LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

October 14, 2017
by zachp
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Spanish Language Learning APP LingroToGo!

Check out today’s post about a revolutionary Spanish language learning application called LingroToGo. Featured is Dr. Julie Sykes–our very own LTS faculty member and Director of CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies)–along with a couple LTS students who have worked on the app.

Dr. Julie Sykes presenting to the LTS cohort about CASLS and LingroToGo

Julie, thank you so much for joining us today. Please share with us what makes this APP so special:

LingroToGo is the first comprehensive app that explicitly targets language learning strategies, pragmatics, and function-based language learning. Moving beyond the translation of words and phrases, the app really helps people work on how to use the words and structures they learn in a meaningful way.

What about the pragmatic component of it?

Pragmatics really focuses on the exchanges of meaning and the avoidance of miscommunication whenever possible. It is exciting to see pragmatic components of language treated systematically throughout the app.

And there’s video too?

Yep. There are a robust set of videos that focus on strategies and pragmatics, the two pieces of a language learning curriculum which are often not seen in teaching and learning materials.

Awesome! And just curious, where did the name LingroToGo come from?

The Lingro part of the name comes from our collaborative partner, Lingro Learning and the ToGo piece parallels the name of one of our other tools, LinguafolioToGo, a comprehensive e-portfolio designed for language classroom.

LTS (2017) alum Dan White, who developed the Cryptogram feature of the Lingro App as his Master’s Project, had this to say about his time working on Lingro: “The Lingro App was a very fortuitous opportunity for me, as I was hoping to find a project that revolved around creating a game or puzzle for language teaching. I had never done app development before, but I was familiar with coding. Fortunately, Julie gave me the opportunity, and the app development team were very patient with me as I learned how to develop the Cryptogram. I was so pleased that my contribution made it into the final product, and it really stands out when you are using the app as one of the most challenging features. I can take this app development experience with me in the future, and I look forward to developing my own language apps.”

Current LTS student and CASLS GE (Graduate Employee) Zach Patrick-Riley: “This app is simply revolutionary. It does a perfect job of showing what 21st century education should include; not just a focus on language but strategies for successful interpersonal communication and autonomy building. My favorite part has to be the videos in each section. Maybe I am a little biased because I have helped create a number of them, but they are so fun and engaging to watch! Seriously, check out this app, te va a encantar y aprender español muy rápido.”

Other LTS students who have contributed to this app include Christopher Daradics (2016) and Valeria Ochoa (2017).

LingroToGo is available for download for IOS right now @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lingrotogo/id1273904866?mt=8

Android is coming very soon as well! In fact, if you would like to take part in Beta testing please sign up here:  https://goo.gl/forms/VSGlmNBIfBS26yL13

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

 

Farewell to your ‘Inauthentic Chinese’: A Materials Portfolio for Improving CFL Learners’ Pragmatic Competence by Heidi Shi

 

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.

May 16, 2017
by LTSblog
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Alumni Spotlight Hortensia Gutierrez

Hortensia Gutierrez graduated from LTS in 2014 with an MA project titled Teaching Forms of Address in Chilean Spanish to U.S. College Students. She worked at the American English Institute (AEI) for a few years before applying for her PhD studies in Spanish Linguistics.

Hortensia on the Georgetown campus, where she will pursue her PhD

Tell us about your good news about the next 5 years!

I am about to start a PhD in Spanish Linguistics at Georgetown University and I am very excited to start this new path in my professional life! During 2016 I had many experiences that pushed me to take this important step. I applied to six programs around the country and I was accepted to four of them with full funding for five years: University of Arizona, Indiana University, State University of New York Albany, and Georgetown University. My final decision to go to Georgetown was based on the faculty, the professional opportunities (outside the regular ones that any PhD program offers), and the solid instruction in all the areas of linguistics. In addition, I had two emotional factors to include: the fact that our beloved Keli Yerian is an former student of GU and the professional life of my husband.

Why did you decide to go on to a PhD? How did your experiences in LTS and otherwise lead you to this path?

