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 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.
Tera is a current student who is enrolled in LTS as a concurrent degree with her Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature. Her MA project focuses on the integration of postcolonial and diasporic literature in university ESL courses.
Tera in Valence, France where she taught English for a year
What inspired you to do an MA in LTS?
I decided to do an MA in LTS after two years as an Italian GE in the Department of Romance Languages. I’m completing my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and I’ve loved being able to teach both language and literature classes at UO. I applied to the LTS program because I wanted to develop a more comprehensive knowledge of SLA and best practices in the language teaching field. LTS has also empowered me to better understand and articulate my own philosophy for teaching in a foreign language. And I’ve enjoyed taking LT classes while teaching French this year, because it has encouraged me to be a more reflective teacher every day.
You have learned and taught more than one second language – what have you enjoyed most about these experiences?
I feel very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to experience different language teaching contexts and approaches as both a learner and an instructor. Last year, I taught English at a high school in France and the teachers I worked with requested that I not tell the students I speak French so that they would be forced to communicate with me in English. It was a rare opportunity for me to teach my native language in a context where all the students shared an L1 that was my L2. As a French and Italian instructor at UO, I’ve primarily taught students who share my L1 and are acquiring an L2. In these contexts, I can share my own L2 experiences with my students (i.e. my very clear memory of being introduced to the French subjunctive for the first time!) and brainstorm with them strategies for maximizing exposure to these languages while living in the U.S. In the summer of 2015, I studied Arabic at the Middlebury Language School. This was my first ever experience in an immersion program that required each participant to sign a pledge not to use any language other than the target language. The pledge is reinforced by the fact that you are surrounded by the language all day every day. My Arabic improved dramatically in this program, allowing me to better appreciate and advocate for the Romance Language department’s policy of speaking only in the target language even from the first day. I think that an immersion approach is particularly important in a FL context because the amount of input the students receive in those contexts is limited. All that is to say: I’ve most enjoyed these experiences for how different they are. The different contexts and students I’ve encountered have taught me to be a more adaptive and receptive language learner and teacher, which I hope can benefit my future students (wherever I end up!).
The Language Pledge at Middlebury Language School, where Tera learned Arabic
How do your two graduate degrees interrelate, from your perspective?
I believe that Comparative Literature and LTS have great potential for collaboration. In Comparative Literature, one of our departmental requirements is to be able to teach across at least three national and linguistic traditions. It has been one of the rewarding experiences of my academic career to share COLT seminars with scholars who specialize in different languages, historical contexts, media and texts. We all bring different strengths to the program. In LTS, I have had similar experiences learning from teachers of less commonly taught languages and visiting Fulbright scholars. I feel that both programs are flexible and inclusive, with a curriculum and faculty that encourage students to chart their own path through the program. The result of this department support from LTS and COLT is that both my MA project and my dissertation reflect who I am and what I have to offer as a scholar and a teacher.
Are there some related themes across the work you are doing across the two programs?
Both my MA project and my dissertation engage with points of contact between languages and the highly contextualized strategies of multilingual speakers. The literary texts I look at in my dissertation are explicitly concerned with linguistic imperialism and the way that language can function as a form of resistance or as a tool of oppression. Research for my MA project has introduced me to Critical Applied Linguistics and Critical CALL, fields which have opened new avenues for dissertation research. Exploring the intersections between literary criticism and applied linguistics has strengthened both projects, and I see myself continuing to draw on both degrees in my trajectory as a teacher and a scholar. LTS and COLT are a great match!
Thank you, Tera, and good luck with your last months in school this summer!
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
Jesus Napancca Herrera is a current LTS student from Peru, now in his 2nd of 5 terms in the LTS Master’s program. Here he tells us a little about his past, present, and future.
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? Where have you traveled?
I am from Peru and lived in Cusco for many years. I was born in Lima, but since I was learning languages I thought I should move to Cusco, the city of the Incas and one of the largest tourist destinations in South America.
Tell us about your background in teaching and how you got the idea to start a language school.
I started teaching Spanish in 1997 and English in 1998. I was a private Spanish teacher for foreign visitors who were interested in taking intensive courses in Spanish. I was also teaching English to underprivileged kids from Cusco to contribute to my community. In 2000 I created a little cozy school for foreigners as well as for young Cusquenias who could not afford to pay for learning English. In April 2002 I opened Amigos Spanish School. In the same building we had foreigners learning Spanish and local young adults learning English. Both inspired each other and interacted on a daily basis.
