LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

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!

 

November 25, 2019
by LTSblog
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Student spotlight with Dustin! (& ORTESOL 2019)

Dustin Robson is a current LTS student from right here in Eugene, Oregon. He is currently in the 2nd term of the program, and is here today to tell us a bit about himself, how he’s doing in LTS so far, and what his plans for the future are!

Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? Where have you traveled?

While originally from Long Beach, California, I’ve actually lived in Eugene for most of my life. My family moved up to Oregon when I was pretty young, so I like to consider myself a real Oregonian! I haven’t traveled as extensively as some of our cohort, but I’ve been all over the West and Midwest parts of the US (including parts of Canada and Mexico), as well as Japan and Vietnam.

Dustin (in red, standing) with friends and current/past LTS students Reagan Yu, Ngan Vu, Alina Chen, and former FLTA Amna Hassan

What made you want to join the LTS program?

 Having lived in Eugene before, I also attended the University of Oregon for my undergraduate years. I majored in Japanese, and I also earned the SLAT (Second Language Acquisition and Teaching) certificate for English. Many of those courses overlap with the LTS program, so I had the pleasure of taking courses taught by LTS faculty, and working alongside the 2017-18 cohort. I made friends with several members of that cohort, and also FLTAs (Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants) from that year, and their praise for the program and its faculty were a major factor for my decision to apply to it as well.

Between graduation and beginning the LTS program, what were you up to?

After graduating from the UO, I left to go to teach English in Vietnam, in a small town called Vũng Tàu.

Vũng Tàu

It’s a coastal city about 70 miles east of Ho Chi Minh City, known for its tourism and beaches. I chose Vung Tau to teach in as opposed to Ho Chi Minh City, because I liked the idea of working in a smaller town, and one without a large surplus of foreigners and expats teaching English. I felt that I would have more opportunities for leading my own classes, and really getting to stretch all my teaching muscles, and I also felt I would be filling a great need for the school I worked at.

The initial couple of months were very difficult getting adjusted to life in a new country, and there were many things that were quite scary at first (motorbikes and the traffic!), but I eventually was able to get into a groove with both living and teaching there. From all the chaos of those early days there, I was really able to learn a lot about myself as a teacher and as a person. Being able to work with learners as young as five years old, all the way up to 18 years old (and a few adults as well) was a terrific chance for me to develop so many skills as a teacher, and also learn lots about what I don’t know, and need to improve. Overall, the experience was absolutely essential, and a very formative journey for me.

One of Dustin’s classes

You’re in the second term of the LTS program — how has it been going so far? What have been some of the highlights up until this point?

Everything has been going well! Having lived in Eugene for years, there isn’t really any living adjustments for me, but for those in our cohort (and the FLTAs) who are new to Eugene, it has been great getting to show them around town, and see what it’s like for someone to experience life in Oregon for the first time! Recently some of us were able to get together and carve some pumpkins for Halloween, which was a wonderful (and messy) experience to share with all who were able to attend.

Aside from life in Eugene, Oregon, one of my absolute highlights from this past Summer was helping out with the Fulbright Orientation that was hosted by the UO this past August. From August 18-22 63 Fulbrighters came to Eugene to prepare for a year abroad in the US. The event had a little of everything, from panel discussions on life as an international student in the US, to games and recreation, and even a bit of microteaching! Yamada Language Center’s Jeff Magoto (and his wonderful team) helped coordinate the event, along with the assistance of many LTS faculty, and current/past members of LTS. It was a great privilege to be able to help, even in a small way, with this wonderful event, that brought people from all parts of the world together in Eugene. Many friendships were made that week, before 59 of those Fulbrighters left to other schools across the country. Four Fulbrighters stayed at UO for the year, and are in classes with many of the current LTS cohort right now. You can learn more about them here: https://babel.uoregon.edu/meet-uos-fltas

63 Fulbrighters from around the world gathered at the UO this Summer

In addition to helping with the Fulbright event, I have also been working at Yamada Language Center helping in any way that I can. I have had the pleasure of helping Director Jeff Magoto present ANVILL at two conferences so far, COFLT and recently, ORTESOL. I’m also helping run the Yamada Language Center Language Exchange program, which serves as a way for students to find others to meet up with, and share each others languages! More information on that can be found here: https://babel.uoregon.edu/language-programs/language-exchange

You mentioned ORTESOL. Could you tell us more about what that is? 

