Yumiko exploring the University of Washington campus before presenting at the Third Northwest Conference on Japanese Pedagogy.
This summer term we are highlighting the final M.A. projects of the soon to be graduating LTS cohort on the blog. For this week’s post, we are pleased to feature Yumiko Omata and Zach Patrick-Riley.
Hi Yumiko! What is your M.A. project about?
My project is to develop an interactive Japanese course for intermediate-level students in a US university in order to foster learner autonomy and intercultural competence. The highlight of the course is telecollaborative language learning between university students in the US and Japan.
How did you become interested in this topic?
I wanted to provide students contextualized learning opportunities. Telecollaboration has great potential to allow students collaborate in a virtual space and engage in interactions with native speakers regardless of geographical constraints.
As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?
I am excited about integrating flipped learning into a blended language learning environment (face-to-face classroom + virtual classroom) using multimodal technologies. Thank you for inspiring me, Jeff!
Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?
Enjoying nature – Hiking and camping
Back to the studio — Taking ceramic classes would be delightful.
Zach enjoying the view on top of Spencer’s Butte in Eugene.
Hi Zach! What is your M.A. project about?
My project is a teaching portfolio focused on improving Brazilian English language learners’ phonological competence in preparation for the Cambridge FCE Speaking Exam (and beyond). The activities I have created help students better produce and interpret English prosody, which has been shown to affect perceptions of intelligibility and meaning.
How did you become interested in this topic?
I’ve always loved teaching English pronunciation, probably due to my background in singing and acting. One of my biggest takeaways from the LTS program has been the importance of developing learners’ pragmatic competence in conjunction with any skill. In doing research, I discovered English language learners often have a difficult time interpreting and producing prosodic features such as intonation and pitch variation, which can cause negative perceptions/communicative issues. I saw the opportunity to connect this phonological training to the FCE speaking exam, a high-stakes proficiency test in Brazil and around the world. Quality exam preparation materials already exist, so my goal has been to consider dynamic approaches in designing the materials I offer.
As LTS faculty member Jeff Magoto asks, in your opinion, what is the coolest/most interesting part about your project?
I think the coolest thing about my project is how it empowers learners to improve their phonological competence more autonomously and feel more confident in their own style of communicating.
Anything on your Eugene summer bucket list?
I just want to make the most out of my final month living here in Eugene. I will really miss the friends I have made, so my main priority is to treasure the remaining moments together (for now at least). Besides that, I want to continue exploring Oregon’s beautiful landscapes.
Hi Sean! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself.
Sean at one of his art gallery shows.
I’m a Kentucky native, but my interest in Chinese carried me away from there to spend a good chunk of my twenties studying in China, and eventually here in Oregon. I remember when I was a kid, I was fascinated by the idea that different people had different ways of speaking and writing, and longed to study foreign language. In high school, I was finally able to study my first foreign language which happened to be German. I enjoyed studying German, but it was only once I was able to study Chinese as an undergraduate that I truly fell in love with another language, and I’ve never looked back. Outside of school, art and in particular, painting, has been one of my life-long passions and I’ve been fortunate to have a couple gallery shows since I moved to Eugene.
You are quite the jack of all trades! So how did you end up in the LTS program?
I believe I first heard about it from the instructor for my Chinese linguistics course here at UO.
What has been your focus in the program?
In participating in this program, my aim has been to gain the tools and knowledge to effectively utilize my experiences learning Chinese as a second language to inform my teaching of the language. I believe my project represents a culmination of this effort, as it addresses a specific need of Chinese learners that’s not accounted for in current curriculum—bridging the gap between English reading and Chinese reading—which I recognized as a problem from my own experiences.
Sounds like a great project! And you mentioned you are a GE (graduate employee) for Japanese literature, how’s that experience been?
It’s been going great. While I’m normally a GE for the Chinese department, teaching in the Japanese department is always a refreshing change of pace, and through the works we read, I get to see the cultural and linguistic exchanges between the two countries throughout history.
Sean presenting at the LTS poster session.
Are you excited to start working on your MA project?
Yes, I really feel good about my project. I’ve received some really positive feedback from Chinese department faculty about the idea, and I think it’s possible it may lead to some serious consideration for adding a Chinese extensive reading course to the curriculum.
Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Best of luck in the completion of the program!
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!
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 experiences have you had at UO? Any hobbies?
I am from Tokyo, Japan. I have lived in Eugene, Oregon for about 7 years. I graduated from Tokyo Woman’s Christian University and got an English teacher’s license in Japan, but I did not want to be an English teacher who doesn’t speak English fluently. This made me come to the States seven years ago. I graduated from the University of Oregon in 2016 with a Linguistics major and a Dance minor, and I worked at the Japanese Immersion Elementary School in Eugene as a Bilingual Educational Assistant in my last academic year. I helped students in both English and Japanese classes. I also did private tutoring with some students from 1st to 5th grades. That tutoring experience was completely different than the assistant position at the elementary school. I learned about time-management and project-based teaching, and I could create some materials and activities based on each student’s motivation for learning Japanese.
I like dancing. When I was an undergraduate student, I was in some faculty/student concerts put on by the Dance Department. I used to practice ballet a lot, but now I like modern dance more because I met some great modern dance teachers here at UO. I love singing and listening to music. When I feel stressed during midterms or finals week, I sing aloud and that makes me feel better.
You’re the leader for the Japanese Language Circle. Can you share with us what that’s like?
Even though my focus is “teaching English,” I am still interested in and working on teaching Japanese also because of my previous experience in the field. From Fall term 2016, I have been a leader of the Japanese Language Circle at the Mills International Center. Both Japanese learners and native Japanese speaking students come to this circle and every week we have different people. It is not a class or anything, but certain people come every week and we are building a new community. We mostly have conversations. As a leader, I pick some random topics for each week, such as current events, Japanese or American culture differences and similarities, and new terms or trends both in Japan and in the States. I do not know how other languages run the circles, but I decided to make slides and set some target topics because our circle is sometimes quite big. If you are interested in the Japanese Language Circle, please go check this website!
What is the topic of your Master’s project? Can you tell us about it?
My Master’s Project is titled “The Effective Usages of L1 with a Plurilingual Approach in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in Junior High English Curriculum in Japan”. By 2020, Japan will implement a major reform of the English education curriculum in junior and senior high schools in which English classes will be taught as “English only” in response to globalization. It is the government’s decision but teachers are seeking more effective ways to transition to only English use in the classroom. I am exploring the benefits of using the first language, in this case Japanese, in English as a Foreign Language classrooms, especially with novice learners. My Master’s Project is a research-based teaching portfolio that illustrates options for how teachers and students can use Japanese effectively to transition to an English-only CLIL classroom. I would propose some solutions for this new approach of English Education in Japan.
What is the most valuable thing that you have learned/done in the LTS program?
Since I got the Second Language Acquisition Teaching (SLAT) certificate when I was in undergrad, I had a flexible schedule in Fall and Winter terms, so I was able to take some classes from the EALL (East Asian Language and Literature) department. I have learned Japanese pedagogical phonetics, and Japanese and Korean syntax. They were phenomenal experiences for me because even though I had some Japanese linguistics courses in Japan, it was completely different than the ones offered in the States. My target learners share the first language, in this case Japanese, so it was good to see Japanese linguistics from different angles.
Another thing that I really like about this LTS program is that we have a cohort system. That makes me feel like I am a part of the LTS program. Every student has completely different and unique learning and teaching experiences. All the feedback and comments that I get in class (sometimes outside of class also!) are very precious and always making my rigid way of thinking more flexible. In our community, we’ve been building up our relationships since last Fall term (some are from last Summer term), so I feel comfortable to give and receive positive suggestions and feedback.
I’m originally from Louisiana, but I’ve lived about half of my life in Oregon. I’m definitely a fan of the cold and rain over the heat! I received my bachelor’s from Western Oregon University where I double majored in English Linguistics with TEFL certification, and Spanish Linguistics. In my spare time, I love spending time with my 5-year-old daughter, watching anime, singing, and writing.
Tell us about the work you do in the LTS program and at the University of Oregon in general. What kind of internships have you done?
I began the LTS program in Summer 2015 and although I had planned to graduate in one year and begin teaching immediately, I decided to take two years to complete the program instead so that I could take advantage of the many opportunities the LTS program has to offer.