I grew up in an academic environment that shaped my way of seeing life, learning to love questions and showing others my findings. At first, I became a high school teacher and I taught physics for more than 4 years in Chile, but it wasn’t until I came to the US that I found my true passion for linguistics: I liked physics, but I love teaching languages. For that reason, I decided to study in the LTS program and it changed my life. I believe that the first moment I thought about continuing my studies was when I started to work on my MA project. I was so passionate about the social and political aspects of language that I decided that I wanted to go deeper. I know that in the next five years I will find what I am looking for and more, and that makes me really happy.

What will be your areas of focus during your PhD?

During my M.A., I wanted to study the suppression of certain Spanish variation features in the traditional classroom, caused by linguistic ideologies in Latin America. Now, for my doctoral studies I would like to explore the dynamics of linguistic ideologies in areas of language contact. For example, I am interested in what happens when Mapudungun, a language spoken by the Mapuche community, is in contact with Chilean Spanish. This contact reveals elements that I would like to explore, such as bilingualism, heritage learners of Mapudungun, language revitalization, and the teaching of Mapudungun to the general population, among others. My ultimate professional goal is linked to my personal core value that pushed me to study Education in the first place: to use my research and work in academia to empower communities, encouraging people to understand and protect their identity.

Is there any advice you would give to current or future LTS graduate students?

People have different goals in life and different ways of reaching them, but I believe there is one fundamental element that is important to achieve them, and that is the passion for what you are doing. So if you want to teach languages or research languages, remember to always give your best.

January 26, 2017
by LTSblog
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LTS Alumni spotlight: Shannon Ball

Shannon in a moment of grammar teaching

Shannon Ball graduated from LTS in 2014 with a focus on teaching English. Her MA Project was titled Teaching Adult Community ESL through Children’s Literature and she now works full time at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. Shannon is an example of someone whose MA Project focus led her directly to a position that allows her to apply what she learned and created.

Where are you working now and what are you teaching?

I work at Lane Community College as an ESL instructor, an ESL Student Services Specialist, and an ESL Assessment Specialist. I love doing all of these jobs, because I get to know ALL of the students in the program, and not just the ones in my classes. I usually teach the low-beginning levels, but am currently teaching Writing and Grammar C, which is the third level of six in our Main Campus IEP. I love every minute of it!

What do you like best about what you do?

Just one thing?! I could really go on and on about what I like best about this job. The reason I got into this work in the first place was that I have a strong desire to contribute meaningfully to my community. The people who come through our program are active members of our community, and the benefits of their enrollment in our program are innumerable. When our students learn, they help other similar members of the community (their friends and family) by teaching them what they have learned and by encouraging them to come to the program as well. They get better jobs, which helps their families and the economy. They are able to participate more fully in the English-based education of their children by communicating better with teachers and engaging and helping with their school work. The effects go on and on. Another thing that I love about teaching to this community is that they come in highly motivated. They are so eager to learn, and to share what they already know with each other. I also love watching the relationships that my students develop. I had a couple of students last year who were different in every way: age (one was 21 and the other 63), culture, country of origin, L1, etc. But they sat together and helped each other in class, studied together after class, and spent time together on weekends, and the most amazing thing is knowing they are using English the whole time because it is their only common language. It’s a truly authentic application of the things they learn in the program, and it motivates them to learn even more!

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching (or life) now?

I think the most valuable thing I learned and honed in the program was to connect every aspect of your lessons to a common purpose or objective. Always asking, and encouraging your students to ask, why you are doing a certain activity promotes active learning. Class time seems so limited that you need to plan well and make the most of every minute!

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

Take every opportunity you possibly can to volunteer, intern, or do a graduate teaching fellowship while you are in school. I know grad school is a very busy time, but this can both valuably inform your coursework and provide authentic hands-on experience. A lot of US schools tend to require a minimum of two years of classroom teaching experience, so it is also good for your resume! My other piece of advice is to make the program work for you. LTS is such a flexible program and really allows for creativity and encourages innovation. If you have an idea, go for it!

August 10, 2016
by Annelise Marshall
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Class of 2016: What’s Next?

sparkle

The class of 2016–with special guest Sparkle– after the final day of the symposium

LTS graduates go on to work all over the world, work with various levels and ages, and teach a variety of languages. Here are some of the positions that the class of 2016 have been offered:

Katie: I will be going to Oaxaca, Mexico, to work in the language department of a local university as a teacher/researcher and eat lots of enchiladas.

