Jasmine Li is a current LTS student who is graduating this Summer 2019. She has focused on English materials and teaching in the program, and is completing her project on a topic she loves: stimulating English learners’ interest in authentic literature through the the careful integration of both modified and authentic texts.
Jasmine with some poster materials in her curriculum class winter term
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Shiyun Li, but everyone just calls me Jasmine. I’m from China, but I’ve spent most of my undergraduate and graduate years in the US. I have a BA in English Literature and I went back to China and taught English for a year before coming to Eugene to continue my studies. I’m always enthusiastic about short stories and detective novels. And traveling by myself is what I like to do the most in my spare time outside the school. I love to meet with different people along the way and listen to their stories, which to me is even more exciting than travel itself. The counties that are still on my travel list are: Japan, Italy and Jamaica. I hope I can visit these countries in the near future and have more exciting adventures along the way.
What are you working on in your MA project, and how are you feeling about it now that you are halfway done?
I’m currently working on the topic of use extensive reading approach in EFL context and integrating modified and authentic materials to teach reading for adult and young adult English learners. I feel like everything I’ve been creating for the project is finally coming together now. It is never easy when you are writing, but at the same time you are looking forward to write more about it. And I really like how my perspective has changed during the process of writing and how much I’ve learned so far by working on my project.
Sunrise at Miami Beach
What was most interesting for you in your English and Chinese language teaching internship experiences this past term?
The most memorable part about my internships is the teaching I did in AEIS (Academic English for International Students) because it was the first time I taught a cross-cultural language class at the university level. In the program I’ve learned how to plan a lesson and create materials according to learners’ needs and abilities, so it was a great opportunity for me to put what I’ve learned in practice. It is really rewarding to see students are doing a good job and learning new things from what I’ve prepared for them.
What are you hoping to do after LTS?
After what I’ve learned in the LTS, I’m hoping that I could be given an opportunity to continue my education and doing research in the language teaching field. I’d like to pursue a PhD in Second Language Acquisition and put my focus on bilingualism and second language learning process. But still, I wish to always be a good language teacher in my students’ perspective.
This month’s LTS blog post features Zuxuan Ni and Yang Li, who are both interested in teaching Mandarin to older children in the U.S. In LTS they have been taking some classes specifically focused on Chinese linguistics and teaching, as well as assisting middle and high school learners of Chinese at Oak Hill School in Eugene.
Yang and Zuxuan in front of Oak Hill School where they are assisting learners in Chinese. The snow is rare in Eugene!
Hello Xuan and Yang! Tell us a little about yourselves.
(Zuxuan) My name is Zuxuan Ni, sometimes my friends call me Xuan. I am from Beijing, China. I got married in Seattle and moved with my husband to Eugene three years ago. My interests include second language teaching and psychology and education. I like traveling. When I was studying for my first MA in psychology and education in England, I visited several European countries among which Denmark was my favorite. Now I am enjoying my time studying language teaching here in Oregon. I love this beautiful state very much and hope to become a Chinese language teacher after graduation.
(Yang) My name is Yang Li, and I’m from Hunan, China, where foods are known for being spicy. It’s no surprise that I love spicy foods. I got married in my hometown two years ago and came to the US with my husband, who is studying at Oregon State University right now. I’m really happy to study in LTS program and met new friends, this is a valuable treasure for my life.
What experiences in teaching did you each have before starting the program?
(Zuxuan) I worked as an L2 English teacher at an international high school in Beijing for half a year. During this period, I planned and delivered English lessons to seven classes with 20 students in each class. It was a great experience in which I engaged in creating a stimulating learning environment and varying my students’ learning activities in class by providing more interactive tasks to practice.
(Yang) I taught English grammar and TOEFL and IELTS reading before starting LTS. After graduating in 2013, I started working in an International high school for two years. During that time, I was responsible for teaching English grammar and tutoring students with their TOEFL reading. Then, in order to have more chances to gain teaching experience and work near my hometown, I got another job to teach TOEFL and IELTS reading in a private Language training center. Normally, the class size was pretty small, with three or four students per class. I enjoy teaching students and being one of their supporters. However, I desperately felt that I myself needed to improve before I could really help my students to a larger extent. So that’s why I’m here.