During my time in LTS, I have done internships at CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies), AEI (American English Institute), LCC (Lane Community College), and an internship abroad at TIU (Tokyo International University). I’ve also worked at AEI as a Conversation Partner/Help Desk Tutor and Activities Lead, CAPS (Center for Asian and Pacific Studies) as an English Tutor for the Shanghai Xian Dai architect exchange program, Mills International Center as the English Conversation Circle Lead, and CASLS as a Spanish Assessment Rater. There are so many opportunities to gain experience in both campus jobs and internships that really help to grow your CV!
I’ve also taken advantage of the many professional development opportunities present for LTS students. I presented my project research at the 2016 UO Grad Forum, which gave me the chance to present my work in a professional setting in front of other graduate students and faculty from departments across the university. I hope to present again this year as well because it was such a great experience. I also got the chance to present my research in an AEI Professional Development Friday poster session for AEI faculty. Outside of the university, I will be presenting at two big conferences. In March, I will present at the 2017 International TESOL Convention in the Electronic Village in Seattle, WA, and in June, I will present at the 2017 IALLT (International Association for Language Learning Technology) in Moorhead, MN.
Since you’re on the two-year plan, you’ve had a head start on your MA project. Would you tell us a bit about that?
When I first entered the LTS program, I had no idea what I wanted to do for my MA project. I’ve always been interested in creative writing, and I write fiction as a hobby, but I didn’t think that it would be something I could focus on. I thought that I should focus on something more typical like grammar or pronunciation; however, I was wrong! That’s one of the great things about LTS. You can really tailor your MA project to focus on what you’re passionate about, so long as there’s a need and a relevant connection to language teaching. For me, creative writing is a way to express yourself, create new worlds and characters that you wish existed, or to escape from reality every once in a while. So, I decided to focus on designing a creative writing English course. However, after doing a few internships at CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies) where much of the focus is on the intersection between gaming and language learning, I was inspired to design a creative writing course where students create a playable narrative-based game using ARIS, an open-source platform for creating mobile games and interactive stories. The focus of my project is on multi-literacies development using ARIS in a creative writing classroom. I’m really excited to hopefully teach this course in the future.
My department and LTS often share students in various ways. We have many concurrent degree students who are pursuing both Linguistic and EALL degrees. I also send my students to take LTS courses, and LTS students take my courses. Also one of LTS graduates, Yukari Furikado-Koranda, is now a colleague of mine in my department! It’s wonderful to work with her. You can see more about the collaboration between EALL and LTS here.
What is a current research project you are working on?
I am working on a project that looks at characteristics and constraints of speech learning, and another that looks at how people use voice to sound polite.
What do you enjoy most about working with graduate students?
I really enjoy working with grad students discussing and designing interesting and innovative research methods to address their research questions.
Keisuke Musashino, a native of Chiba, Japan, has taught Japanese immersion classes at Mt. Tabor Middle School in Portland since 1998. Prior to finding his place in Portland, Keisuke spent a year in Tennessee as a student on a study abroad program and three years in Georgia as a student. Having been a duck since last June, he enjoys everything the “tracktown” offers and spending time in the library.
Why did you choose to come to the LTS program?
The short answer is that I felt that I needed to study more about teaching language. Here is a longer version: when I was invited to be an intern at Mt. Tabor in 1997, I had no training in teaching the Japanese language. A short teacher training course over the summer before starting my internship and the internship experience itself really got my feet wet for teaching, and it did not take much time for me to realize the different culture of teaching and learning in the US, and complexity of teaching Japanese to middle school immersion students. Furthermore, being a classroom teacher at a public school gives you a whole lot of responsibility in and outside of classroom. So, I learned many things the hard way.
At my school, my colleague and I worked for several years to create a curriculum for each grade level emphasizing both Social Studies content and Japanese language. My responsibility is teaching the language (including grammar), mostly through thematic units. Without extensive knowledge about the Japanese language and how to teach it, I have basically taught myself how to do it using whatever resources available. That ignited my desire to go back to school, so I decided to take a leave of absence for a year. As I started looking for institutions, I thought about the U of O based on the location and knowing that they take a leadership role in teaching languages with CASLS. Then I ran into the LTS website and was really intrigued with what the program would offer. After communicating with Keli by e-mail, I was convinced that the LTS program would give me the best learning opportunity. Plus, I could get to live in Eugene for a year! So, it was an easy choice for me.