Siri: I’m going to resume my work at the Royal Thai Armed Forces Language Institute, Thailand.

John: I will be teaching Spanish part-time at our local high school (Triangle Lake) and teaching German part-time at Gutenberg College, a small private college here in Eugene.

Emily:  I will be teaching in Bangkok, Thailand.

Sara: I am heading to a Chinese and ESL teaching position for elementary third grade students in a public school in Beaverton, OR. I will be teaching Chinese and English language arts and other immersion program subjects in Chinese, such as Math and Science. I am excited to be heading to this wonderful opportunity.

Kateland: I’m going to be teaching in Indonesia with the Peace Corps for two years starting in March, 2017. I will be in a rural secondary school in either East or West Java, where I will co-teach English with an Indonesian counterpart, as well as take part in community and youth development.

Annelise: I’ll be teaching English at a university in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I will hopefully also get to be involved in curriculum design.

Christopher: I’ll be working as a Research Associate at CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies) on a virtual reality language app. Yay!

Anna: I’ll be teaching middle school ELA at a Cambodia international school (where the student population is 90% Cambodian).

Keisuke: I will be moving back to Portland and going back to Mt. Tabor Middle School where I spent 17 years prior to becoming a proud LTSer. What an amazing year – even better than I could have imagined!

 

April 27, 2016
by LTSblog
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Preparing for life after LTS

Summer is just around the corner! It’s the time of year in LTS where students are thinking about The Great Beyond: applying for teaching or other professional language-related positions after graduation. Here are some of the tips and resources we share in LTS:

  • Get plugged in to professional organizations in the field. Professional organizations are great resources for job leads and information. We keep a list of these organizations for LTS students on our LTS google site.
  • Build an online portfolio, starting with the creative work from your first classes (statements of teaching philosophies, lesson plans, materials collections, course design…). LTS students start adding to their online portfolios in the second term of the program.
  • Attend and present at conferences. LTS students have attended several conferences this year, and can apply for a $500 award for presenting at one.
  • Publish your ideas, even the brief ones! CASLS has been publishing good activity ideas on InterCom, and one of the Assessment class assignments asks students to prepare a review to submit to TESOL-EJ, for example.
  • Hone your professional communication skills, both in classes and out of them. The LTS program has developed a one-of-a-kind set of online resources called “On the Path to Language Teaching” that includes example cover letters and resumes in our field, as well as an extensive set of mock-interview videos made by our faculty, students, and alumni (the image below is a screenshot from the homepage). These videos include commentaries on the interviews by language and career professionals – a great way to see if your own reactions line up with those who are doing the hiring!
  • Practice, practice, practice! The LTS program is certainly hands-on. Students in the program can pursue multiple teaching internships and take supervised teaching courses that provide substantial feedback and support. They can also work closely with international UO students as tutors and conversation partners, or develop curriculum or assessment ideas through internships at CASLS. All of these experiences look great on a resume.
  • Take advantage of LTS connections to potential employers and internship sites. LTS has a growing network of connections to language teaching institutes, schools, and universities in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, for example, and also keeps in touch about more local position openings. Alumni and current students both can stay in touch to hear about these opportunities.
  • Finally, develop your relationships with peers, faculty, and other mentors while you are in the program. Your peers of today will be your colleagues and your network of tomorrow, and are invaluable as such. LTS fosters a strong cohort support system that students themselves maintain with gusto. Also stay in touch with faculty after graduation; they will remain a source of support for you for a long time!

Although the LTS program is only 15 months long, it is packed full of vitamins and nutrients to help you keep going for the long haul. Bon appetit! — Keli Yerian

Screenshot 2016-04-27 11.48.22

Screenshot from homepage of online interview video materials for LTS students

 

 

February 16, 2016
by megt
1 Comment

LTS Alumni Spotlight: Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay DeLand graduated from the LTS Program in 2014 and immediately began teaching in Japan. Her MA project was titled “Graphic Novels as Motivating Authentic Texts for Adult English Language Learners”.