The Amigos Language School that Jesus founded in Cusco, Peru
Another view of the Amigos Language School
What is your life like now here in Eugene? Is it very different?
My personal life hasn’t changed much. I am used to being busy every day and I even used to work on Sundays. The difference lies in the dynamic of my tasks. I used to be in charge of my work and have a group of staff working for me. Now I am working for the American English Institute at UO and I feel really fantastic! It is for me a great opportunity to grow as a person. I really appreciate my colleagues at work and my supervisors are amazing. While in Peru, I felt somehow lost and lonely because most of my compatriots thought I was busy for no reason, in a hurry and pathetically organized. Here in Eugene it is normal. So, I feel I am in my element now and don’t feel so lonely anymore. 🙂
You are teaching at the American English Institute as a GE (Graduate Employee teaching assistant) this term. What have you learned from this experience so far?
I have been learning many things, like how to work in a team. I have adjusted myself to following the new rules of this new job in a new country. My colleagues are supportive and always give me a hand at any time. There are great materials for teaching/learning English as well as new methods of teaching languages. Added to this, there is great infrastructure in the classrooms and at our offices. My supervisors and coordinator trust me in my skills as a teacher and allow me to adjust my class as I suggest. I feel privileged and for me, this experience is priceless.
What are some possibilities for your MA project at this point?
Day by day, the idea of my MA project is getting clearer in my mind. After all these months I have learned a lot in my classes in LTS and that helps me to have a better idea of what I would like to pursue in my MA project and my future career. I would like to specialize in LSP (Language for Specific Purposes) and for my future career I would like to work for companies that might need tutors or teachers for LSP.
What do you want to be sure to do during the rest of your year here? Do you have any specific goals or interests?
I would like to connect (which is already happening) the courses with my future career. I would also like to start my own consulting company to empower all kinds of schools that teaches languages.
It is pleasure to introduce you to LTS student Kunie Kellem!
Kunei presenting at the LTS poster session.
Hi Kunie! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.
Hi. I’m Kunie! I’m from Osaka, Japan. I like running, working out, playing and watching basketball, and eating delicious food!! I came to Eugene with my husband and son in August 2016. Before I came to Eugene, I taught English at Japanese high schools for 14 years. I loved my job, students, and my coworkers, but I was always struggling with this dilemma between ideals and reality of English classes in Japan. I wanted to change something. I wanted to see my students communicate in English confidently. I wanted to have confidence in my skills and knowledge to support students to realize their goals. That is why I decided to study in the LTS program!!
Kunie with her son and Puddles the Duck.
Well, we sure are glad you made that decision! So how has the LTS experience been for you?
It was a big decision for me to come to U of O to study since I had to leave my work, and my family had to change their life styles dramatically. What I was most worried about was my son; if he could adjust to the life in U.S., if he could get new friends, and if he could improve his English to keep up with his school work. I was not so worried about myself at the start point of my new journey. However, it turned out the first 3 months here were the hardest time in my life. Since it had been for such a long time after I graduated from university, everything was new and different. I was surrounded by young, enthusiastic students who were always actively involved in discussion in class, whereas I, who was not used to discussion style lectures, was always at a loss about what to do. Being an international student made things more difficult.
Kunie with her son at the Grand Canyon.
I still remember for the first few weeks I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning to work on my reading, take notes, review the lecture notes, and prepare for the classes. In addition, as I had expected, my son also had a hard time at his new school because of the cultural and language issues, which made me feel terrible and responsible for taking him all the way here with me. I literally cried a lot for the first few months. However, things started to get better after 3 months. My son started to enjoy his school life and made many friends. (At first, he could not read English, but now he is in the advanced spellers group!!) My husband finally got a job here. I gradually got used to student life here. After that “dark time” passed, I started to enjoy my life here more. I started to hang out with my friends more, go hiking more, go to watch Duck’s games more, which made me realize that Eugene is such a beautiful place surrounded by great nature and great people. I don’t think I could have gone through this far without support from my family, friends and professors at U of O and I am so grateful about it!!
Kunie with LTS friends Aska (2017) and Krystal (2018).
Kunie in her UO duck gear.
Glad to hear you and your family made it through that transition period and grew from it! What are some key things you’ve learned in your time here?