Sure! ORTESOL is a conference that was held on November 15th and 16th up in Clackamas, Oregon. As the name implies, ORTESOL is the Oregon chapter of TESOL, and the conferences have many wonderful people presenting on topics in the world of English language teaching. At this most recent conference, there were presenters from past LTS alum, teachers at AEI, and LTS faculty. I was up there helping Jeff Magoto give a presentation on interactive video (housed within ANVILL, an education platform created by an LTS alum — Norman Kerr), and its many uses within a language classroom.

Jeff Magoto, LTS faculty member and YLC Director, at ORTESOL

Any ideas on what your MA final project may look like?

 It’s still really early, we only just turned in our practice proposals! However, working with Jeff on ANVILL over the past several months, I am interested in further pursuing the idea of transforming traditional language classrooms through the use of technology. It’s still the very early stages, but that’s currently the thread that I’m pulling on the most! Ask me again in two months — my answer may have changed!

Lastly, any plans for the holidays?

 Lots of much needed rest, and time spent with friends and family. I wasn’t around for the holidays last year, so I’m looking forward to making up for lost time this year!

January 20, 2018
by Trish Pashby
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Less Commonly Taught Languages at UO’s Yamada Language Center—Meet This Year’s Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants

LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto directs University of Oregon’s Yamada Language Center. We asked him to share details about Yamada’s program offering courses in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs).

Jeff Magoto, Director of Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon

Since 1997 the Self Study Language Program (SSLP) has been a staple for UO students interested and motivated to learn LCTLs. And since 2004 more than 20 of the teachers in this special program have been Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs). They’ve come from 15 different countries and have taught Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, Korean Persian, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, Wolof, and Vietnamese. In exchange for offering the language and cultural outreach, they get the opportunity to study at the UO for a year tuition free.

The FLTA program, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department, has three goals for their scholars: to teach their language; to become more skilled and well-rounded as language teaching professionals, and to provide cross cultural outreach on behalf of the university to schools and civic organizations in the local communities where they live. Last year there were more than 400 FLTAs in the U.S.

At the UO our FLTAs are connected to three departments: the Yamada Language Center where they work, the Language Teaching Studies program where they study, and the International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) where they’re part of a team of more than 40 international students providing education and insight.

Alums of this program have followed many different paths upon completion of their year of service. Several have stayed on or subsequently returned to UO and LTS where they have completed graduate degrees. Some now have jobs at prestigious universities around the world; most return to their country and become active members of their schools and universities.

Game Night at Yamada Language Center

In a time of limited funding for language study, there probably wouldn’t be an SSLP program without the FLTAs. UO students are deeply appreciative of the opportunities that the SSLP offers and the energy that their tutors bring to their intimate classrooms. Cultural learning is embedded in all that they do.

This year’s FLTAs, Amna Hassan from Pakistan, Henry Rusasa from Tanzania, and Thanaporn (Som-oh) Sripakedee from Thailand, have a busy term ahead of them. Besides taking one class in LTS/Linguistics, each will teach or assist in two classes, and give 1-2 public talks or presentations per week in the community. We interviewed them to find out more about how their year at UO is going.

What have you learned from the experience of teaching at Yamada? 

Amna: My teaching experience at the Yamada Language Center is totally different from the teaching experiences I had in Pakistan. I learned different teaching methodologies and techniques in the past three months which will be very helpful in my teaching career. I learned how to make learning fun for your learners by using activities in class. And realized that this way learners can learn better rather than the classical method which we use in our country. I learned teaching is not about translating the second language into first language, solving exercises or cramming vocabulary words. Language can be taught and learned in many different ways. I am still learning from my colleagues and mentors, and my teaching experience so far is an eye-opening experience.  I am ready to learn more.