Yang Li visiting San Francisco
What attracted you to a program like LTS?
(Zuxuan and Yang) As we delved deeper into our English teaching work in China, we encountered some practical problems of developing our course designs and fostering students’ autonomous learning, which made us realize that we lacked some professional training in language teaching. This is why we are here in the LTS program. The courses offered by LTS are what we are expecting to learn. For example, in Second Language Teaching Planning, we learned how to analyze and examine the major methods used by L2 teachers to teach target languages as well as the principles and concepts associated with the L2 teaching. Such course perfectly met our learning needs and helped us build a firm foundation for a further career. We are very grateful for it and looking forward to the following terms!
We’re glad to hear that! What are you doing now in the program?
(Zuxuan and Yang) We are learning to develop language course designs for our target learners in the program. It is very helpful for us to learn to analyze our specific teaching contexts and set appropriate learning outcomes so that we can make our future language teaching successful. In addition we are working as Chinese language partners to teach speaking and listening at Oak Hill School (a K-12 private school in Eugene). We meet with two intermediate-level students aged 16 once a week to provide them with more language input and encourage them to talk with us about some cultural topics. We are happy to see that the students become more and more confident in speaking Chinese and they start accurately
using higher-level constructions when talking to us. It is always a pleasant time with the students.
What are you thinking of doing for your final MA capstone projects?
(Zuxuan) For my final MA project, I plan to design a task-based Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) course for the purpose of reinforcing middle and high school students’ oral skills by using authentic materials. I want to develop a course which is suitable for young students and offers helpful scaffolding for those lower-proficiency learners in the K-12 context. Since Chinese pronunciation, especially the tones, is generally considered to be a critical challenge for non-tonal language speakers, my project will focus on engaging students in meaningful tasks which involve a variety of tonal practice. Besides, I will also utilize a usage-based constructionist approach to offer form-function mapping to
students to learn distinctive Chinese structures. Hopefully, my final MA project can be useful for my future language teaching after graduation.
Zuxuan in San Antonio before joining LTS
(Yang) After graduation, I want to have more experience studying or working in the US. Therefore, for my final project, I’m thinking of teaching Chinese in a CFL context and to build learner agency by utilizing task-based language teaching principle in classrooms. And I’m seeking to see the effectiveness of the task-based approach in motivating students and in optimizing their learning experience. As a foreign language, there are not many opportunities for learners to practice Chinese, and mostly the learning behaviors are triggered by external incentives. So, I believe there is an urgent need to find how to encourage students to take initiative in learning Chinese. I hope my final project will be beneficial for my future teaching career.
Finally, this program is intensive, and we are now more than halfway through it! Are you looking forward to the last spring and summer terms?
(Zuxuan and Yang) Yes, definitely. We are definitely looking forward to the spring and summer terms. Because we may start guest teaching in different elementary schools in Spring and get more familiar with classrooms in the US. We are so excited about having these opportunities and experience. Also, we’ll start to write our final project and research for the topic we are interested in. Furthermore, we are really looking forward to the courses of these two terms, like the assessment and pronunciation course, which would benefit us a lot for our final project and future teaching career.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to 2017-2018 LTS MA student Logan Matz!
Hi Logan! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.
Logan and Polly
Oh gosh. My love for language really started growing up around a bunch of different, really robust immigrant communities. So everywhere I went, I heard more than just English being spoken, and I thought that was pretty neat! I got my undergraduate degree in linguistics from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, so the move to Oregon wasn’t really too far. I’m a quarter Hungarian (sziasztok!) and the bulk of my extra-continental travel has been to Denmark. I also really enjoy anything related to bikes and dogs. Cooking and hiking are up there as well, although cleaning up afterward is something I struggle with…
Have you been enjoying the LTS program so far?
Logan on his bike
I’ve been enjoying it a lot! It’s great having such a small cohort because it really allows you to work closely with your fellow students and get a lot out of professors because of the small class sizes. I also really like the balance between scaffolded assistance from faculty and dedicated “struggle time”; I think it fosters a sense of independence that’s important to have as a teacher combined with the knowledge that although I can work well on my own, I don’t have to, and there are TONS of resources, people and otherwise, at my disposal to help me learn and create the best project I can.