Of course, I have been learning very important principles and pedagogy of language learning and teaching, but at the same time I really appreciate that I get the perspective of how it is like being a student and learning new things again; what students think, what they struggle with, and how they deal with learning. I almost forgot those perspectives, and I am sure this experience will help me to become a better teacher when I go back to my work. Also, I have learned from my professors how to create the comfortable atmosphere to learn, how to support students, and how to assess students’ learning based on objective-based assessment, which is very motivating. I would like to incorporate what I learned here into my teaching!!
And I know you have been teaching Japanese, how has that experience been?
Kunie at a beach in Newport, Oregon.
Yes. I have been working as a Japanese GE at U of O for 6 terms. I really enjoy teaching Japanese and I like when the students show me “aha! moment” expressions when they understand and use the structures well in a communicative practice. One time, at the REC center I bumped into a student whom I taught before, and he gave me a high five and talked to me in Japanese. I felt extremely happy!! I think this is one of the (rare) rewarding moments for language teachers. Teaching Japanese has also given me a great insight about language teaching. Although Japanese and English are two different languages, I am learning a lot about teaching techniques, curriculum designs, assessments, and classroom managements from Japanese instructors and actual lessons. Now I can see Japanese language and its culture from a different perspective, which I am sure will be a great asset of mine when I go back to Japan. I appreciate that I was given this opportunity to teach Japanese here.
Are you excited to have started working on your M.A. project?
Yes! Actually, I have been worried about it for a long time, but once I started writing literature review for MA project, I really enjoy it. Since I am on the two-year program, I could spend more time thinking about my project than many of my cohorts who are on the 15-month program. On my first year, I spent most of my time, energy and effort on just doing well in a class. However, after one year passed, many things I learned from each class started to make sense, and they started to be connected with each other.
Kunie with her son biking around the Golden Gate Bridge.
Now I feel like I am working on puzzles; a small puzzle for literature review and a big puzzle for MA project. I will keep reading and learning from professors and cohorts to find the best pieces for my puzzle. I am really looking forward to seeing what kind of picture my puzzle will turn out to be.
What a nice connection between the final project and puzzles! Any final thoughts?
I know most of my LTS cohorts live busy stressful days with a lot of school work. I also feel the same way. Although it is very important to be organized and work hard on our project, sometimes it is also important to release our stress by doing/eating what we like. We are now 4 months away from the end of our journey. I am sure it is going to be busy and hard 4 months, but we are on this together. I hope each of us can see our own beautiful picture on the puzzle at the end of this journey!!
Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview and best of luck in your completion of the program!
It is my pleasure to introduce you to 2017-18 LTS student Zach Patrick-Riley.
Zach enjoying the Alaskan summer.
Hi Zach! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.
Hi! Oi! Hola! My name is Zach Patrick-Riley and I am originally from Anchorage, Alaska. I did my undergrad at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!) and while there I discovered the joy of traveling when I studied abroad in London, England. Since that first time abroad, 2008, I have been to 38 countries around the world. People often ask what my favorite place is and it’s an impossible question… with that being said, Brazil is like a second home to me.
Zach representing the Pernambuco, Brazil state flag.
Zach enjoying a waterfall up close at Foz de Iguazu, Brazil.
Halfway through my senior year of college, I was still deciding what to do after graduation. Fortuitously, I attended a weekend workshop that my university put on about diversity on campus. The first night I was quite tired, but I saw a group of students sitting by a fire. I decided it was as good a time as any to branch out and meet some new people. Thankfully I did because I soon started talking to a student from Northeast Brazil, Gustavo. We got along right away and he asked me what my plans were for after graduation. Long story short, he put me in touch with the owner of a school in Brazil, Junior, who invited me to come teach there after graduation. At the time, I didn’t really know anything about Brazil but it seemed like quite the adventure (I didn’t even speak any Portuguese!).
Zach with a couple Brazilian students and Pikachu.
Zach with a group of teachers/friends he trained in Brazil.
I was quite nervous before the first class and wasn’t sure if I would even enjoy teaching. That all changed the minute class started. Do you know those moments in life where something just feels right? Well that’s how I felt about teaching. On that very first day, the energy in the classroom spoke to me on such a deep level and it has continued to do so ever since.
After spending six months teaching in Brazil, I returned to Alaska and from 2010-2014 I did a combination of substitute teaching and working in the art department on various commercials and movies (e.g. Big Miracle). I loved the flexibility that the jobs provided as I could work hard for a bit and then go travel to different parts of the world. In 2014, I decided to commit even more to language teaching and got my CELTA (a TESOL teaching certificate) before returning to Brazil to teach/do teacher training for 2015-2016. My second time over there just reaffirmed my love for language teaching and Brazil.
