LTS

Language Teaching Specialization Blog Site at the University of Oregon

June 3, 2017
by gkm
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Student Spotlight – Reeya Zhao

Student Spotlight – Reeya Zhao

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.

May 19, 2017
by gkm
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Student Spotlight – Joliene Adams

Student Spotlight – Joliene Adams

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.

May 5, 2017
by gkm
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Student Spotlight – Juli Accurso

Student Spotlight – Juli Accurso

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is your previous experience before coming to UO? Any hobbies? Etc.

I was born and raised in Casstown, Ohio. It is a small farming town that topped out at 267 people at the last Census. I guess an updated stat would be 266. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in French and Linguistics at Ohio’s first university, Ohio University (Go Bobcats!). My time in Athens is where my interest in language learning and teaching was cultivated. To date, I have more experience being a language learner than a language teacher. In 2012, I studied abroad in Avignon, France. After the term finished, I moved to Saint-Marcel-les-Sauzet and was a WWOOFer at a bed and breakfast. (WWOOF is an acronym for the organization, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farmers, and a WWOOFer is someone who volunteers their time at an organic farm or the like in exchange for room and board). I was learning French in the wild. It was exhilarating. So much so that I returned in 2014 for a second stay. Although I didn’t know it at the time, WWOOFing really helped inform my philosophy on language teaching & learning.

  • I know that you are a GE at the Jaqua Center. Could you tell us what that is like?

Yes, I’d love to! I’m the Writing Learning Assistant Graduate Employee for the Services for Student Athletes department. I tutor student athletes taking writing courses or courses with a heavy writing component. One of the perks about this position is that I get to bring what we learn in the LTS program with me to work. In addition to working with athletes in writing courses, I also tutor many of our international student athletes helping them with schoolwork and developing their English language skills. Working with the SSA staff and student athletes has been a really fun and rewarding part of graduate school. I love learning about each student’s story and, more importantly, watching it be written in real time. Different from teaching, I often work with students for several terms, which allows time to observe academic and athletic growth.

  • What is the most valuable aspect of the LTS program as you’ve experienced it thus far?

One aspect has been the opportunity to work collaboratively with fellow classmates. I’m a hands-on learner, so the opportunity to get our hands dirty with material, concepts, and teaching techniques has been very helpful.

 

April 21, 2017
by gkm
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Student Spotlight: Aska Okamoto

Student Spotlight: Aska Okamoto

  • 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!

https://sites.google.com/site/japanesecircle201617/

  • 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.

March 16, 2017
by gkm
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Student Spotlight – Valeria Ochoa

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? Where have you studied? Any hobbies?

I was originally born in S. Lake Tahoe, California but have spent most of my life in Las Vegas, NV. To stay close to home, I decided to attend the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. I got my B.A. in Romance Languages (French and Spanish). During my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Pau, France and Heredia, Costa Rica. Both of these experiences studying abroad have helped to shape who I am now and fuel my love of language learning/teaching. It also helps that I love to travel (hard to find a language teacher that doesn’t), and I sincerely enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds. One more fun fact about myself is that I love watching/playing soccer. Go FCB!

You’re a GE for the Romance Languages department. What is that like?

Yes, for the past two terms I have taught first-year intensive Spanish. This course is intensive in that the students have already had at least two years of Spanish learning experience, so the class moves through the units quicker than if it were a class of true beginners. This upcoming term I am going to be teaching Spanish 203, so it will be interesting to see how much the learners are expected to know from the end of first year until this point. I look forward to being pleasantly surprised.

Teaching Spanish here at the UO has been insightful, but honestly quite exhausting at times. Balancing your personal needs and the needs of your students can get pretty tricky, but when you see how much your students are progressing, it makes the whole thing worthwhile. Teaching while doing LTS at the same time is not for the weak-hearted; however, I do think it serves as an invaluable experience in which you can directly apply what you are learning in LTS to a real class.

Can you tell us a little about the ideas for your Master’s project?

My master’s project is going to be a teaching portfolio for Spanish Heritage Language Learners (SHLLs). I am currently looking into creating activities that integrate service-learning, since heritage learners often report learning their heritage language for the purpose of connecting to their family members and their communities. As a SHLL myself, this project is especially important to me because I want to create a teaching portfolio that not only promotes language proficiency and community engagement, but that encourages heritage learners to value the knowledge they already have as rich and important. So far it has been extremely interesting and kind of fun to research these topics. I cannot wait to start the process of actually creating the activities!

Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose the LTS program? What are you looking forward to doing in your remaining time in the program?

Unfortunately, UNLV does not have a Linguistics department, and I was set on doing something related to linguistics for graduate school, so that meant I had to start looking for a place that suited me. Lucky for me, while searching through program after program, I ended up meeting my now fellow cohort companion, Becky Lawrence, on Facebook through mutual interests. After she explained that everything she was learning was directly applicable to real language teaching situations, I was convinced LTS was the place for me. I have not regretted my decision since. Many of my peers in other departments often tell me how they wish they would have done LTS rather than what they are doing. It feels good to know that I am in the right place.

One thing I am looking forward to doing is starting the process of collecting information from heritage learners and teachers for my master’s project. I want to know what they enjoy and do not enjoy about their SHL classes. I want to find ways to satisfy the needs of these learners, since we know their needs are different from that of L2 learners. It should hopefully be an enlightening and satisfying process.

 

Video Blog Update!

Valeria returns to update us on her GE experience, switching from teaching 1st-year Spanish to leading the 2nd-year course. She also shares with us how her project focus has evolved since joining the Master’s project class this Spring term!

February 15, 2017
by gkm
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Student Spotlight – Becky Lawrence

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

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.

January 26, 2017
by LTSblog
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LTS Alumni spotlight: Shannon Ball

Shannon in a moment of grammar teaching

Shannon Ball graduated from LTS in 2014 with a focus on teaching English. Her MA Project was titled Teaching Adult Community ESL through Children’s Literature and she now works full time at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. Shannon is an example of someone whose MA Project focus led her directly to a position that allows her to apply what she learned and created.

Where are you working now and what are you teaching?

I work at Lane Community College as an ESL instructor, an ESL Student Services Specialist, and an ESL Assessment Specialist. I love doing all of these jobs, because I get to know ALL of the students in the program, and not just the ones in my classes. I usually teach the low-beginning levels, but am currently teaching Writing and Grammar C, which is the third level of six in our Main Campus IEP. I love every minute of it!

What do you like best about what you do?

Just one thing?! I could really go on and on about what I like best about this job. The reason I got into this work in the first place was that I have a strong desire to contribute meaningfully to my community. The people who come through our program are active members of our community, and the benefits of their enrollment in our program are innumerable. When our students learn, they help other similar members of the community (their friends and family) by teaching them what they have learned and by encouraging them to come to the program as well. They get better jobs, which helps their families and the economy. They are able to participate more fully in the English-based education of their children by communicating better with teachers and engaging and helping with their school work. The effects go on and on. Another thing that I love about teaching to this community is that they come in highly motivated. They are so eager to learn, and to share what they already know with each other. I also love watching the relationships that my students develop. I had a couple of students last year who were different in every way: age (one was 21 and the other 63), culture, country of origin, L1, etc. But they sat together and helped each other in class, studied together after class, and spent time together on weekends, and the most amazing thing is knowing they are using English the whole time because it is their only common language. It’s a truly authentic application of the things they learn in the program, and it motivates them to learn even more!

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching (or life) now?

I think the most valuable thing I learned and honed in the program was to connect every aspect of your lessons to a common purpose or objective. Always asking, and encouraging your students to ask, why you are doing a certain activity promotes active learning. Class time seems so limited that you need to plan well and make the most of every minute!

Looking back, what advice would you give to current or future LTS students?

Take every opportunity you possibly can to volunteer, intern, or do a graduate teaching fellowship while you are in school. I know grad school is a very busy time, but this can both valuably inform your coursework and provide authentic hands-on experience. A lot of US schools tend to require a minimum of two years of classroom teaching experience, so it is also good for your resume! My other piece of advice is to make the program work for you. LTS is such a flexible program and really allows for creativity and encourages innovation. If you have an idea, go for it!

August 3, 2016
by Annelise Marshall
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MA Project Spotlight: Emily

EmilyLetcher (1 of 1) (1)Emily Letcher is from the Eugene area and is an alumnus of both the University of Oregon and the Second Language Acquisition & Teaching (SLAT) certificate program. This Fall she will begin teaching in Bangkok, Thailand.

What is the title of your MA project?

