LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

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.

 

July 21, 2018
by LTSblog
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Keli Yerian in South Africa

LTS faculty often travel internationally as part of their work, since language teaching and learning is often very connected to international interactions. This week’s blog feature’s LTS Director Keli Yerian’s unusually far-reaching travel this past week in early July – to the southern tip of Africa in Capetown.

A sculpture of Mandela made of beads

Why were you visiting Capetown?

My research interests are in language and gesture, particularly in how language teachers learn to use their bodies as an integral part of language teaching when the learning context is face-to-face. There is an association called the International Society for Gesture Studies that holds a conference every two years, and this year it was held in South Africa.

Marion and Keli

Did you present at the conference?

This time I presented with my colleague from France, Marion Tellier, which whom I am co-authoring some comparative  research studies with data from our program in LTS, and the MA teacher education program she directs in France. We are noticing some similar patterns of gesture development in both programs, as well as some contrasts that may be related to differing educational and cultural contexts. We are both very interested in how typical co-speech gesture becomes more stylized and conventionalized in specific ways when used in pedagogical situations for depicting content and for serving pragmatic purposes in interaction. Unfortunately we forgot to ask someone to take a photo of us presenting, so I can’t show one here!

Sitting at the top of Lion’s Head – what a climb!

Did you do anything else in Capetown?

For most of the conference, we were always in the same conference hotel. Breakfasts and lunches were all provided there. Unfortunately, exploring around the city after dark was not safe in the heart of the city, so we only went out to dinner in groups to nearby places. The legacy of apartheid was very apparent all around us, and safety issues were just one aspect of this. It was only about 25 years ago that explicit discrimination was ended in South Africa (people of color were denied equal rights in most imaginable ways), and one generation is not enough to change the effects of racism and unequal access to resources and opportunities. We were lucky to meet a few South Africans who talked to us quite frankly about this legacy, which we appreciated.

This is what it looked like climbing up Lion’s Head

vigilant birds of paradise

We did spend the last days combining work with fun trips. Some of us hiked to the top of Lion’s Head, which involved literally climbing up ladders built into the cliffs and pulling yourself up chains, and we visited an animal reserve where we saw lions, cheetahs, giraffes, and elephants. We also went to the very end of the cape – the tip of the continent of Africa – that was impressive! Finally, we visited the famous botanical gardens. The birds of paradise flowers looked like a flock of cranes peering out of the bushes.

It was the middle of winter there, so the weather was cool. Luckily the country had recently had some good rain; there was a water crisis before we arrived that was better by the time we were there, but we still took 30 second showers and didn’t let faucets run. It made me really appreciate the delicious water here in Eugene.

Did I mention the penguins? Yes, penguins in Africa.

I doubt I’ll ever return there, but if any of you get the chance, I recommend it!

March 16, 2017
by gkm
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Student Spotlight – Valeria Ochoa

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? Where have you studied? Any hobbies?

I was originally born in S. Lake Tahoe, California but have spent most of my life in Las Vegas, NV. To stay close to home, I decided to attend the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. I got my B.A. in Romance Languages (French and Spanish). During my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Pau, France and Heredia, Costa Rica. Both of these experiences studying abroad have helped to shape who I am now and fuel my love of language learning/teaching. It also helps that I love to travel (hard to find a language teacher that doesn’t), and I sincerely enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds. One more fun fact about myself is that I love watching/playing soccer. Go FCB!

You’re a GE for the Romance Languages department. What is that like?

Yes, for the past two terms I have taught first-year intensive Spanish. This course is intensive in that the students have already had at least two years of Spanish learning experience, so the class moves through the units quicker than if it were a class of true beginners. This upcoming term I am going to be teaching Spanish 203, so it will be interesting to see how much the learners are expected to know from the end of first year until this point. I look forward to being pleasantly surprised.

Teaching Spanish here at the UO has been insightful, but honestly quite exhausting at times. Balancing your personal needs and the needs of your students can get pretty tricky, but when you see how much your students are progressing, it makes the whole thing worthwhile. Teaching while doing LTS at the same time is not for the weak-hearted; however, I do think it serves as an invaluable experience in which you can directly apply what you are learning in LTS to a real class.

Can you tell us a little about the ideas for your Master’s project?

My master’s project is going to be a teaching portfolio for Spanish Heritage Language Learners (SHLLs). I am currently looking into creating activities that integrate service-learning, since heritage learners often report learning their heritage language for the purpose of connecting to their family members and their communities. As a SHLL myself, this project is especially important to me because I want to create a teaching portfolio that not only promotes language proficiency and community engagement, but that encourages heritage learners to value the knowledge they already have as rich and important. So far it has been extremely interesting and kind of fun to research these topics. I cannot wait to start the process of actually creating the activities!

Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose the LTS program? What are you looking forward to doing in your remaining time in the program?

Unfortunately, UNLV does not have a Linguistics department, and I was set on doing something related to linguistics for graduate school, so that meant I had to start looking for a place that suited me. Lucky for me, while searching through program after program, I ended up meeting my now fellow cohort companion, Becky Lawrence, on Facebook through mutual interests. After she explained that everything she was learning was directly applicable to real language teaching situations, I was convinced LTS was the place for me. I have not regretted my decision since. Many of my peers in other departments often tell me how they wish they would have done LTS rather than what they are doing. It feels good to know that I am in the right place.