Zach at a farewell party with his fellow teacher friends in Caruaru, Brazil.
Quite the story! Was your journey to LTS as serendipitous?
Zach hiking with LTS friends Alexis and Lee.
It’s quite the story as well, but to sum it up: After returning from 2.5 years working and traveling in South America, I went to the 2017 International TESOL conference in Seattle. During the conference it became apparent that in order to get the kind of premium jobs I wanted, a Master’s degree was essential. Right after that realization, I attended a workshop and met a graduate student in the LTS program, Devon Hughes.
She spoke highly of the program and mentioned that the director of the program, Dr. Keli Yerian, was actually downstairs. I didn’t want to impose, but am glad I got past that because talking with Keli and other LTS faculty and students who were there inspired me to apply. I got my application ready as soon as the conference ended and now here I am one year later.
So how has the LTS experience been for you?
The experience has been life-changing to say the least, both personally and professionally. Succeeding academically in this program has meant the world to me on a personal level and really built up a lot of academic confidence that before was lacking. Everything we learn in the program directly benefits our future teaching endeavors. It is very hands-on so you get to mould your learning to suit your individual interests.
Zach doing a workshop on VR/AR and language learning which fellow LTS friend Logan Matz seems to be enjoying.
For me, what really makes LTS special is the community with the cohort and the professors. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging, while also making sure we each achieve our maximum potential. The professors treat us with kindness and respect, valuing and encouraging our contributions in the classroom. The professors always take the time to talk to students after class. I am forever grateful for the guidance I have received from my fellow cohort members and professors, as well as the smiles and laughter.
I know you work as a GE (graduate employee) at CASLS. What has that been like?
I know it sounds cliché, but CASLS has been life-changing as well. Just like the LTS community, what really makes CASLS so special is the energy. Every day I am inspired by the collaborative and innovative values to which CASLS subscribes. I have the supreme pleasure of working with LTS faculty member Dr. Julie Sykes, who has shifted the way I see communication due to pragmatics, and Stephanie Knight, who has greatly enhanced my efficacy with curriculum design and article writing. The superlatives continue as the rest of the people at the CASLS office are equally amazing and brighten my every day, even in the most stressful of times.
Zach with CASLS colleagues enjoying Halloween.
In terms of projects, there have been quite a few I’ve worked on. The biggest one is LingroToGo, a new Spanish language learning mobile application that promotes authentic language use, and dynamic game-based language learning. For this app, I have created a number of the animated videos, some video scripts, and done quality assurance testing. It is fantastic to be even a small part of a resource that, in my opinion, exemplifies the direction quality language teaching is heading.
Another project is writing articles for the online language learning newsletter Intercom, which offers cutting-edge research and ready-made classroom activities. This experience has allowed me to author publications that reach thousands of national and international educators.
During Winter term, I also worked with a group of visiting Japanese students from Nagoya, University, and as always, it reaffirmed just how wonderful it is to be in the classroom. I love that I get to be an integral part in the planning and implementation of all kinds of cool programs.
Zach doing a workshop on pragmatics with students from Nagoya University.
It sounds like it! Last question, are you excited to have started working on your final MA project?
I am indeed. It is a little daunting as time is flying by and we will be presenting before we know it… but when you love what you are studying/working on, it makes it fun and exciting. My project involves pragmatics, pronunciation, and individualized learner instruction.
Any final thoughts?
Sim (yes in Brazilian Portuguese). The world responds when you take chances and put yourself out there. I was nervous before I talked to Gustavo at that workshop, or when I talked to Devon and subsequently Keli at the TESOL conference, and I was even nervous about applying to grad school and CASLS. As you read, they all ended up being positive life changing experiences and make me fill-up with emotion just thinking about them. Often the most rewarding experiences are intimidating at first, but just believe in yourself and you will end up in the most wonderful of places, like the LTS program.
Zach at the summit of Rainbow Mountain in Peru.
Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Best of luck in your completion of the program.
I am thrilled to introduce you to current LTS student Yumiko Omata!
Hi Yumiko! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself:
2017-18 LTS student Yumiko Omata.