What are you hoping to learn/gain from the program?
In undergrad, I knew I really wanted to teach. But I also knew that I would need to learn how to teach first. I applied for the program knowing that I didn’t have any language teaching experience, and I’m so pleased to have taken the practicum class with Laura Holland– what a fun formative entry into the world of teaching! I’m really looking forward to developing pragmatics-related curricula, although I still have a lot to learn.
And I know you have two internships this term–Harrisburg and CASLS. How have those been going?
Logan teaching Adult Basic Skills in Harrisburg through Linn-Benton Community College
Harrisburg is great. I’m volunteering with Amy Griffin (LTS alum!), who’s teaching an Adult Basic Skills Community English Language Acquisition course through Linn-Benton Community College, and although I helped out once a week last quarter, I made it official this quarter and I’m teaching twice a week now. The class size and proficiency distribution means that there’s a beginner group and an intermediate group, and I’m very grateful to Amy for letting me swap between groups during the week. I work with the beginners on Tuesdays, and then Thursdays work with the intermediate group. Of course, I couldn’t do it without Amy, who’s putting in twice the work by writing both her own lesson plan and a lesson plan for me to follow. All I have to do is drive north, show up, and teach!
Logan monitoring Adult Basic Skills students
It’s a fantastic experience, and I couldn’t ask for a better on-the-ground teaching practice opportunity. The students are all great fun to work with, and I’m continuously impressed with how much effort they put into a two-hour class, at the end of a long workday, with families waiting at home. Amy’s lesson plans are always great, and I’m allowed to put my own spin on them when I see the chance to. I need to mock up a class schedule for Spring, but I’d love to go back and help again next quarter!
My internship at CASLS has been super rewarding. It’s great working with such a cool team, and of course it’s awesome to have my own desk! I was worried when I first started, knowing that Julie has a very hands-off managerial approach; but it’s been plenty easy to check in with her when necessary, and the rest of the team is super accessible for any questions or help I might need. My first project was working on a set of lessons for Games2Teach for the game Papers, Please, which is a super fun puzzle game that just so happens to naturally brim with pragmatic goodies. I’m all done with the rough drafts, and I’m just awaiting some feedback now. While that finishes up, I’m starting to work on cleaning up another existing CASLS project, called the Place- and Experience-Based Database for Language Learning (PEBLL). Basically, it just needs a little TLC to make sure current entries are up-to-date before more are added. I also get to attend the weekly curriculum meetings, which have been super fun and useful for developing my curriculum designer’s intuition. It’s also so inspiring to hear everyone throwing ideas around!
Any final thoughts?
Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Hope you have a great last few weeks of Winter term!
LTS student George Minchillo submitted this report on LTS alumni currently teaching at Tokyo International University. George is there now serving as an intern and will graduate from University of Oregon at the end of this term.
Please Give us a Brief Overview of Tokyo International University
Welcome to Tokyo International University!
Tokyo International University is a Japanese university in the greater Tokyo area. Although the Global Teaching Institute (the university’s English language program and faculty) has only been around for close to 5 years, you wouldn’t be able to tell from its staff of about 50 instructors and the wide variety of activities and events that it sponsors for the university and surrounding community!
One of the biggest and most important missions of the GTI is cultural globalization and international cooperation, which is evidenced by the E-Track program (English Track: classes are taught primarily in English with some Japanese as a Second Language courses) comprised of students from many different countries who have come to Japan seeking a degree in Business, Economics, or English communication. The other program the GTI offers is the J-Track (Japanese Track: mostly Japanese students earning a Japanese degree) and this is comprised of the required English courses that all students at the university are required to take.
Six LTS alumni are currently members of the TIU faculty: Becky Lawrence, Ryan Felix, Annelise Marshall, Brandon Bigelow, Kodiak Atwood, and LeeAnn Genovese.
Becky Lawrence showing her Basic Writing student a photo about her experience at a Japanese festival.
What classes do you teach at TIU?
