Studies in Linguistics

We are over halfway done with the semester, and I managed to escape Second Language Acquisition relatively unscathed, and withe a decent final grade. For the second half of the semester, I am enrolled in Studies in Linguistics, which so far has been an interesting and enlightening experience. Learning about how the brain processes information and the ways in which we can break down languages into smaller components has changed the way in which I view everyday language use. Right now we are focusing on morphemes, and the types of affixes that are in multiple languages. Next week is phonology and midterms, so wish me luck!

There is also an exciting opportunity for a paid internship through the State Library Grant to assist one of my professors with teaching citizenship English at local libraries around the Oklahoma City Metro. Stay tuned for updates on wether or not I get the job!

See you soon,

Miriah

Reflection: Second Language Acquisition

Over the past eight weeks, there are many things in this class that have challenged my preconceived notions about how humans acquire languages. Throughout the duration of this class, I have learned more about how humans develop language, and how that is applicable to my teaching.

I have learned that the seemingly simple question of ‘how do humans acquire language?” is a hotly debated topic that covers a wide range of disciplines and theories. Each of these theories contain certain truths that, in the end, piece together and try to answer this question to the best of our current knowledge about how the brain works and how that directly influences language learning.

As far as application in the classroom, the examples in the book did an excellent job of translating these theories into concrete classroom activities and scenarios that will be prevalent in the EFL/ESL classroom. Spada and Lightbown did an excellent job in explaining the significance and relevance of these theories which make this book, while challenging at times, a very intriguing read. Their melding of theories, along with research in the field through case studies, paint a picture of the SLA classroom that will mimic the classrooms that us as future EFL/ESL teachers will be living in daily. 

For how this has changed the ways in which I view teaching, this class made me reevaluate second language teaching that I have received in the past, what methods were used, and then forced me to reflect on if there could have been a better method to explain the materials in order to achieve internalization. I feel that this will be especially useful for me later in the degree program, when it gets closer to teaching others outside of a classroom setting. In my own classroom, I hope to take these theories and put them to the test. Through later curriculum development courses, I see myself using the theories discussed in this class at different stages to achieve a well rounded and effective teaching method. With my previous experience teaching, I recognize now the ways in which I can elevate my teaching beyond simple lecture based classes to encompass a wider variety of learning methods through interaction and involvement of the students in the learning process.

Overall, this class was challenging but also an extremely important part of the TESOL experience. Learning the theories behind why we teach the ways we do helps put into perspective the enormity of the subject and it’s importance in the EFL/ESL classroom.

Second Language Development and Case Studies

It’s almost the end of the second week of classes and we’ve been going at a pretty good clip through our course work. Here are some observations that I’ve had in my classes:

In second language acquisition, the text we are using is a book called How Languages are Learned by Patsy M. Lightbown and Nina Spada. In this book (coincidentally, my professor studied under Spada at the University of Toronto), we go over how primary and secondary languages are acquired by children and adults alike. It’s interesting to see several themes in my own second language acquisition journey reflected in this book, and makes me understand why, as an adult learner, I felt like I was incapable of learning a second language.

In Research and Writing, we are examining methods of research, both qualitative and quantitative, and coming up with research proposals for implementing case studies of our own in regards to our topic of citizenship English in Oklahoma City. I hope to come up with something that would be helpful in shaping my Master’s thesis, or at least something worth presenting at the annual TESOL conference in a year or two.

Next week I am traveling out of the country for two weeks to road trip around Iceland with friends, so I am interested to see how taking satellite courses impacts the rate at which I learn about the course material. One of the big reasons I chose this program was the faculty’s encouragement and willingness to let students travel during the semester.

Until next week,

Miriah

First Impressions

Now that week one is in the books, I wanted to give you some first impressions that I had in regards to the program, coursework, and just how many options there really are in the field of TESOL.

The TESOL program at Oklahoma City University is diverse in age range, nationality, and purpose, which I think makes this a very well rounded program. Class sizes range from 8-12 people, and in one class we have traditional and non-traditional students, international students from Korea, China, Japan, and Singapore, and interests range from teaching English in their home country through the TESL program, linguistics research, and teaching abroad.

There are also a surprising amount of available extracurricular activities relating to TESOL studies. We have opportunities to help instruct citizenship English lessons at local libraries for recent immigrants who are looking to pass the citizenship exam, as well as helping international students from Japan’s Kindai University on improving their English proficiency and pronunciation.

