Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

July 23, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

MA Project Spotlight Ben Pearson

Ben Pearson is an LTS graduate student originally from Salem.  Ben will graduate in summer 2015.Ben_P

What is your MA project?

My project is a materials portfolio on how to use certain board and card games to teach negotiation skills to ESL learners. Essentially, this portfolio will give teachers some fresh ideas on how games can be used to teach and some sample activities to try out for themselves.

What inspired you to choose this topic?

One of my hobbies is playing analog games of all different kinds, but I was not sure if that could transfer over to a very robust MA project. I was taking a course on pragmatics at the time and one day the class discussed how games can offer several opportunities for learners to engage in authentic discourse and practice speech acts in a safe, fabricated environment. However, I noticed that there was a large amount of research done on digital games, not analog. From there, I knew that my topic could fill a gap in the research out there as well as give me a chance to bring one of my favorite hobbies into my work.

What has been most challenging about doing the project (or what advice would you give new LTS students about the project)?

One of the more challenging issues that I have run into is not getting sufficient needs analysis data for my project. I have not received as many responses to my survey as I would have liked, so I am now trying to get in touch with students that I have taught in the past to see if they would be willing to help me out. My advice is to manage your time effectively when it comes to your project and to have plenty of backup plans ready if anything goes wrong.

What do you like best about your project?

It gives me a chance to flex my creative muscles which have admittedly atrophied due to different obligations and assignments which require more linear thinking. I also like the idea that someone else could continue the work of my project in the future and create some activities based off of new games that have not been created yet.

July 16, 2015
by Tiffany VanPelt

MA Project Spotlight Kelsey Hertel

Kelsey is a current LTS student.  Her MA Project is titled:  Integrating American English pragmatic instruction in tourism training programs in Latin America: A materials portfolio.


What is your MA Project?

I am creating a materials portfolio that will teach American English pragmatic instruction in tourism training programs in Latin America. The point of this project is to implement my materials into these programs so that tour guides trained there will be able to communicate with American tourists more easily and effectively, ensure quality customer service, and increase their profits.


What inspired you to choose this topic?

When I was traveling in South and Central America last year, I did a lot of different tour programs and treks throughout the region.  I noticed a very large disconnect between American English pragmatics and the way the tour guides were communicating with the tourists from the United States.  Because of this, the tourists felt offended at times or felt disrespected – and it wasn’t at all intentional. The tour guides just weren’t aware that their methods of communication were incorrect or inappropriate when speaking English and were creating these unsuccessful transactions with their clients.  I realized then that there was a huge need for this kind of pragmatic instruction in their English and tourism training programs.


What is the best thing about your MA Project?  What’s made it challenging?

What advice would you give incoming LTS students about the MA Project?

Pick a topic that you love, that really inspires you, and that you could possibly use in the future.  You will be spending so much time on so many different areas and aspects of this project, that you should love it and love spending the time on it.  Having a personal connection makes it so much more doable, easy, and enjoyable!

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