Graduation Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay (on right) on commencement day 2014 at the University of Oregon with cohort members Richard Niyibigira and Sejin Kim.

Where are you working now, and what are you teaching?

I work at Tokyo International University in Kawagoe, Japan. I teach mostly speaking and listening skills to Japanese undergraduate students, but I also teach an academic composition class to international undergraduates from a number of different countries. It’s a blast!

Kyoto Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay in Japan

What do you like best about what you do?

I love that I get to make so many meaningful relationships with so many amazing students. For me, all the interaction with different people is the best part of the teaching job. I’ve learned a lot from my students, and I’ve gotten to watch them learn and grow a lot as well.

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching (or life) now?

I learned how to design a curriculum, which has been invaluable to me since starting at TIU. Before the LTS program, I wouldn’t have had any idea how to go about planning a class when you’re just given a textbook and total freedom! It’s still a challenge for me, but I’m improving with practice, and I’m grateful for the foundation in curriculum design I got at Oregon.

Poster Presentation Lindsay DeLand

Lindsay presenting her action research at Thailand TESOL International this year.

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

Both while you’re a graduate student and when you become a full-time teacher, remember to make time for yourself on top of your work and studies. Teaching is a great job but it’s also very stressful and can be all-consuming. If you don’t find a way to balance a healthy and happy personal life on top of your work life, work will feel a lot harder! When I was an LTS student, I often studied with friends from my cohort to make the workload feel easier, and we regularly got together for fun to keep each other sane. Now, even when my semesters are busy, I make sure to do at least one fun and rewarding activity a week, like exploring a new part of Tokyo or just spending time with friends. It helps me refresh my brain so I can better tackle my job!

February 2, 2016
by megt
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LTS Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Chen-Mao Wang

Daniel Chen-Mao Wang graduated from the LTS program in 2008. His project was titled “Rethinking the Teaching of Beginning Reading: The Role of Reader’s Theater in the Taiwanese EFL Curriculum”.

Daniel (center) with his cohort in 2008

Why did you originally decide to study in the US?

Before I applied to the LTS program in 2008, I had been teaching in a public elementary school for a few years with a BA degree in Language and Literature Education in Taiwan. After a few years of mundane teaching that literally drained my inspiration, I started to look for graduate studies to both enrich my teaching career and energize my life of learning as a practicing teacher. The LTS program at the UO stood out as one of few programs that catered to my needs. The quarterly system guaranteed me very intensive five-term solid training and studying that my home country could never offer. When I read and compared many graduate programs, few addressed both the pedagogical and theoretical issues at the same time in their plan of graduate studies. While the course titles of many distinguished TESOL programs mostly featured on the theoretical issues, few stressed the pedagogical phase of language learning. With an educational background, I was certain that I wanted to be a practitioner but yet undecided for a theoretical route. Therefore, the LTS program gave me greater flexibility to take the courses I was interested in as a language trainer. Meanwhile, as LTS was in a Linguistics Department, this enabled me to associate with PhD students and participate in Professor Susan Guion Anderson’s advanced second language acquisition class. Although the LTS program was not fully research-based, the practical but research-oriented program design laid the groundwork for later research-based projects and presented me with opportunities to observe, learn, and experience a “scaffolded, elicited, and formative” language learning class. This helped me a great deal in my current job as an EFL elementary school teacher and adjunct assistant professor at the National Kaohsiung Normal University.

Where and what are you teaching now?

Less than half a year after graduating from the UO, I began the journey of being a full-time teacher and doctoral student at National Kaohsiung Normal University. I was fortunate enough to establish all the ground work at the UO with LTS and LING, and this experience has made me who I am now. My doctoral dissertation, titled “Effectiveness of a Reader’s Theater Project on English Silent Reading and Prosodic Reading Performance of Sixth-graders in Southern Taiwan”, took root in the framework of the project I did in the LTS program and used the phonetic analysis tool, Praat, that Dr. Pashby introduced in her pronunciation class.

