Every year, the Graduate School showcases research by graduate students at the University of Oregon’s Grad Forum. This past Friday four LTS students presented their projects, alongside other MA and PhD students from various fields. It’s a great chance for LTS grads to get experience presenting their work formally to others outside of the field. All of us who visited the Forum were so impressed by the creative and attractive posters, and the professional presentations that went with them. Go LTS!
Reeya Zhao presenting a poster of her project titled, “A Career-Exploration Course in Mandarin Chinese for Young Learners,” at the UO 2016-2017 Graduate Research Forum
Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? Where have you studied? Do you have any hobbies?
My name is Reeya Zhao, and I’m from Beijing, China, where I spent most of my life before turning 18. The city of Beijing is a mix of ancient, modern, domestic and overseas sites and cultures. People come and go since they can find both opportunities and challenges there. At the age of 18, I decided to leave to attend the East China Normal University in Shanghai, and that’s where I found the Disney summer internship and the OIIP programs in 2014. I worked at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for two months as a merchandise representative before OIIP. This was technically my first overseas job, and I had so much fun because we often stocked past midnight after the garden closed and I met many Disney characters backstage. OIIP is an international internship program at the University of Oregon. During that 5 months, I took two courses at the UO while working as an intern in the kindergarten department of Mt. Vernon elementary school, with two teachers and two teaching assistants. After that, I made my decision to be a language teacher and come back some day pursuing further education.
Has the LTS program brought you any extracurricular opportunities?
Now, it has been almost one year for me studying in the LTS program. As an international student, I feel it’s very intensive yet worthwhile. By following the suggestions of which courses to take from our coordinator Dr. Keli Yerian, I feel that each term is a little bit more intensive than the previous one. The Gaokao (China College Entrance Examination) was the first high pressure educational experience for me, and the LTS cohort and program are the first ones to push me to become more professional in various ways. In the Fall and Winter terms, I participated in the Edison Chinese Club Program. Two other Chinese cohort members (Yan and Adam) and I planned and taught Mandarin lessons together after school on every Friday, and were directed by Professors Keli Yerian and Lara Ravitch. This was challenging at the beginning because not only did we need to think of attractive activities and how to best sequence all of it, we also pre-planned for imagined classroom management problems, and sometimes dealt with unexpected situations. For example, with planned small group activities, some kids might feel like working alone on some days, and we would come up with an “emergency plan” to let him/her be out of the group for a while. However, we always reminded ourselves to encourage them to come back eventually, because cooperation is one of the essential skills we want the learners to develop further in our Chinese club.
Tell us a little bit about your Master’s project! What is the context of your project?
My Master’s project is a course design for young learners of ages 10-14 studying at international schools in China. I believe that students within this age range are developing their awareness of future careers, and they need the language as a bridge between them and the outside world in this foreign country. Due to these reasons, I’m thinking of a career-exploration course taught in Mandarin Chinese to formally develop their multi-language and multi–culture abilities.
What are the most valuable aspects of the LTS program as you’ve experienced it so far?
I also value the circumstances of discussing, sharing, and working together with all the cohort members in LTS. I also love the various connections provided by all my instructors and the courses they lead. For example, in the Talking with Ducks course led by Professor Laura Holland, we had three classes each week. On Tuesdays, all the TWD teachers carefully planned and discussed the chosen activities together. On Thursdays, we actually taught in an English conversation college course for international students. Then, on Fridays, all the LTS cohorts got into the class to debrief and reflect how we did on those Thursdays. Last but not least, I also like the LT 536 course design and the LT 549 testing and assessment classes where I was pushed to design a course and assessments. In doing so, I was given the motivation to research and look into the use of authentic materials.
Last Thursday four LTS students presented at the Grad Student Research Forum, sharing their MA projects with the U of O community.
“I presented a poster on my capstone project teaching portfolio. Not only did preparing for the poster help me organize my thoughts and clarify my overall project, but the poster presentation session also contributed to the development of my project. I received a lot of positive feedback and interesting inquiries, and the criticism I received and doubts that some people had were helpful too, as they will inform how I ultimately present the project in its final stage. While preparing this poster while still in the midst of research was nerve-wracking, I think my overall project will be better for it, since I am treating the research forum as a feedback session. The experience itself of preparing and presenting a poster was eye-opening as well, and I believe I will be glad for it when I present in the future in higher stakes environments. I would recommend that anyone with ongoing or finished research try out a research forum; it’s definitely worth it.”–Kathryn
“Grad forum helped me achieve three strategic objectives that were essential for me at this stage in the game. It forced me to 1) bring my capstone ideas together into a coherent (enough) set of ideas to 2) have the chance to share my project with others, and 3) reevaluate, in light of my interactions with others the aspects of the project that seemed sticky and the parts that seemed flat. For me, when doing this kind of work it’s really important to air the idea out. Talking to people about what I’m working on is a super productive way to process my own ideas, as if from another person’s perspective, and reach the next level of clarity.”–Christopher
“Grad Forum takes place during the early stages of working on our final projects. I’ve been thinking about my topic since about last August, but I still have a lot of work to do in the next two terms, so it was challenging to create a full poster presentation. However, it was really valuable to do this while I still have time to adjust certain parts of my project. My project focuses on ESL university students at the U of O, so I was able to talk to a lot of people who aren’t in the field but have experience working with international students, or who have studied abroad, and I got a lot of interesting feedback. It was also a positive challenge to have to explain my whole project in brief conversations, and to explain it in a way that was accessible to people not in the field.” –Annelise
“Presenting at the Grad Forum was scary, stressful, intimidating, and one of the most fun experiences I’ve had! It was great to be able to represent LTS, showcase the awesome stuff I get to do in the program, and get recognized for my hard work. Summing up an entire year of effort into five short minutes and three PowerPoint slides was a really intense experience. However, it was really great practice for me, as a language teacher, to be able to talk about a topic unfamiliar to the audience as concisely and articulately as possible, while keeping them engaged and staying within the set time frame of five minutes. It was also great to have a day set aside to connect with other graduate students and learn about their work, get feedback from faculty in other departments, and be a part of the larger culture of graduate school. I’m doing the program in two years, so I’ll get another chance next year… and honestly, I’m already looking forward to it!”–Becky