Henry Rusasa, Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) from Tanzania

Henry: I have learned a lot! I have learned new ways of teaching a second language. I also learned the activities I can use to make the lessons very interesting in the class. I learned the use of technological devices and having a backup plan when there is a technological glitch. I also learned how to prepare the best slides for the lesson and how to make sure that the lesson is taught timely as planned. And my English language competence has improved.

Som-oh: I always learn from my students. Teaching at YLC, the students come with their motivations for learning Thai. One of my students loves to listen and think before they speak, which has taught me to slow down my lesson. Another 65-year-old student taught me that nobody is too old to learn. He is a community member and he always keeps reflecting his learning experience through Anvil, the interactive media program created by Jeff Magoto, where we have cultural interaction every week. Through Anvil, I have learned to use outside sources such as songs, advertisements and movie trailers to build up a good lesson with my students. Secondly, I have learned to be kind and hardworking. Working at YLC allows me to meet my wonderful colleagues. Both my supervisors, Jeff and Harinder, believe in our potential as tutors. They give great support and advice every time we need it and they are very good listeners. Looking at how they work, they really give great attention and care to what they are doing. With these good examples, I have learned to adapt these with my students as well.

 What have you enjoyed most about teaching at Yamada?

Amna: First of all, I have enjoyed the classes and the technology most. It makes teaching more interesting and fancy. Second of all, teaching is topic-based and not curriculum-based. So, I don’t have to worry about finishing the syllabus in the limited time. Last but not least, I enjoy working at the Yamada because Yamada is home.

Amna Hassan from Pakistan with Jeff Magoto

Henry: I enjoy the cooperation I get from my students. They have a real sense of humor and a great desire to learn Swahili language. This makes it easier for me to share with them my language skills and cultural experience, from which they gain the competence and confidence in using Swahili language to communicate. Their curiosity in learning new words, phrases and tenses bring them to me many times and am always happy to help them. In some of these moments I am always impressed to hear new ideas, words, grammar and tenses which they have discovered themselves. This lightens up the spirit of teaching and learning in the class.

Som-oh: I have enjoyed working in the environment around YLC with its diversity of languages and people. I have met many unique people from around the world: Spain, Nepal, Turkey, Italy, America, etc. I can say that YLC is a great place to learn languages of the world. I believe that this environment promotes understanding towards diversity.

LTS really likes having FLTAs in their classes. What are your feelings about taking courses with LTS students?

Amna: I think FLTAs are lucky to be a part of LTS classes. At first, the class environment and the teaching was all Greek to me because of different teaching and culture compared to my country. But soon I started to enjoy it. LTS faculty and cohort is full of amazing, intelligent and funny people. I love them all.

Henry: I have enjoyed every course I have taken with the LTS students. I can say they are an amazing group of students you can find at the University of Oregon. We have had time to share our cultural and language experiences in a funny way both in class and outside the class. They understand the challenges non-native speakers of English face, and from time to time they help one speaker by making some corrections and suggestions on grammar or the structure of the sentence carefully without offending the speaker. This makes everyone free to air his or her views and participate in the class activities confidently. This teamwork spirit and an understanding we have makes us remain friends even after finishing the course.

Som-oh Sripakadee from Thailand (right) with LTS students Ngan Vu (left) and Rebekah Wang (center)

Som-oh: LTS students aren’t only my classmates but we have also become friends outside the classroom. Taking LT 528 allowed me to get to know teacher-friends and share our teaching passions through projects and discussions. Moreover, the instructor, Trish, provided us with activities to get to know each other better. For example, writing about my discourse community which helped me to get to know other classmates who are interested in the same discourse. From there, I went to see one of my classmate’s Frisbee games. This opened my eyes to a different community in Eugene. Another great experience was to share our international dinners, brunches during the term and after we finished the course. Not many classes I have experienced were like this, and I am hoping to be in an LTS class once again.

It was a pleasure learning from Jeff Magoto about LCTLs at Yamada Language Center and checking in with the current FLTAs teaching Hindi/Urdu, Swahili and Thai. Next week, the LTS blog will feature Yamada’s Vietnamese teacher–Ngan Vu–who is also a student in the LTS MA program.

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