. While here, Lee has visited Turkey, Azerbaijan, and will soon visit Georgia. Zach has visited Georgia twice (yes, he loves it there!).

Sunset photo of the Caspian Sea

[Lee]: I’ll share two things I have discovered, one is more significant, and one is more of a simple pleasure. I’ll begin with the simple one.  During my first couple of months in Kazakhstan, I experienced a sudden coffee drought. Tea is far more popular in Kazakhstan than coffee, so coffee is just less accessible here, what coffee I did find here was always instant coffee, which can still be great, but it could not fully satisfy my Oregon coffee tastes. So, what I discovered was, a particular store that sold great coffee, and I also learned how to recognize coffee as it was sold/packaged here. To my embarrassment, I quickly realized that lots of real coffee had been sitting under my nose the whole time. This leads me to my second discovery, which is that you can get around and function with a surprisingly low amount of language. I have been amazed about how quickly I have been able to read most signs in Cyrillic now, and how much I can get done while speaking little Russian. I admit that this is probably due in large part to technology like maps/google translate, but it is still fascinating to realize how much top-down understanding helps when you speak very little of the language and don’t read the script. As someone who studies language this has been a fascinating experience in a linguistic and of course a personal and professional sense.

[Zach]: One of the most special things about Kazakhstan is its diverse population and spoken languages. We interact with people originally from Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Korea, and even more nationalities on any given day. Consequently, we hear a variety of languages being spoken in the hallways. As language lovers, this is very cool! It’s also special to learn additional languages ourselves. I have focused more on learning Russian as I plan on working digitally from Russia and Georgia this fall. But learning at least some phrases in Kazakh has been a sure way to bring a smile to anyone’s face, as the language is a source of national pride, particularly in the Mangystau region.

What has been most useful from LTS while teaching there?

Lee showing his enthusiasm for teaching during a speaking club

[Lee]: I mean, honestly everything that we learned in LTS has been so useful in this context. In this job we have really been practicing each part of language teaching developed in our courses from curriculum design, to creating assessments, to teaching in our own classroom, to training others in the use of a variety of teaching approaches. Resources that we created and/or encountered during our various classes, internships and graduate employee positions have also proven invaluable as we seek to give quality materials to our teachers. Though I have not directly implemented my masters project here in this context, I have used resources from that project, and approaches that I developed in the project to help create the curriculum and design workshops for the teachers.

[Zach]: I completely agree with Lee. The breadth of skills you learn while in the LTS program have all proven extremely useful. We have used knowledge gained from every class we took and our respective Graduate Positions (Lee, AEI, and me, CASLS). Lee and I often even chat about how cool it would be to take part in those priceless LTS discussions with the experiences we’ve had here.

Any advice for current LTS students?

[Lee]: I would advise current LTS students to always be thinking about making resources/projects that are highly adaptable or appropriate for a variety of contexts, these can be resources that you can easily implement in work outside of the program. Also, though I think I said something similar in a previous blog I think it bears repeating, really do as much as you can while you are in LTS, take advantage of all the development opportunities that you can, really give your all for every project and every assignment because all of that can be directly applied in your future experiences.

[Zach]: A year ago we were in your shoes really getting into the final Master’s project, so we know how tough and challenging it is. Stay strong and believe in yourselves. You are even more capable than you believe, and you should be very proud of how much you’ve already learned and accomplished. If you ever have more specific questions, please feel free to get in touch with us directly. #LTSforlife

Yessenov University

January 9, 2019
by LTSblog
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Alumni spotlight – Kelsey

Kelsey Hertal graduated from LTS in 2015. Her project was designed with the intention of heading to Latin America, which she did but not for her expected reasons as you will see below!  The project was titled, Integrating American English Pragmatic Instruction in Tourism Training Programs in Latin America: A Materials Portfolio.

Kelsey (middle) with one of her classes in Columbia

Hi Kelsey! What have you been doing since you graduated from LTS?

My story is about how to stay patient when at first you don’t succeed, and always remember that something good might be just around the corner!

When I graduated from LTS, it took about 4 months for me to find a job. I looked everywhere (and I mean EVERYWHERE) to find a job and no language school, international school, university, or community college was ready to hire me. I remember it was incredibly discouraging and I felt that all my hard work in LTS was useless!

In November of 2015, Keli emailed me about an immediate job opening at INTO Oregon State University. They urgently needed extra teachers because of their high enrollment numbers that term. I applied and immediately received a call asking for an interview. The following day I drove to Corvallis, interviewed, got hired on the spot, and was scheduled to start teaching the next morning. The only word I have to describe that morning was chaos, as they gave me my teaching material 15 minutes before the class started. However, with my adrenaline running off the charts and my heart beating a thousand times per minute, it was one of the most amazing teaching moments of my life. LTS prepared me 110% for jumping into a teaching environment with no plan and coming up with material on the spot.

