LTS News: LTS alumni are now language teachers
This page is a Linguistics newsletter article from 2012. Although the stories told below are from that particular year, they represent well the successes of our graduates. Additional alumni stories can be found on our LTS blog.
The Language Teaching Specialization [Language Teaching Studies as of 2017] MA Program is now in its tenth year, and as the number of LTS graduates grows, so do the number of graduates who are now holding professional language- teaching positions, both inthe U.S. and abroad. We are proud of these alumni accomplishments, and would like to highlight some of them here (graduation dates are given after their names). Please note that this list is far from exhaustive!
Quite a few LTS graduates have found full or part-time teaching positions here at the University of Oregon. Many are at the American English Institute, such as Kelley McMinn (2007), Beth Sheppard (2008), Nate Soel- berg (2009), Emily Mathis (2010), Misti Williamson (2010), Marc Arndt (2011), Sean McClelland (2011), Ilsa Trummer (2011) and Neva Nicolato (2011). The classes they teach include Oral Skills, Reading, Writing, and Grammar, and various elec- tives in the Intensive English Program, with students’ levels ranging from complete beginners through advanced. Nate Soelberg comments, “Teaching at AEI after finishing the LTS program has been great. I continue to learn from the great teachers here, and now, in my third year teaching, I’ve been able to watch students who were once beginners start attending university classes. It is quite rewarding.” Beth Sheppard, who now also teaches Distance Education courses for English teachers around the world, writes, “I love teaching EFL educators because of their passion for the language and because of the sharing of ideas that enriches my own teaching as well.”
Other LTS graduates are teaching languages other than English at the University of Oregon, such as Bomi Oh, MA ’06, and Hyunmo Koo, MA ’11, in the Korean language program, Yukari Furikado, MA ’10, in Japanese, and Roger Jacob, MA ’10, at the World Languages Academy (WLA) [now the Yamada Language Center]. Bomi Oh, in fact, taught the first Korean language class offered at the UO through the WLA six years ago as a graduate teaching fellow, and now both teaches and develops curriculum from the 100 to 400 level in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. Roger Jacob has been team-teaching Ichishkin-Sahaptin (Yakama language) through the WLA with his mentor, Virginia Beavert. This course has an especially important role as one of the several WLA courses dedicated to revitalizing indigenous Pacific Northwest languages. Roger has also taught Ichishkin-Sahaptin in two high schools on the Yakama Reservation in Washington state, and will be returning there for the upcoming school year. Note that this list of LTS alumni does not include the many current graduate teaching fellows who are also teaching across language programs.
Not all locally employed graduates are strictly teachers, however; Li-Hsien Yang ’10, MA ’11, for example, is now working as a Chinese special projects assistant at the Center for Applied Second Language Studies. She coordinates the Oregon International Internship Program, designs online Mandarin Chinese curricula for high school- and university- level students, and participates in language assessment efforts with K–12 Chinese instructors in the Pacific Northwest.
A number of graduates have taken positions elsewhere in the U.S. and the world. Natsumi Ueno, MA ’09, is an instructor at the University of Vermont, where she teaches Japanese at the 100, 300, and 400 levels. She says her department is “small and homey, and everyone is nice and helpful.” She adds, “I enjoy teaching and am hoping to continue my career here and contribute as much as I can to the development of the program.” Marcella Crawford, MA ’10, after teaching for a year locally at the American English Institute, spent last summer teaching English at a summer camp for children in Switzerland, and is planning to return next summer. During the academic year she teaches in the American English and Culture Program at Arizona State University, and is “loving it so far.” Melanie Letai, MA ’11, returned to her homeland in Germany after graduating, and is now teaching various levels of English courses to business professionals at the international company Bosch. Most of these courses she designed herself. She notes, “I heard so many stories during my LTS times from people having to make up a curriculum and selecting books on their own when they worked as English instructors. I could therefore use my knowledge from various LTS courses when preparing my classes.” Paul Bournhonesque, MA ’08, not only teaches English but also is curriculum development committee leader at Seoul National University of Science and Technology in Korea. He is also in charge of much of the hiring of new teachers. He writes, “It is a tremendous amount of work and responsibility . . . but this type of problem-solving seems to suit me.”
It is not uncommon for teachers who already have had teaching positions to take leave from their jobs to obtain their MA degree with a language teaching specialization, then return to their positions afterwards with new experiences and perspectives to bring to their teaching. Sojung Cho, MA ’11, for example, taught English for four years at an academic high school in Suwon, Korea, before coming to Oregon, and has returned there with renewed ambition and expertise. She writes, “Before I went to the UO, English teachers [in Korea] had to mainly focus on reading, listening, and grammar. But now it is changing and teaching communication skills (listening and speak- ing, in some cases writing as well) is gaining considerable importance.”
Although language teaching is a fast-growing field, the teaching positions these graduates have found require a high level of competence and professionalism, and are often quite competitive. Their success reflects their high qualifications, hard work, and enthusiasm for their students and their teaching. We hope to see many more such graduates in the future.