What advice would you give to other experienced teachers who are interested in the LTS program?
There are so many good things about this program. First of all, I think this is a rare program that has a really good balance between theory and practice, and even teachers with years of experience will be able to learn a lot from each class the program offers. In addition to the core classes such as lesson planning, curriculum design and assessment design, students can also take some elective classes based on their needs. For example, I took classes about discipline management, Japanese pedagogical grammar and another pedagogy class specifically for East Asian languages. They are all important for me as a teacher who teaches middle school Japanese immersion classes. Also, if you have teaching experience, you can really reflect on your past teaching practices with what you learned in class and share your experience with your classmates who are just entering the profession. Also, I should note that the program can be completed in five terms (starting in the summer term and ending in the summer term in the following year) – that was another reason why I chose the program. I felt I could get the most out of my year-long study leave. Oh, one more thing – this is a wonderful learning community with caring professors and energetic/fun classmates! I feel I am fortunate to be able to get to know them, study with them, socialize with them and run with them (please see the post about LTSEOTT – LTS Eye of the Tiger – on this blog!). I would honestly say my passion for teaching is even stronger now.
What is your MA project on?
The student body in the Japanese immersion program has become more linguistically diverse, and the class size has also become larger (typical for public schools, I guess). Besides, teaching middle school students is sometimes challenging. They are somewhere between children and adults, are usually honest, but very self-conscious, and have different interests and learning styles. With all those elements, I struggled with reaching all the students last year and keeping them motivated. That experience inspired me to investigate challenges specifically in the middle school immersion context, L2 identity, motivation and differentiated instruction. Based on the findings, I would like to create examples of teaching materials for my class that I can use when I go back to my school after finishing the program.
What are you most looking forward to in your remaining time in the program?
I cannot believe there is only one term left. While I really enjoyed all the classes I took in the last four terms and the experience of working with students in the second-year Japanese students as a GTF for the Fall and Winter term, I am most definitely excited about giving my full attention to my final project this summer. Also, as I only have a week until I go back to my school after graduating in August, I look forward to enjoying the summer weather in Eugene, being outside whenever I can, hanging out with my wonderful classmates and just having fun.
Maile Warrington just finished her capstone MA project in the LTS program, titled “Authentic Japanese Media Materials for Teaching Keigo (Honorific Speech) and Different Speech Styles to JFL Learners”.
What is your MA project?
I developed a teaching portfolio that provides options for Japanese instructors to teach keigo (Japanese honorifics/honorific speech) to college intermediate to advanced-level students through authentic Japanese media materials, specifically authentic contemporary Japanese talks shows and comedy shows.
Why did you choose this topic?
Using appropriate keigo and speech styles is one of the most important aspects of Japanese culture. However, ironically, it is usually not taught in balance and is said to be the one of the most difficult language aspects to acquire. I was a Japanese language Graduate Teaching Fellow for almost two years, and got many comments from students and teachers about how hard and challenging it is to both learn and teach appropriate speech styles only through the textbook. Many students will talk to their instructors using inappropriate speech styles and thus are “rude” unintentionally. From these experiences, I started to think that there should be a way to teach honorifics and different speech styles meaningfully and interactively using materials other than the traditional textbook.
What advice would you give new LTS students about their own MA projects?
The most important advice I would like to give new LTS students about the project is to try to decide the topic as soon as possible so that they can start gathering related research and literatures about that topic in the earlier stage of their program. I also advise students to (this might be something that I don’t even have to mention) choose the topic that most interests them so they can maintain their motivation throughout the program. Another advice is to use and manage their time efficiently, especially at the end of the program when they are trying to finish up their project.
What do you like most about your portfolio?
One of the things that I like about my project is how I used authentic Japanese talk shows and comedy shows as a material to teach different honorifics and speech styles instead of movies or dramas that are more common to be incorporated in language classes. I also liked how many of my activities for this portfolio could serve as “stand-alone” activities, which Japanese instructors could pick, modify, and integrate in their pre-developed daily lessons.