One thing I am looking forward to doing is starting the process of collecting information from heritage learners and teachers for my master’s project. I want to know what they enjoy and do not enjoy about their SHL classes. I want to find ways to satisfy the needs of these learners, since we know their needs are different from that of L2 learners. It should hopefully be an enlightening and satisfying process.

 

Video Blog Update!

Valeria returns to update us on her GE experience, switching from teaching 1st-year Spanish to leading the 2nd-year course. She also shares with us how her project focus has evolved since joining the Master’s project class this Spring term!

January 28, 2016
by Annelise Marshall
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Student Spotlight: Juli

Juli was made in Ohio (specifically Casstown & Athens), but bits of France and now Oregon have more recently begun to run through her blood.  She’s on a quest to sharpen her Banagram-playing, language-teaching, French-speaking, bread-making and distance-running skills.

Juliblog

“This was taken at the bed & breakfast I WWOOFed (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) at in France. Odette, the owner, and I are in the finishing stages of making jam. The couple behind the camera were fellow WWOOFers, Kanji and Misaki, from Japan. For us, the kitchen served as an epicenter of soaking up new languages, new perspectives, new laughs. It was ultimately memorable exchanges like these that guided me to pursuing a Master’s in language teaching.”

What is your GTF context and how has that experience supported you in LTS?
I am a Writing Learning Assistant GTF with Services for Student Athletes; I work with student athletes and provide writing support. Several of the students I work with are international student athletes.  I help these students develop their English language skills as well as their writing skills. Although it’s different from a traditional language classroom, the GTF position provides hands-on language teaching experience, which in turn, has enhanced and supported my experience in the LTS program. This opportunity blends all of my interests & is one for which I am truly grateful.
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What has been most rewarding about your GTF?
Integrating content learned in the LTS program with my work as a GTF, and bringing my experiences as a GTF to the classroom has been the most rewarding part of this combination. I am challenged because the context in which I work is unique; before applying a concept learned from the LTS program I have to ask “Will this work for my students? What adaptations can be made to meet their needs?”.  Problem solving like this is fun.
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What are you most excited about for your remaining time in the program?
There are three things I am most excited about for the remainder of the program:

1. Continuing to grow with and learn from the 2015-2016 cohort.  Having taken the 2-year option, I entered into the program late. A delayed arrival didn’t stop the group from warmly welcoming me in.  It was similar to entering the home of your Italian relative: before you have time to slip off your shoes, Italian gravity is pulling you toward engulfing hugs, a slew of questions and a big plate of spaghetti. The LTS cohort is stellar. Period.

2. Expanding my knowledge of all things language & teaching related over the next 4.5 terms.  There’s so much to learn!

3.  Continuing LTSEOTT (LTS Eye of the Tiger running group (yes, we took a little linguistic liberty here)).  The cohort started meeting for weekly runs this term, and it has undoubtedly become the highlight of my week. We are constantly engaging in an environment where we are working our minds. I find it refreshing to meet outside of that context to one where we challenge our bodies. We get to know each other in a more complete way. Just like in the classroom, every LTSer brings something unique to the track & has a specific purpose for being there.  Everyone is fearless, willing to take risks and is seeking to improve. That makes the energy great & delicious & simply put, fun!

July 28, 2015
by LTSblog
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Faculty Spotlight Brian Barnett

Could you tell us a little bit about your connection to the LTS program? 

I became connected to the LTS program while being the Director of French Language Instruction in the Department of Romance Languages at the U of O.  My academic background is in French and language education, so I wanted to find additional opportunities to work with students and faculty dedicated to language pedagogy. My profile is somewhat different from most other LTS faculty members as I bring a perspective of an experienced language educator working in the field of FL instruction (French) within the United States. Currently, I am the Director of the First-Year Language Program in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics at Indiana State University.  I teach first- through third-year French courses, supervise graduate students teaching first and second semester courses for all languages (German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, etc.), and teach in the graduate program in linguistics. I have remained involved with LTS from a distance by working with students’ final projects and teaching the summer capstone seminar (LT 610) in some years.

Could you briefly describe the course(s) you teach?

I have taught two different courses in the LTS program. The first is LT 536 Second Language Teaching.  This course gives students a solid foundation in developing lessons plans for their particular teaching contexts.  The culminating assignment is quite practical as it requires students to design a unit of at least three sequenced lesson plans that is grounded in current pedagogical theory and practice; this is a task that future teachers will encounter in the classroom.  The second course is LT 610 Language Teaching Seminar in Summer terms.  This 4-week seminar is taught with variable topics.  My class has been organized with three modules focusing on learning styles and strategies: (a) exposure to different learning styles and strategies and their classifications, (b) frameworks for Styles- and Strategies- Based Instruction and how to incorporate this approach to your lesson plans, and (c) teacher action research through collection of style and/or strategy data from students.

What do you like best about working with LTS students?  

[note: despite the background, no wine was consumed during the making of this video]

 

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