I am thrilled to introduce you to current LTS student Yumiko Omata!
Hi Yumiko! Please tell the world a little bit about yourself:
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!