Becky: I teach four classes in the Global Teaching Institute. Three are core classes for J-Track students learning English. For these core classes, I teach Sections 3 and 4, which are pretty beginner levels (the levels go from 1-28). I teach English Comprehension (Reading) to both Sections 3 and 4, and Basic Writing to Section 4. The other class that I teach is Advanced Reading and Writing, and I teach the highest level of this particular class, which is an elective for J-Track students who are mostly juniors and seniors. I really enjoy all of my classes because they each present unique challenges. I like that I get to experience teaching beginner students and advanced students at the same time. It makes me more creative, and I regularly use techniques and activities that I learned in LTS!
Ryan Felix warming up his students with an exercise in frequency adverbs!
Ryan: I’ve been at TIU for four years now! Each year I’m assigned different classes to teach; this year I have reading and writing classes with Japanese students. I’ve also been teaching public speaking for the last three years in a separate program for international students studying business or international relations. At first, I was nervous about teaching it, having little public speaking experience myself, but I’ve learned so much!
Brandon: I graduated from the LTS program in 2013, and have been at TIU since September 2016. I teach English Comprehension and Basic Writing for freshmen Japanese students. I also teach Academic Composition for international students from countries including Vietnam, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia.
Kodiak Atwood posing for a photo with his students and co-teacher.
Kodiak: I’m currently teaching two listening classes and one speaking class to Japanese freshmen. The Japanese freshmen are really fun to work with and I have a lot of room to experiment and try new things out in the classroom. I’m currently implementing a gamified curriculum where all of the students are characters in a role-playing game and that’s going really well! I also teach an analytical reading and critical thinking course to international students. The international students are all advanced and occasionally native speakers, which is a welcome challenge and change of pace. We are able to cover really interesting topics and discuss complicated issues in class that I normally wouldn’t be able to do.Annelise: This year I’m teaching first year listening and speaking classes and a composition class focused on research writing.
George: I’m here as an intern, so I’m not regularly participating at the front of a classroom. However, there will be weekly opportunities for me to run a variety of workshops based on topics, skills, or functions that interest me (and hopefully interest the students). I also get to participate in a series of workshops for local Honda employees who are coming to the university for TOEIC training.
Which committee are you a part of?
Becky: All faculty are part of a specific committee that works to provide students to GTI faculty and students and make the GTI and TIU the best university it can be. I’m the SLI (Student Leadership Internship) Coordinator, which means that I work closely with J-Track and E-Track students who work part-time in the English Plaza. As Faculty Advisor, I’m responsible for ensuring that they have the support and training that they need to make the English Plaza a welcoming and educational place for all TIU students who want to come practice their English.
Annelise Marshall working with students in her Academic Composition class.
Ryan: I’m part of a committee that’s responsible for gathering and creating materials that teachers can use in their lessons.
LeeLee: Kodiak and I started our coordinator role: International Education Team. We started this role based on our observation that there is a lack of support for students interested in going abroad not related to the ASP (American Studies Program). The ASP is the largest study abroad program we have through TIU, where we send 120-130 students to Willamette University in Oregon for 10 months. ASP students have a lot of support, but other study abroad students are left to figure life out on their own. So, we decided to start doing what we could to help them. We do things like pre- and post-study abroad orientations, we advise and help students through the process of finding programs, we have even interviewed applicants to go abroad, and kept up communications with students as they were studying abroad. We have held multiple study abroad fairs in conjunction with the IEO (International Exchange Office). We discovered, encouraged, motivated and mentored international students (E-Track) currently at TIU to give cultural and educational presentations about their home countries in our plaza!
Kodiak: I am one of the International Education Coordinators. We are responsible for giving study abroad students the resources they need to be successful, creating opportunities for students to experience different cultures, and promoting internationalism around campus. We have been responsible from organizing the annual freshman trip to Oregon each year and give workshops and lessons related to study abroad.
Brandon: My committee focus is with the English Plaza Library, where I help maintain over 2,500 English books and continually add new and diverse options.
George: As the intern, you get to participate in all of the committees! I have a weekly rotation throughout all of the GTI committees that allows me to familiarize myself with their roles and duties, as well as help out with any of their current projects. At first it can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s also a unique opportunity and very insightful to see how the entire program comes together as a whole through these committees.