Daniel in a recent photo with his family

Currently, with a PhD in TESOL, I also work with Taiwanese local college students teaching them Freshman English. The days nourished by the LTS program become the nutrients. The LTS program gave students the open space to develop and experiment with their teaching ideas, innovative or extended. In addition, the cohort format made us learn from each other, brainstorm many great ideas, and work all angles to possibly solve the issues language teachers faced on a day-to-day basis. Serving as a teacher of college students, I now still go back to my graduate assignment work to seek inspiration and I still keep in mind the very lesson that LTS taught me so well—analyzing students’ learning needs. Without the nourishment of LTS, I cannot imagine being the person I am now.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the pleasure of teaching because I like to associate with people and especially with students. Many people regarded teaching jobs as repetitious and laborious, while I appreciate the beauty of individual difference and students’ willingness to learn and improve. Last year, I had classes with first-graders up to college freshmen. They were a huge range in population, but I experience the fun and joy to see the spark in their eyes when they find language learning interesting and are willing to go the extra mile to learn with the teacher. As a language teacher, I can always practice what I believe, and experiment with all kinds of variables to motivate my students and enhance their proficiency in English as a global language.

Looking back, what do you think was most valuable about your time in Oregon and LTS?

Three things stick to my mind during the days I was in Oregon: a) the live language teaching observations, b) the freedom to choose interesting courses from other departments, and c) the supportive learning and advising atmosphere.

To begin with, I benefited so much by writing observation journals about many language teaching classes. Given the privilege to sit in class and observe what the teacher did, I witnessed how language teachers deal with the teaching issues with students at different language levels and with different language backgrounds. I ended up observing very diverse types of language classes: Howard Elementary School’s reading class, a South Eugene High School’s English literature class, and a college-level CFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language) class. It was as good as I could wish for—to see what is demonstrated in a real class—more effective than any workshop or lecture could have been.

Secondly, I adored being given a few flexible time slots to take courses from other departments. I remembered that I attended a pedagogical grammar class, a culture diversity class, and a statistics class offered by the School of Education. Those classes required me to interact with the native speaking college students on education-related issues and develop educational professionalism. This experience enriched my career path and helped me become not only a professional “language teacher” but also a professional “educator”.

Lastly, the supportive learning environment in UO and LTS has made this adventure rewarding and worth admiring. Looking back, I enjoyed the time to work with the international cohort and hang out with each other outside the campus. The combination of students in LTS was like no other on campus. It was made up of experienced teachers, students with language learning interests, and ESL teacher wanna-bes, NNS or NS alike. Because of this mix, a lot of negotiation was involved. You needed to pay attention to listen, mentally process, comprehend, clarify, and then react to others in the classes because they were from all different backgrounds. Each person interpreted things in a different way. To be participatory, you had to put yourself into their shoes, consider from their perspectives to understand what they were trying to express, and then provide your own opinions. But the beautiful thing was: the more positively you interacted with one another, the better and closer relationship you built with your cohort. We felt like a family in this foreign country and the camaraderie support brought us together. A similar positive atmosphere was also between the teachers and the students. I always valued, although scared to death at that moment, the advisory office hours with each faculty member. The teachers did feel distant and authoritative; they were actually very helpful and considerate. They offered academic advice, helped clarify some thoughts on studies, suggested directions to do a term paper, etc. I talked to most of the teachers privately in office hours and I guaranteed what I say is true. The friendliness and thoughtfulness was not something you could only find in your imagination. It was genuinely felt.

What advice would you give to current or future LTS students?

LTS seems to be a program that is too good to be true. However, you have to keep in mind that this is a five-quarter program. Basically, you will have to squeeze the length and endure the intensity of five semesters into 15 months in order to fulfill all the requirements. Some take longer than 15 months to accomplish it. In order to make the most of your time and enjoy the intensity, my suggestions are:

  1. Start early to collect research literature that interests you.
  2. Frequent the library and establish your personal teacher resource library.
  3. Read the assigned readings and be a productive contributor in classes.
  4. Take advantage of every opportunity to make friends (or to know more people).
  5. Experiment with what you believe is feasible in your future language classes and explore it with back up literature.

With all these things to do in fifteen months, this short journey is going to be like a sealed time capsule—it will store valuable and memorable events and keep you rejuvenated every time you look back!

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