I am originally from Japan. After high school, I moved to Tokyo to study art and to work for ten years. In 2000, I moved to Austin, TX to study English for a year or so but ended up staying here for 17 years instead. I met my favorite person/best friend (my husband) the next morning after arriving in Austin! He was one of my housemates and actually the first person I talked to in the US. Life is fun and crazy! Since then, I have lived in several cities in the US and studied painting at the University of Arizona. From 2010-2011, I also lived in South America (Argentina and Ecuador) and enjoyed traveling and learning Spanish. After returning to the states, I settled down in Portland, OR and found a job teaching Japanese and I fell in love with teaching. Art (painting, ceramics, making furniture, etc.), travel and language are my passions. Gardening as well! I miss my garden, chickens, and honey bees left behind in Portland very much.
Aw, what a lovely story! So, out of all of the programs in the world, how did you end up at LTS?
It is a great question because this blog was the beginning of everything! I was planning to apply to the TESOL program at Portland State University and even took a prerequisite course in summer 2016. I had a few concerns about PSU and started searching other programs on the West Coast and found the LTS blog featuring Keisuke (2015-2016 LTS alumnus). I directly contacted him and he kindly shared his experience in the LTS program and gave me great insight. Then, I visited the program on December 1st (almost a year ago!) and met our director, Keli. Keli warmly welcomed me and made a wonderful impression and let me observe a couple of classes. Also, the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL) is another reason I chose LTS. EALL offers the oldest, most well-established Japanese courses in the U.S, and I was hoping to be a part of EALL in order to explore the academic field. The program, people (Keli, Laura, and LTS students), and a possible opportunity to be involved with EALL convinced me I had to be here.
Well LTS is very lucky to have you! And have you been enjoying the program so far?
I am very happy with my decision. I like that the LTS program helps me establish both practical and theoretical foundations and it is very organized and tailored to guide us to find our own path as a language teacher/educator. As I mentioned, people (Keli, Trish, other LTS professors, and the 2017-2018 LTS cohort) are wonderful. I appreciate the faculty members’ enthusiasm and willingness to communicate and support us; they are very approachable. Some of my cohort are from other countries, and I remember my old days as an international student and they definitely inspire me. I was hoping to meet people who teach or are interest in teaching foreign languages other than English, but I definitely enjoy learning EFL/ESL teaching perspectives since it has vast, great resources that I can apply to my field.
What are you hoping to gain from the program?
I am hoping to establish a solid theoretical and professional foundation in second language acquisition and language pedagogy. At the same time, my interest of study is Japanese pedagogy, so it is nice for me to have opportunities to take Japanese and East Asian linguistic courses while studying LTS.
Great goals! Speaking of, I know you’re teaching Japanese this term, what has that experience been like?
It has been wonderful and rewarding in many different ways! This is my first term to teach Japanese as a graduate employee (GE) and it has given me great insight into JFL at an institution of higher education. Before I started this term, I was kind of worried about how to find a balance between my busy academic life as a student and teaching as a GE. Now I feel I found a good rhythm bouncing between the two. I am currently teaching a JPN 101 (first year Japanese) discussion course. I enjoy seeing how students break through language barriers and become Japanese language speakers. They are fun to teach, and I am very impressed by their progress. Interactions with my students, Japanese instructors, and colleagues have been enhancing my life, and I feel that I am part of an academic community. I am quite busy, but it has been a driving force to help me achieve my goals in the LTS program. In the past, I taught Japanese at a small community-based language center in Portland, OR for four years, but my students were all age groups except college students. I started noticing differences between the learners/ institutions and that has been helping me expand my perspective as a teacher quite a bit. One of my GE duties is a weekly observation, and it is an important and great benefit for me to observe courses taught by highly experienced Japanese instructors. I am able to grasp their techniques and teaching styles, which inspire and broaden my future vision of myself as a teacher.
Sounds like a wonderful and rewarding experience indeed! Any final thoughts?
If anyone is interested in the LTS program, don’t hesitate to visit us. Eugene is beautiful, tranquil, and a perfect place to study.
Thanks so much for sharing your incredible journey Yumiko!
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
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.
“Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt. The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What kind of work have you done?
Hello, my name is Adam (天天). I come from a small city with over 2,500 years of history – Kaifeng, China.
Becoming a foreign language teacher has always been a dream I am enthusiastic about. Before coming to the US, I got my bachelor’s degree in Teaching Korean as a Foreign Language in South Korea. After graduation, I did different types of jobs including Chinese teacher in a Korean academy and liaison of international affairs in a Chinese college.