Brandon Bigelow posing with a group of students representing Indonesian culture for the TIU international fair.
What else do you do at TIU?
Becky: In addition to teaching, all faculty have to participate in either English Lounge, which is conversation time with students, or Academic Advising, which is helping with homework and essays. I chose to do English Lounge because I love talking with students every day. It’s awesome watching them blossom and try out new vocabulary and grammar as they talk about subjects they’re interested in.
Brandon: Additionally, I have the opportunity to chat with students on comfy couches about less formal, relaxing topics during English Lounge time.
Annelise: I also supervise the English-Speaking Society, a student-led club concentrated on using English for discussion and formal presentations.
George: I also get to participate in English Lounge and Academic Advising, which is pretty similar to the Conversation Partner program at UO. This has probably been my most favorite part of being at TIU, just because the students are fun to hang out with. At first it’s a little bit intimidating and it can be difficult to think of what to say, but then you realize that most of the students just want the opportunity to learn more about people from other countries and it becomes a very relaxing, fun experience.
Anything else you would like to share about TIU?
Becky: I really love working at TIU for many reasons. I love the wide range of students that I get to teach. I also love the working environment. All of the faculty are friendly and supportive. It’s nice to come to work and enjoy the people I am working with. It’s definitely like a family! We do things outside of work together, which is really nice when you’re living in a foreign country. It’s also nice to have a co-teacher that shares my same students, because we can plan our classes together and lean on each other for support. Not really TIU related, but I also really enjoy the Japanese semester system, because we have lots of vacation time. I’m looking forward to exploring South Korea, China, Thailand, and Taiwan in the upcoming months! Finally, I really love that I have a network of LTS alumni here at TIU. It feels like a little piece of home even though I’m thousands of miles away!
Ryan: Teaching in Japan and at TIU has been an invaluable experience. I’m learning another language and culture—making friends and participating in local events has been personally very fulfilling. I’m also getting a better sense of what it means to be a professional in this field. Being a member of the Japanese Association for Language Teaching gives me access to talks and literature, as well as my own professional development opportunities. A great big thank you to LTS professors, and our great leader, Keli, who prepared us well to be in the field. It’s working!!
Walking into the TIU Campus Plaza, one can view the flags from many nations around the world.
Annelise: I love that at TIU I get to work with both Japanese students and international students from all over the world!
Brandon: TIU is incredibly welcoming. There is abundant respect and consideration for both the students and instructors. Being a part of the TIU community has been a true privilege.
Kodiak: I really enjoy working here! My coworkers and students are great, the class sizes are small, and I am able to try new and interesting things out in the classroom!
George: One of the best things about TIU is that the working environment is very low stress. In my previous experiences studying Japanese and learning about Japanese culture, I had heard that the working environment in Japan is often one of high stress and long work hours. While each member of the GTI team is certainly busy, and may occasionally need to work a few additional hours, there is no sense of stress and everyone really seems to enjoy their time here. I really hope that I can become part of the team myself one day!
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? Do you have any hobbies?
My name is Saba Alamoudi. I am from Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The holy city for Muslims and one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s a crossroads and melting pot of many world cultures. People come to this city from many places around the world every year.
I was born in Makkah and lived in this city for my whole life, and I got my bachelor’s degree in Arabic literature from Umm Alqura University in the same city. After I graduated, I tried to find a job there related to my major, but I did not find anything. I decided to apply for a scholarship through the Saudi government to come to the U.S. I came to the U.S in 2012 and I started learning English. I was planning to teach Arabic as a second language and the LTS program was the perfect program for me to achieve this goal. Therefore, I decided to apply. I have tutored Arabic learners and lead the Arabic circle in the Mills International Center when I was an English learner in the AEI. I also was involved in many activities to introduce Arabic culture to American and international students through the Saudi and Muslim Students’ Association of the UO. After I enrolled to the LTS program, I got a job as a language instructor in Umm Alqura university in my hometown, which I will start after I graduate from the LTS program.
Could you tell us about any internships or GE positions you had at the UO?