My contract at Oregon State was supposed to last 6 weeks, but at the end of the term, the students wrote a letter of recommendation to the INTO OSU administration team begging for them to keep me on the teaching staff. To my surprise, OSU offered me a contract for the next term because I “impressed” them so much with my rapport with the students. I worked as an adjunct at OSU for a year and a half, and it was more exciting and fun than any teaching job I could have imagined.

At the end of my first year, I happened to meet a Colombian recruiter at an INTO OSU end-of-year work event. To make a long story short, we fell in love (yes, I know that took you off guard!), I quit my job at OSU, and I moved to Colombia in April of 2017. As soon as I arrived in Colombia, I had an interview at Marymount School Medellin and I was hired immediately as a High School English teacher.

I started the job in the middle of the school year, and once again, had very little preparation for what I would be teaching. I truly feel like LTS prepared me to hop right in to a teaching job that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for.

We got married this past July and we’re loving the newlywed life. I’m still working at the same school and I absolutely love my job as a High School English teacher. Although I never expected to teach high school, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I am so thankful for my students, the great teaching environment, and the classes I get to teach.

What a story! What have you enjoyed most (and least) about teaching so far?

My favorite thing about teaching is being with the students. I love seeing the “lightbulbs” turn on in the students’ minds and I love seeing learning actually take place.

I have the freedom to create all my materials, lesson plans, and activities for all my classes. And not only that, each class is based on a novel. So far, I have created units on the following books: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury), Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare), What I Saw and How I Lied (Judy Blundell), My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult), and To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee). I can definitely say that teaching English through literature is the most fun thing in the entire world.

The thing I like least about teaching is dealing with unmotivated students who don’t want to learn, and as expected, I don’t love grading! 🙂

What has been something you learned while in the LTS program that you apply to your teaching now?

I learned so much in LTS that I apply to my teaching now.

  • The course on Culture, Language, and Literature (LT 528) helped me tremendously as, in my context, I teach English through literature on a daily basis in all my classes. While I was taking this class in LTS, I thought it would be really cool to teach English through literature but never thought it would be a reality for me. You never know where you’ll end up and what will actually come in handy in the future!
  • Learning how to truly write well. I can say I really learned how to write academically through completing the Master’s project. In my classes now, I teach my students academic writing, how to research, how to cite with APA format, etc. Without having put so much effort and attention to detail in my Master’s Project, I wouldn’t have been so equipped to teach this. Again, I didn’t necessarily expect that it would come in handy, but it did!
  • Like I mentioned before, through LTS, I learned how to jump into a teaching situation and figure out what to do on the spot. My teaching practicum (LT 537 Talking with Ducks) helped me with this greatly. It certainly helped me have confidence in front of a class and how to be creative without time to think.
  • Time management! As I’m sure with any Master’s program, you learn time management. However, if you don’t have time management skills, you will not survive as a teacher.

What are your hopes or plans for the future?

To be honest, I am incredibly happy where I am right now. I would like to stay here for at least two or three more years. I actually have fell in love with teaching high school English and literature, and I think maybe someday I would like to teach literature in an American high school. So far, life keeps throwing me surprises and each opportunity keeps getting better.

Do you have any advice for current and future LTS students?

To any current and future LTS students, my advice would be:

  • You may think you have an idea of what you want to teach, but life may throw you something different, and it will probably end up being better than what you could have imagined for yourself.
  • Don’t give up if you can’t find a job right after finishing your degree. Be open to any job opportunity that life may give you and when the right opportunity comes, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Be truly grateful in the workplace. I have experienced working with many grumpy and unhappy teachers. Although teaching is a hard job, if you want to survive, you have to stay positive, be thankful for the job you have, and remember the difference you are making in your students’ lives.
  • Try your best in each class in the LTS program. The topics in each class will come in handy in the future whether you can see it or not.
  • The Master’s project is a life lesson; it gives you valuable skills for life. It teaches you how to be disciplined and how to manage your time. It teaches you how to give your best when you’re exhausted and feel like you can’t keep going. These skills will help you more than you can imagine in your teaching career (and in your personal life).
  • The Master’s project gives you the opportunity to enter into the world of academia and it teaches you how to become a writer and find your voice. Recognize the importance of this and how you will use these skills in your future career.

 

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.

August 7, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni spotlight: Tiffany Van Pelt

This alumni post focuses on the international adventures of Tiffany Van Pelt, who graduated from LTS in 2015 and was one of the first students to post on our LTS social media. Here is an update of what she has been doing since then.

Tiffany with soursop

What have you been doing since you graduated from LTS?

Since I graduated I have been living and working in Libreville, Gabon in central Sub-Saharan Africa. I first came here for a 6-month internship with the Gabon-Oregon Center, then returned to work in various language schools over the last two years. I teach general English courses, English for Specific Purposes, and TOEFL preparation courses to adults and teens, and I have provided some professional development training to local English teachers enrolled at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Libreville. I also do French to English translation work.

What has been most meaningful for you about living in Gabon?

