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Posts from the ‘School’ Category

*Degree complete!

Well, I am officially a Master of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages now. At least, I have a degree that says so!

Finishing grad school is a great feeling- for the first time in my life, I am done writing papers and taking exams with no future plans for writing or taking any more! (I’m sure I will still be grading quite a few, but that’s another thing entirely).

I had a really great experience at SPU- the program has wonderful professors and I learned so much from both them and my classmates. While I won’t miss the assignments, I will miss seeing my classmates on a regular basis.

The craziest part of it all is that I have now finished doing what I moved to Seattle to do- get a master’s degree. So, this naturally leads to the question that everyone has been asking… what’s next? That’s a great question, and one that I do not have a direct answer for, yet. (However, if you’d rather know the Latin roots of a word like “unanimous” or the difference between the simple past, past progressive, present perfect, present perfect progressive, past perfect, and past perfect progressive, I’m happy to answer those questions, with examples. Email me).

For now, I’ll still be teaching as usual and tutoring for Microsoft. I’m looking for another part-time job as well, preferably teaching an ESL class at a community college, but I’d be up for something that didn’t require planning and preparing as well. I’m also planning to finally complete a very long application for living in a particular country that is close to my heart… but we’ll see what happens with that.  Details will be given when there are details to share.  It’s too early to know anything yet!

One thing is for sure… until further notice, I am quite content to be in Seattle enjoying the sunny weather of summer, the amazing coffee, cheering on the Mariners, and spending time with my incredible friends, not stressing about school!

*April Showers Bring May Flowers?

As I write this, it is so gray and overcast outside that the Seattle skyline (which I normally have a pretty good view of) is all but invisible.  This morning, a little bit of snow was mixed in with the rain.  However, even though it may not feel like spring at all, “spring” break has come and gone and “spring” quarter has begun, so I guess spring is here.  (At least, Seattle’s version of spring, which is very similar to winter in North and South Carolina).

Spring break was nice, even if it went by too quickly.  Kary (former college roommate) came into town for a long weekend; it was fun to show her around.  Melissa, one of my best friends from high school, is coming to visit at the end of this month, so I’ll have lots of practice “playing tour guide” before Mom and Dad get here in June for graduation.

Speaking of, it’s hard to believe that I’ll actually be done with grad school in “3 months and 15 days” as the countdown on my computer says.  I’ve really enjoyed the program at SPU and I’ll miss seeing my classmates and professors on a regular basis, but I have to say that it will be nice to be just a teacher instead of both a teacher and a student!  I do think this quarter (my next to last quarter) will be less stressful than winter quarter was.  I’m only taking two courses, Professional Issues & Ethics and Phase II of my teaching practicum.

While I’m talking about teaching, I’d like to mention my “class blog.”  I’ve discovered that some people who read this blog actually have stumbled across it while searching for things related to TESOL.  Last quarter, in my “Technology in the Language Classroom” class, we had the opportunity to design a website that was somehow related to English teaching for extra credit.  I created a simple administrative blog for the class I teach where I can post announcements and assignments and where my students can post questions and comments.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here.

Okay, not too much else to say for now.  Check back for another post soon!

*March is here… and halfway over!

Wow, the past few weeks have flown by.

Good news!  I’ve been back in my apartment for two weeks now.  Everything (except the overhead light that won’t turn on) is as good as before, or even better: I’ve got new carpet, a new ceiling, one new wall, and a fresh coat of paint.  Last night I had some friends over for a housewarming party (after being out of my apartment for nine weeks after the pipes froze, I figured a proper ‘warming’ was definitely needed)!

I’ve been teaching Level 4 for five weeks now, which means I’m halfway through the Level 4 curriculum.  I really loved teaching Level 3, so I was a little surprised to find that I think I like Level 4 even more!  Level 4 students generally have better speaking skills and a larger vocabulary, so you can discuss more interesting topics.  I have a great class right now, with students from Japan, Korea, Thailand, Libya, and Taiwan.  (My students from Turkey and Kuwait are on vacation, but will be back soon).

Winter Quarter this year has turned out to be one of the most time-consuming quarters of grad school thus far, but luckily it will be over after class on Monday night.  Next quarter I’ll be taking Phase II of my Practicum, which means I’ll be doing a combination of observing and teaching.  I’ll only be taking one other class, Professional Issues and Ethics, which I’ve heard is interesting, but not too time-consuming.

Spring break starts after class on Monday; I don’t have any exciting trips planned, but Kary, one of my roommates from college, is coming into town on Thursday… I’m really excited to see her and to play tour guide in Seattle!

Okay, I better get back to work on my final project for sociolinguistics… stay tuned for more posts soon!

*It’s Been a Few Weeks.

Oh let’s see, as always, it’s been a while since I’ve updated this. January turned out to be a pretty eventful month. As if working two different jobs, being a full-time grad student, doing my teaching practicum, and having to move out of my apartment wasn’t enough, I also experienced running out of gas and having my wallet either lost or stolen (still not sure which). All of this happened during the first two weeks of the year, and the last two things happened within two hours of each other!

Luckily, I was able to get gas with no problem (thanks to AAA) and have pretty much taken care of canceling and replacing all of my cards, etc in my wallet. (I still need to get a new Blockbuster card and SPU ID, but neither of those are of immediate need). Also, the rest of the year since then has been much less exciting!

Work and school have been keeping me busy. I’ve officially been teaching for a year as of tomorrow, which is hard to believe! It’s true that experience is the best teacher. Everything I’ve learned in my TESOL program has been helpful, but being able to actually try out the methods and activities we discuss in class has been invaluable! I’ve definitely learned a lot (and, in my opinion, become a much better teacher) since I first started last February!