I did an internship to work with Arabic instructors at the UO in some Arabic language classes that focused on teaching modern standard Arabic and the Egyptian dialect. It was a great experience for me. I learned from the teacher a lot of things related to teaching Arabic in an EFL context with students speak the same native language. I got the chance to teach in these classes and I learned a lot from the experience such as managing class time. One big challenge was to teach Arabic by speaking English in the classroom. For example, explaining many grammar rules or explaining vocabulary meaning using the English language. Arabic language classes in the UO helped me to realize the challenges that students face when they communicate and interact with native speakers. Arabic diglossia was the main challenge. The students were learning in most of their classes the Modern Standard Arabic which is used in very formal context such as academic context while native speakers use their own dialect to communicate with each other. The standard and the spoken languages are very different and it was hard for the students to understand native speakers when they speak. After spending some time helping students to realize the differences between the standard and the dialect, and after attending a Arabic class that focus on teaching the Egyptian dialect, I realized that the main difference is the pronunciation. That led to the focus on teaching pronunciation to clarify the problem of comprehensibility and intangibility in the communication between Arabic learner and native Arabic speakers.
Could you tell us a little bit about the ideas that you have for your Master’s project?
My Master’s project focuses on integrating teaching Pronunciation In Arabic curricula as a second language through some activities. I focus on both segmental and suprasegmental features for modern standard Arabic and the western Saudi dialect. My goal is to help students learn how to use what they’ve been learning in the modern standard Arabic language classes to interact and communicate with native speakers. Learning more about the differences in the the sound systems for both varieties of Arabic can help them avoid a lot of intelligibility and comprehensibility problems.
What is the most valuable thing that you’ve learned during your time at the UO?
Professors at the UO, especially the LTS program, have different teaching styles than most professors in my country. One main valuable thing that I learned is how a great teacher should be. Other valuable things that I learned and appreciated during my time in the program are the teacher and peer feedback in the classroom, the classroom discussions, the microteaching activities and practice that I have had during my learning journey. It helped me to apply and experience a lot of things that I learned theoretically in the program, and it helped to shape my teaching perspective and style. Finally, I learned that language is more than vocabulary and grammar rules. Also, culture is always associated with learning languages; therefore, including pragmatic, sociolinguistic and suprasegmental aspects is very important to teaching a language effectively.
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.
From Left to Right: Duong Hong Anh, Kainat Shaikh, Irene Njenga, Suparada Eak-in
This end-of-term Student Spotlight is a special “goodbye” to our dear friends, colleagues, and classmates from the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program. The Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon has hosted these four lovely language teachers throughout the 2016-2017 school year, and the LTS cohort has had the wonderful opportunity to study along side them in the various Language Teaching courses they participated in. The YLC has been proud to welcome the FLTA’s without whom 4 of the 8 Self Study Program languages would not be available to the UO students and community. Now that Spring term is over, each scholar will soon be heading back to her home country, and the LTS program would like to recognize and remember the wonderful experiences we got to share with them!
Tell us about yourselves! Where are you from? What kind of work have you done? Any hobbies?
I am Anh Duong. I come from Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. I am an English instructor at the University of Languages and International Studies back in my home country. I was granted the Fulbright scholarship last year and came to UO to study and work as an FLTA. About my personal life; I love music, movies, traveling, reading, and taking pictures. Since I came here, I have taken up cubing, basketball, and playing the guitar as my new hobbies.
I am from Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan. I work at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), so currently I am on leave as I am availing the Fulbright Fellowship. I teach graduates and undergraduates majoring in English Literature and Linguistics. I like reading books, and writing critical reviews. I enjoy traveling, especially to the places which have had a rich history.
My name is Irene Njenga, and I am from the central region of Kenya. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics and a Master’s in Education, both from the University of Nairobi. Before coming to UO, I had worked in two places. My first job was at Dadaab Refugee Camp (Kenya) as the officer in-charge of the Accelerated Learning Program, and my second job was as an English teacher at Mukurwe High School (Kenya). I enjoy traveling and socializing with people from different cultures because it opens my mind to new ways of thinking and stimulates my creative problem-solving skills. I also enjoy swimming, cooking, reading novels, listening to music and watching movies.