As for the coursework, it seems fairly standard. Research and writing of course has a 12 page research paper, but that’s about it. I’ve been writing those in my sleep since my undergrad in Religion back in 2007-2011. Really where the most learning is going to happen will be in Second Language Acquisition. Here we are delving into best practices for learners of second languages and most effective teaching methods, as well as trying to understand how people acquire a second language.

Before I applied for this program, I had been researching TESOL intensive classes that are designed to prepare and certify people that were strictly wanting to teach abroad. I’m certain that while these weekend seminars would have served their purpose as far as getting a certification, now that I am enrolled in a Master’s program, I am glad that I didn’t take that route.

This program not only opens doors for me as far as teaching abroad, but having professors that have connections with some of the top schools in Asia, Europe, and the Americas certainly makes finding a job 1000x easier than if I had tried to do it on my own.

Even if I decided that I didn’t want to teach abroad after graduation, I have learned that current Masters students are already placed in adjunct professor positions throughout the state (side note, it has always been my dream to be called Professor). There are also numerous opportunities for publication and research positions in this program, and I plan on taking full advantage of that!

So for me, it’s a no brainer to take advantage of the path that I have set for myself. I’m looking forward to learning more about the program, and more about the opportunities that come with being a Master in TESOL!

Miriah

First Day Anticipation

Tomorrow is graduate orientation, and Monday I finally begin my journey to receiving my Master in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages! I’m going into this program with a small amount of trepidation, and an even larger amount of absolute excitement! I honestly didn’t expect to ever go back to school after I completed my first Master’s in 2014. I told myself I was done with school and was never going to look back.

The universe has a funny was of proving what you thought you knew to be true was nothing but LIES!

Along with the excitement for being in a classroom setting again (which is where I feel like I really thrive), I also remember why I never wanted to enter into academia again. I forgot about the circular conversations (don’t even get me started on trying to get signed up for classes with my advisor), adapting to ‘professor time’ (as a punctual person, this hurts my heart), and as a non-traditional student, listening to the problems of people 10 years younger than me (It makes me want to shake them and scream, “You have no idea! This is nothing! You know nothing!”) knowing that I was once standing exactly where they are.

I am very fortunate that I was able to complete my undergraduate and my Master’s degree with very little student loan debt. I will be funding the majority of this degree with the help of student loans, as well as my job, and I think that it not only makes me appreciate this experience more, but it makes me even more driven to pursue a job relevant to my degree. After all, what is the point of 3 separate degrees unless you are able to use them?

My classes this semester are:

  • TESL 5003 Research and Writing
  • TESL 5103 Studies in Linguistics
  • TESL 5123 Second Language Acquisition

I’m looking forward to sharing my first impressions and experiences with you throughout this process, and throughout my whole journey at Oklahoma City University!

Miriah

The First Day of School…Part 21

So, a little bit about me: I am a 29 year old Oklahoma Girl from a rural town in the panhandle. For me, I always knew that there was something more to life than the farming community that I grew up in. As soon as I graduated high school, I went to college with a full ride scholarship to Oklahoma City University, completing my Bachelors in World Religions in the Spring of 2011.

After Undergraduate school, I attended Oklahoma City University again for my Masters, completing my Masters in Liberal Arts in 2014. I have been working full time since then, and just completed my seventh year with an amazing company.

I have always been able to take time off for travel, but wanted to know how I could transform my love of travel into a lucrative new career: enter TESOL.

When I first went to university, my end goal had always been to teach, either at a high school or collegiate level. Unfortunately, the state that I live in pays teachers a paltry wage, and university jobs aren’t nearly as glamorous or as plentiful as I was led to believe. Life sometimes gets in the way of your initial goal, but I believe that if it’s meant to be, you can find a way to make it happen.

Classes officially start on August 20th, and I couldn’t be more excited! Looking forward to sharing my experience with you all, and hopefully we will both navigate this whole thing together.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Inspirational speakers always say the today is the first day of the rest of your life. Never before has that sentiment rang more true for me than today. Today, I was accepted into the Masters in TESOL program at Oklahoma City University.

Why get a Masters, you ask? There are many people that go over to teach English in a foreign country with a bachelors degree and a dream and yes, I could do that as well. But a masters for me means more money, more knowledge, and the endpoint of a personal goal that I have set for myself since I was a teenager.

I’m primarily writing this blog to document my trials and impressions of completing my Master of Arts in TESOL, applying for positions, getting a VISA, moving to a foreign country, and hopefully highlighting cultural differences and similarities through food, pop culture, history and more.

Today was the day that I was officially accepted into the graduate program at Oklahoma City University.

So really, today is the first day of the rest of my life.