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Posts Tagged ‘University of Washington’

by Melike Yucel Koc

In 2008, with three years of teaching experience at a state secondary school and a master’s degree in English Language Teaching, I decided to come to the U. S. to explore the American culture. My journey in the States started as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at Portland State University (PSU), Oregon. After teaching Turkish at PSU for one academic year, I decided to take classes from the Applied Linguistics Department. In 2009, I was accepted to the master’s degree program in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in Applied Linguistics. As a bilingual, my research interest was on bilinguals and their use of emotion language. I completed the degree in TESOL in two years with a thesis topic focused on Emotion Language of Turkish-English Bilinguals.

After completing the master’s program, I started looking for doctoral programs in the Portland and Seattle area. I always wanted to pursue a Ph.D. degree in language education. My master’s degree experience at a university in the U.S. encouraged me to stay in the country and continue my studies. When I couldn’t find Ph.D. Programs in Applied Linguistics in the Pacific Northwest, I started to look for professors with similar research interests and I found Dr. Nagy at SPU! I thought working with him would be a great opportunity for me – and indeed it is!

Since starting the program in 2011, I completed three quarters of coursework and I learned much about research and educational theories in the core courses. Writing a colloquium paper gave me the opportunity to focus on my own research interest which is morphological awareness and academic reading of adult second language learners. Working as a graduate assistant in School of Education at SPU provides me with the opportunity of conducting research. In short, SPU has been a great learning environment for me. Through a teaching practicum that is part of the doctoral program, I was able to teach second year Turkish at the University of Washington in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations. I had 8 students – 7 were American and one Albanian. Preparing the course syllabus and materials, keeping a reflective journal, and being formally observed all contributed to my learning and teaching to a great extent. Furthermore, I gained teaching experience at the university level.

After completing the Ph.D. program at SPU, my long-term goal is to get published and teach at the university level in a TESOL program while training future language teachers.

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Melike is a student in the Ph.D. Program in Education at Seattle Pacific University. She currently serves as a Graduate Assistant at SPU and as an Instructor at the University of Washington’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

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ImageI have always been interested in how children learn words and how vocabulary can best be taught, and over the years I have often tried to synthesize what I know about effective vocabulary instruction.  My most recent publication (Nagy & Townsend, 2012) is the latest such attempt, focusing in particular on the challenges students face in understanding academic language.  I am also interested in how students’ awareness of language contributes to their reading ability.  In particular, I have been investigating morphological awareness – students’ knowledge about morphemes (prefixes, roots, and suffixes).  In my recent work with Dr. Scott Beers, I have also begun dealing with another aspect of literacy, writing.

Everything I know about these topics is going to be needed for my upcoming research.  Dr. Beers and I are now part of the research team led by Dr. Virginia Berninger at the University of Washington in the new Center for the Defining and Treating Specific Learning Disabilities in Written Language.  This center is part of the Learning Disabilities Research Centers Consortium funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).  (For a press release, see http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/011712-learning-disabilities-centers.cfm).  We’ll be part of an interdisciplinary team, including not only educators, but computer scientists, geneticists, and experts in brain imaging.  Our work will range from basic research on the nature of writing disabilities to very applied work on developing interventions to help students who struggle with writing.

Nagy, W.  & Townsend, D. (2012).   Words as tools:  Learning academic vocabulary as language acquisition.  Reading Research Quarterly, 47(1), 91-108.

Dr. Nagy has been a Professor in the School of Education at SPU since 1996. He teaches literacy and research courses and mentors many doctoral students. He was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame for his pioneering work in vocabulary development. 

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