My name is Suparada Eak-in. I am from Thailand. Back in Thailand, I worked as a lecturer of English in the Department of English and as a Deputy Director of the International Office at Mahanakorn University of Technology. My specialization is Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Teaching English for Specific Purposes. I taught EAP and ESP to non-English majors including Engineering, IT and Business students. In my free time, I like learning new languages, doing art and working out. Now, I am learning four languages: Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese by myself. I also draw and take pictures. My favorite exercises are jogging, Thai boxing and yoga.
Tell us about teaching at the UO as an FLTA! What is that like?
One of my key missions in the US is to teach Vietnamese to both students at UO and community members at the YLC. I appreciate the chance to teach my native language and share Vietnamese culture with American people as well as heritage students. Thanks to the Self Study Program at YLC, with small-size classes but extensive interaction with students, I have precious opportunities to listen to many individual stories, enabling better understanding of American culture as well as my own culture.
The YLC is the place to grow professionally, interdependently and culturally. I never taught Hindi/Urdu before coming to US, though it is the national language of Pakistan. I, being a native speaker, learned a lot about my culture, language and country by staying oceans away and that’s not only remarkable but a kind of liberating feeling.
Although I have been teaching for one year before becoming part of YLC, participating in the program has provided me an insight to see language teaching not as a way to show how languages are different from one another, but as a platform to let me explore how languages all around the world are spoken in their natural, cultural and raw forms. So, in order to completely imbibe in this language teaching experience, I myself decided to learn a new language. I attended classes of Turkish. New language gives a new lens to view the world. As such it may seem that speaking different languages actually makes us different from one another but actually learning a new language makes one feel connected to the wider community which is not one’s own. In one place, where creating borders may divide us, but learning new languages can unite us, this is my takeaway from YLC.
Swahili is one of the easiest languages to learn! Although a biased view, it is true that Swahili is not a tonal language, has a fixed stress pattern, and words are spelled exactly how they are pronounced i.e. no silent letters! Teaching Swahili at the UO has been very rewarding. It has also been a great opportunity to interact with new cultures and incorporate Swahili culture into language teaching. I believe that my students enjoyed the lessons and gained competence in using the language. This has also helped me refine my teaching skills and familiarity with using the communicative approach in teaching grammar. I never discussed grammar in a tabular form and very rarely used grammar technical terminology.
Teaching Thai at YLC is different from teaching English at my university in Thailand. Firstly, YLC classes are small with no more than fifteen students. This provides me the opportunity to get to know my students more so I can facilitate their language learning more properly. Moreover, YLC offers the Self Study Program which places emphasis on the students’ needs. The challenge is to compromise/balance students’ individual needs and prepare the lessons to serve their needs efficiently. Lecture-based and commercial textbooks seem not to correspond with YLC students’ learning styles and goals. Thus, I mainly implemented a theme-based method in my classes. I set the themes according to the students’ needs and designed interactive activities to engage students in learning. I found that the students enjoyed learning and improved their skills proficiently.
What classes did you take during your time at UO? Did you have any other projects that you worked on? What was the most valuable thing you’ve gained from your experience here?
Apart from teaching Vietnamese, I also attended some classes, two of which were Teaching English Culture and Literature, and Testing and Assessment in the LTS Program. The most significant thing I took from these classes is the inspiration from my professors and classmates. I especially enjoy the lively and thought-provoking discussions with different points of view and practical projects in teaching that will benefit my own teaching in the future.
I enrolled myself in three courses, one course per term. My grant with Fulbright ensures that I grow strong academically by taking the classes that can serve my long term goals. Therefore, I took classes in LTS all three terms; Teaching Culture & Literature in Language Classrooms, Teaching Pronunciation, & Teaching and Assessment. My time with LTS cohort is worth treasuring as I met intelligent and creative people from various parts of the world.
From my entire year at UO, the most valuable asset that I have gained is to challenge the limits, and to outrun them.