Since I came back to Seattle after Christmas I’ve been teaching my same Level 3 Intermediate class that I began with a year ago. I’ve had a fun, diverse group this year, including students from seven countries: Japan, Korea, Italy, Turkey, Kuwait, Libya, and Thailand. Tomorrow, however I’m moving to Level 4: Upper Intermediate. I’m looking forward to the change, although I’m sure a new level will present new challenges. Two of my current Level 3 students (from Turkey and Kuwait) are also moving to Level 4 tomorrow, so I’m sure it will be nice to have some familiar faces in the class.

My practicum has also been going well. I’m currently in the first phase of the two-phase practicum, which means I’m mainly observing the teachers. I do interact from time to time, acting as a teacher assistant of sorts. I’m available to answer questions and check classwork, as well as participating in discussions from time to time. As one of the students put it, they’re getting “two teachers for the price of one.”

Outside of school and work I’ve been busy doing… well, honestly, other than church, not much else. A couple of weeks ago I went skiing with two of the Italians I know here in Seattle (one former and one current student). We had a great time, but it definitely took me a while to get the hang of skiing again. (Thinking about it afterward, this was probably the first time I had gone skiing in eight or so years). I’m going skiing again in a couple of weeks with work as the “chaperone.” Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too much!

The church I go to here in Seattle, Blue Sky, (which is actually in Bellevue and not Seattle) has been getting bigger lately. In fact, my “small” group has gotten quite big- we’ve had 17 or 18 people coming every week lately. Because we’re so big, we’re going to become two groups in a couple of weeks. Sam (the current leader) will lead one group and Mark (my former roommate Heather’s husband) will be leading the other. I’m still not sure which group I’ll be in, but I am looking forward to being in a small small group again!

Oh yeah, and for anyone interested in the status of my apartment, they finally started fixing it last Monday. I stopped by on Friday afternoon to see how repairs were coming, and was surprised to discover that the ceiling and one of the walls were completely gone! However, I was even more surprised (pleasantly surprised) when I stopped by this afternoon and found that a new ceiling and wall had already been installed, and the three holes in another wall had been patched. Hopefully this is a good sign that progress is being made and I’ll be able to get back in soon!

Alright, I think that’s everything for now; hopefully I’ll have a chance to update again soon.

*Life, at the Moment.


It’s That Time of the Year Again…

I like the quarter system because courses are compact and they change more often. The one disadvantage, however, is that Finals Week happens three times a year instead of twice. I have one week left to prepare for finals, write two papers, complete a project, and give a presentation. (And all of this is in addition to preparing and teaching a three-hour long class everyday)!

However, there is a light (or many of them, based on the pictures I’ve seen) at the end of the tunnel: Once I hand in my final assignments I’ll be hopping on a plane and flying to Vegas to see my parents and brother for a much needed vacation! Stay tuned for pictures from the trip; I just got a new digital camera and I’m looking forward to using it.

A New Year, A New Quarter.

Hello 2008!

After a wonderful week visiting friends in South Carolina and spending time with friends and family at home in North Carolina, I’ve been back in Seattle for about a week now. I spent my first West Coast-New Year’s Eve at D-CLAM, a house where several of my friends from Blue Sky live. (Named from the letters that start each of the girls’ names, D-CLAM reminds me of the Duplex. It’s physically a much nicer house, but it seems to be the place where people are always dropping by and hanging out).

School started back on Thursday and I’m already back to studying at coffeehouses. (Speaking of, I’m currently at University Zoka, a local cafe near my apartment). I’m looking forward to my courses this quarter. I’m taking Morphology (the study of the internal structure of words), Syntax (the study of the rules that govern the structure of sentences), and Teaching ESL Writing. So far, Syntax is the only class that’s met yet. I’ll admit that syntax can be dull, but my professor is very passionate and excited about it, which should help. Additionally, I remembered one of the things I love about my program here while we were introducing ourselves during class on Thursday. In addition to the basic things like where you’re from and are you an undergrad or grad student, our professor asked us all to list what languages we had studied. It was really fun to hear the different languages that my classmates were familiar with (in addition to the standard Spanish and French, almost a third of the class had some sort of familiarity with Ethiopian and various dialects, and other students had studied everything from Classical Greek and Latin to Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic). I was surprised to realize that I’ve formally studied three languages now (Latin, Italian, and Arabic), in addition to all the Slovak I have learned through my friends.

I also started my new job as an English tutor for Microsoft employees and family members. My first student is a 27-year-old who just moved here from India. We met for the first time on Friday and I really enjoyed the brief meeting that we had. We’ll be meeting twice a week for the next ten weeks or so to work on pronunciation and conversation skills as well as idioms, slang, and business terminology. I just spent an hour preparing for tomorrow’s session, and I can tell already that this job will be very useful for me. Because I’m tutoring a student who is not taking English lessons outside of ours, the entire curriculum is up to me. I have complete control over which textbooks and resources we use, as well as what activities we do during the sessions. It’s a lot of responsibility (it’s much easier to tutor a student who just needs help on homework assigned by another teacher), but it should help familiarize me with many available ESL resources and also develop a collection of resources and activities.

Finally, I will only be working as a nanny for about two more weeks. After that I’ll need to find an additional job to complement the English tutoring. I’m not exactly sure where I’ll be working yet, but I have already started applying to a variety of different jobs- I’ll keep you posted!