For me this answer has two aspects, the professional and the personal. Professionally, the most meaningful thing for me has been being able to work with my students over the long term and watch them improve. It’s so fulfilling to see students going on to use their English skills in their professional lives outside the classroom. 

ESC meeting July 2018

 Personally, the most meaningful thing about living here has been the ability to rebuild my fluency in French to the point where I can clearly express myself and form deeper friendships in my community. I have a BA in French from the UO, but spent about a decade without speaking it on a regular basis. It’s a dream come true to be able to live in a francophone country and regain those language skills, and I believe it helps me remain empathetic and encouraging towards my students as they work to reach their goals in English.

I hear you have an exciting new adventure coming up – could you tell us about it?

Yes! I recently accepted a position as the 2019 English Language Fellow for Madagascar. I will be leaving Libreville in January to begin work there with the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Antananarivo. I will be working with local teachers to train on implementation of a new secondary school curriculum, as well as visiting teachers around the country to provide professional development seminars. In addition to this, I’m hoping to be able to provide some extra ESP instruction to local groups as opportunities arise.

What do you hope to learn as an ELF?

I am hoping to learn how to navigate working with local governments and institutions a way that is productive and beneficial for everyone involved.  I’m also looking forward to learning from and brainstorming with the local teachers. I am excited to get their perspectives and ideas towards the implementation of pedagogical innovations in environments that may have a substantial lack of resources. 

Thanksgiving in Gabon

Now that you’ve been teaching for awhile, what do you think has been the most valuable aspect of your time in LTS?

There is very little access to English books, save for those few that are imported, in Gabon. It’s very difficult and expensive to receive shipments of goods from abroad. The curriculum and materials development experiences I had in the LTS program have been invaluable in mitigating this issue and helping me develop my personal library of teaching materials. 

Do you have any advice for current or future LTS students?

I have three pieces of advice for LTS students: first, take as many opportunities as you can to get in the classroom and practice! Second, start building your materials libraries now, (particularly if you plan to work abroad), as part of your smaller projects for classes or as part of your final project. These resources will come in handy later. Finally, take the time to cultivate and maintain friendships with the LTS community. Teaching English isn’t for everyone – much less living abroad! The friends that you make during the program will understand your passion for this profession and will be a huge source of support and community both now and in the future.

 

June 15, 2018
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Kai Liu

Kai Liu graduated from LTS in 2014 with an MA project titled Using Gamification in Chinese Teaching: A Gamified University Chinese Course for Advanced Students in the US.  She very quickly started working as a Chinese Instructor in an innovative program in one of the more beautiful places in the world… Hawai’i!  She recently stopped by in Eugene on her way home from a conference to say hello to her professors and friends. Read more about her path since LTS below.

Kai with some of her students

What is your position now?

I am the instructor of the Chinese Language Flagship Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. I develop materials and teach Flagship courses (advanced Chinese courses). I also teach beginning to intermediate-level Chinese courses at the East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL) Department at UH.

Have you been involved in any special projects and/or conferences?

I am lucky to have been involved in the Green Ideas Simulation Project  spearheaded by the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center (Tech Center). This project aims to prepare Flagship students for their internship during the Flagship Capstone Year abroad. I helped pilot this simulation project in one of my Flagship courses at UH. More specifically, I developed instructional materials on how to write resumes and cover letters in Chinese and how to prepare for job interviews in Chinese. I also created rubrics for various tasks in this project. In addition, I shared my instructional materials and pilot experience with the Tech Center and other Flagship programs. Now several Chinese Flagship Programs participate in this project each year. This project is expected to be piloted in more languages.

Kai knows how to enjoy teaching

Apart from the simulation project, I am also involved in revamping the beginning and intermediate Chinese curricula at UH. My colleagues and I are integrating blended learning and flipped classroom into these courses by creating more communicative activities, online instructional videos, and individualized learning materials.

Is there anything from your time in LTS that you still think about now?

Yes! The Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) courses are extremely useful! When I first started working at UH, I attended an online teaching orientation for faculty and I felt like I already knew how to use most of the technological tools mentioned in the orientation.

I also think about Professor Holland’s Second Language Teaching Practice class. I remember how excited both LTS students and AEI students were in a communicative class. To create the excitement I once saw in that class, I have been trying to invite more guests into my classes and provide opportunities for my students to use Chinese in local community events.

I still remember what Dr. Keli Yerian said in her commencement speech to my cohort: It is easy to fall back into traditional teaching approaches than applying what we learned in LTS to our classes. Her words serve as a daily reminder for myself to keep creating more communicative and engaging activities for my students.

How did you learn about LTS?

I first came to UO as an exchange student in the Oregon International Internship Program (OIIP). I learned about this program through Dr. Yerian and an LTS graduate Li-Hsien Yang.

Do you have any advice for current or future LTS students?

Apply what you learned in LTS program to your own classes. Challenge yourself and try new materials and new communicative activities. Do not be content with what you have.

Enjoy each other’s company and learn from each other!  I learned a great deal from other LTS students in and out of the classroom.

Keli and Kai outside Straub Hall in May

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!