I took classes in Language Teaching and International Studies. I worked on various projects like incorporating literature into English language teaching, education and culture in Kenya, as well as creating direct types of assessment. The most valuable thing I have gained is that language teaching can be fun. I have learned how to use different scaffolding activities in teaching language, classroom management techniques, key assessment principles, and skills in creating and/or adopting assessment tools and procedures for the language classroom.
I took two classes in LTS and one class in Linguistics. The classes in both programs provided me knowledge that I can apply in my teaching career. My favorite class was Teaching Pronunciation, which I took last term. I like this class most because I did not only learn the contents but also had opportunities to practice. Besides, I like observing the techniques that Dr. Patricia Pashby used in class. I found those techniques useful and worked well with my students.
Apart from teaching and learning, I worked as a cultural ambassador in the ICSP at UO. I presented Thailand and Thai culture to school students and senior communities in Eugene. It is a great opportunity to meet and talk with local people outside of the university and have productive cultural exchanges.
Any plans for the future, or final thoughts you would like to share?
My gratitude goes to the Fulbright program for giving me a chance to come to the US, meet amazing people, and share my story.
When I go back to Pakistan, I will resume my teaching, but there will be entirely different teaching methodologies. I will be working on making classes more student-centered where students should take responsibility of their learning. I learned a lot about testing and assessment this last term, and it has completely changed my perception towards language teaching. I am really looking forward to using the new teaching and testing trends which can ensure learning for not just a fleeting moment but for a life-time.
Irene leaves us with her favorite quote:
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.
I believe that despite the obstacles we face when pursuing our dreams, we should always be focused and keep working to realize them.
All of these experiences make me eager to go back and share them with my colleagues and students back home. I also want to better develop teaching methodology and education in my home country.
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.
Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What previous work have you done? Any hobbies?
I hail from Portland, Oregon but enjoyed a well-spent six years in Boulder, Colorado during which I completed an M.A. in Comparative Literature. I have worked as a Spanish-English bilingual legal assistant for an immigration attorney, coffee slinger, mentor to at-risk Bolivian youth, aerobics instructor at a home for the elderly in Cuba, writing tutor, and freelance editor.
My hobbies include playing Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Eugene’s local Trek Theatre, rock climbing, laughing wildly, and going to fellow LTS-er Dan White’s UO Rubik’s Cube club.
Tell us about your work with NILI and learning Ichishkíin!
Far more than a hobby has been my involvement with the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) at the University of Oregon and learning the PCNW language Ichishkíin. It has been and is a privilege to both collaborate there and learn the language. While 25 languages were once spoken in Oregon and 25 in Washington, only one indigenous language class is available at UO. However, NILI supports many Native community members in their efforts towards self-determination and language revitalization. Collaborating there, through internships (from archiving Klamath-Modoc materials to creating mini-lessons for our Ichishkíin classroom), being an Ichishkíin student, and volunteering at the annual two-week Summer Institute has meant supporting those efforts.
Tell us a little bit about your Master’s project!
During the Summer Institute, teacher training happens for Native community members, as well as curriculum and materials development and other educational related endeavors in classrooms and events. I have participated in Lushootseed classrooms and mapping workshops. The latter led by LTS instructor and NILI Associate Director of Educational Technology Robert Elliott; my own final MA project has morphed into a relatedly inspired project with him as my advisor. I will be using ideas ranging from paper map creation to cyber-cartography to adapt existing Ichishkíin materials into new ones. This both fulfills the mission of creating new materials for language use in the spirit of the Ichishkíin classes I have taken, as well as repurposing existing materials that contain indispensable language knowledge provided by first speakers. These materials will be either teacher created, designed to be student created, or teacher created yet student manipulated.
What is the most valuable thing about the LTS program for you up until this point?
These NILI & Ichishkíin based experiences have blended richly, poignantly, and distinctively with my other work during the LTS program (including an internship at the American English Institute), as many of the pedagogical circumstances are unique and require accordingly unique approaches and considerations. This is where place-related learning and everyday-relevant language learning became fulcrum to my internal gravitation towards effective, hands-on, collaborative, experiential, and multidisciplinary educational frameworks and experiences.
For me, the most valuable part of LTS has been precisely this co-habitation of the typical program route and my experiences with NILI. I am deeply grateful for both.