Teaching Interlanguage Pragmatics of Disagreement in a Secondary EFL Context Using Film and TV Shows

Why did you choose this topic?

I am very passionate about the study and use of critical thinking, logic and argumentation, both as a personal interest and also as a skill that I think ought to be taught. Before I began the LTS program, I had recently returned from Italy, where I was teaching debate in several of my high school conversation classes. That wonderful experience, and the students themselves, impressed upon me just how capable and enthusiastic our young adult students are at voicing their different beliefs and tackling contemporary issues. I don’t just want students to be able to express their opinions behind a podium though, I want them to be able to do so interpersonally, at an everyday, conversational level, and even when their opinion differs from the other person’s.

Of course, students do this in their own language already, but trying to disagree in a foreign language, with speakers of that language, opens up a whole new can of worms. There are so many sociocultural factors that go into deciding how to say what you say in order to have successful communication. Were you polite? Were you too direct? The quality of the argument you put forth won’t matter as much if you are not aware of these unwritten “rules” that are shared and understood by people from that language culture. I developed this project in order to provide concrete ways to help students recognize these pragmatic issues and choose how to respond to them, so that they will hopefully be able to more confidently and successfully express themselves in English.

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What do you like best about your project?

My project uses film and TV shows as the main method to teaching students about disagreement.
Films and TV shows are very important to me because of how they reflect our perceptions of reality and also project our ideals for it. They may not always be very academic, but I think they have the potential to reach and connect more people than anything else does, and that makes them invaluable. I could say so much more but I will simply say that I am very happy to be able to incorporate this huge part of my life into my project.

What advice would you give to future students about the MA project?

Choose something that you are passionate about, not because you’ll be spending every waking hour thinking about it, which you will, but because this is one of the best opportunities for you to learn more about something specific that interests you and to apply it in a way that is meaningful not just for you but for a whole audience. As a teacher, you will always be in a position to influence and inspire students. Regardless of whether you use this project with your students though, this is an immediate, tangible opportunity for you to also influence and inspire your current and future colleagues and possibly even the academic field. I have been inspired by all my cohort members’ work and am very proud to be graduating with them.

July 6, 2016
by Annelise Marshall
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Student Spotlight: Keisuke

CIMG2416Keisuke 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.

April 20, 2016
by Annelise Marshall
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Student Spotlight: Ava

Ava Swanson is originally from Harrisburg, Oregon. She graduated from LCC and UO before entering LTS. When she needs to destress from grad school responsibilities, she likes to play catch, eat burritos, and pet her fluffy guinea pigs.
 Ava in San Francisco
Why did you decide to join the LTS program?
 I came to the LTS program two years after completing my undergrad at University of Oregon. I studied Spanish, Latin American Studies, and also obtained a SLAT certificate. I worked some odd jobs after graduation and was trying to decide my next step. I knew it would be related to language teaching, so I interviewed some of the language teachers I knew about their personal and professional experiences that helped them get their current jobs. It was during an interview with Laura Holland, my former SLAT instructor, that the LTS program was brought to my attention. The program offered what I was looking for in terms of my professional development.
 
What is the topic of your MA project?
 My project is a materials portfolio for teachers of low-level immigrant students in a community ESL community. It’s based on the fact that while many immigrants move to the US for better economic and professional opportunities, many don’t have access to these opportunities if they aren’t literate in English. My lessons will use children’s literature books to help low-level students develop their literacy skills. An additional focus of the project is teaching these parent-students how to share the books read in class with their young children.  This helps parents practice their reading skills, develops children’s emergent literacy skills, and creates a culture of literacy in the home.
 
Why did you choose this topic?
 I chose to investigate literacy and children’s literature because I definitely grew up with a culture of reading in my home. My dad read to me often when I was young and trips to the library and bookstore were a regular occurrence. I still have a lot of my childhood books on my bookshelves. I love re-reading and sharing them with my younger family members as an adult. 
 I chose to focus on immigrant students for my target audience because I’ve met and learned about some really amazing people who have come to the US for better opportunities for themselves and their families. It can be really difficult to settle in a new country, especially when you don’t speak the majority language.
 
What are you looking forward to the most in your remaining time in LTS?
 Now that we’re nearing the end of the program, I’m really looking forward to showing my finished project to my family. They’re really happy that I’m pursuing my educational goals and my dad and my girlfriend have been especially supportive. I can’t wait to hand them my finished portfolio!
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