You are also completing a degree with the East Asian Languages and Literatures department. Can you tell us about what brought you to the LTS program?
I started my studies at the U of O in 2015, with my first major Korean Linguistics. Knowing that I have interests in language teaching, my advisor Professor Lucien Brown suggested me taking classes in the LTS program in order to fulfill my graduate requirements. However, what I learned from the first course – Curriculum and Teaching Material Development was way beyond my expectation. Realizing the tight connection between my first major department and LTS, I went on taking more courses in both programs. In summer 2016, with the help of the program director Professor Yerian, I got accepted by LTS as a concurrent degree student. Courses I took in the LTS program have strongly helped me to achieve my career goal. Those courses refreshed my mind with teaching methodologies, second language learning theories and other skills that I hadn’t thought about or been aware of.
Could you tell us a little bit about the ideas that you have for your Master’s project?
This summer, I am going to finish the draft of my Master’s Project for LTS. This research report shows evidence that what affects the judgement on accentedness of second language learners from Korean native speakers are the errors in applying “pitch pattern” of phrases.
Could you tell us about any internships or GE positions you’ve had at the UO?
In addition to my studies, I am also enjoying a couple of opportunities to apply the skills I have learned from the classes. During weekdays, I teach beginner level Korean as a Graduate Teaching Fellow. The class consists not only American students but also a large portion of international students who are also interested in Korean language and culture. Every Friday afternoon, I meet kids in the Edison Elementary school for a Chinese Language and Culture Club. This after-school club offers Grade 3-5 kids the chance to experience very authentic Chinese culture as well as tons of fun games. In both classes I feel rewarded for seeing students loving the activities I design and the language and culture I share with them.
Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What kind of work have you done? Do you have any hobbies?
My name is Iryna Zagoruyko and I am originally from Ukraine. I moved to the U.S. 5 years ago. I got my first Master’s degree in Business Administration in Ukraine. After graduation, I worked as a manager of foreign economic relations at the Korean International Company in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. Also, in Ukraine I worked as an Interpreter of English for foreign economic delegations. After I moved to the U.S., I worked as a student specialist in the ESL Department at Lane Community College in Eugene. After that, I did my second Master’s degree with the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Department at UO, simultaneously teaching first- and second-year Russian courses as a GE for two years (2014-2016). Being a Russian GE really changed my life goals: I understood that language teaching is my passion and decided to receive more knowledge on that. Now I am a graduate student at the LTS program of the Linguistics Department of the UO, and plan to receive my third Masters’ degree in language teaching this Summer.
This year was quite intense for me. Juggling being a graduate student in the intense LTS program, working at CASLS, and having a small baby (who was born three weeks after I started the LTS program) was quite a challenge. I did not manage to have a lot of free time for hobbies or interests and had to plan smartly to balance all aspects of my life. But every spare minute I have I try to spend with family: my baby and my husband. We really enjoy hiking together, going to the coast in Florence, and just being together at home.
Could you tell us more about your GE position at UO?
This year I was a graduate employee (GE) at CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies) at UO. I worked on the Russian version of CASLS’ Bridging Project, a year-long hybrid course centered on exploring student identities. This project encourages students with high levels of proficiency, especially heritage students and those who graduate from immersion programs, to continue language study at the college level, which has become increasingly more challenging. CASLS is a great environment where people support and value each other. It was a big honor for me to work in such a highly-valued and highly-recognized National Foreign Language Resource Centers as CASLS. I truly believe that work which is done at CASLS will improve teaching and learning of world languages.
Could you tell us a little bit about the ideas that you have for your Master’s project?
My master’s project is called “Marching to Different Drummers: Differentiated Instruction for Teaching Mixed Classes of Heritage and Non-Heritage Learners of Russian with Motivation in Mind.” The motivation for this project is to offer language teachers access to the concepts of differentiated instruction, and strategies for applying it to their specific teaching context – mixed/homogeneous classes of heritage and non-heritage learners of Russian of novice to intermediate levels of proficiency.
What is the most valuable thing that you’ve learned during your time at the UO?
Probably, that we, LTS students, are all in a perfect place to gain very valuable knowledge on teaching which we can later apply in our lives. Professors in the LTS program possess extremely high levels of expertise in language teaching and offer us great support. Being a part of a single cohort of LTS students who are taking the same classes and doing the same projects together is really fun.