Student Stephanie Wilton Kumagai: A Day in My Life

A student in the Academic Year MA in Teaching, Stephanie and her husband, Muneaki , moved to Brattleboro in August. In addition to her full-time study of teaching, Stephanie works part-time in SIT’s Admissions Office.  Having taught English to children in Japan for two years and wondering about teaching at a university level, she came to SIT in order to learn more about curriculum design and how language learners learn.  Here she describes what her Monday, September 29, was like.

It is hard to believe that almost a month has gone by since I first arrived at SIT for the MAT orientation.  Time has really flown by, but somewhere in the middle of all the transitions, I finally feel settled in.  I have a routine…well, at least somewhat of a routine, and I am starting to feel more relaxed about my classes and the expectations of the program.  I would like to share what a “typical” day is like for me as an Internationalist in MAT.

6:30 – Get up early because I feel inspired to try out my new Pilates workout.
Do some reading and note taking for my Language Analysis and Lesson Planning class.

10:10 – Head up to campus from the house I’m renting in West Brattleboro (about 15 minutes away).

10:30 – Language Analysis and Lesson Planning.
Today we reviewed the vowel system for English and moved on to a discussion about consonants.  We worked in groups to write out words phonetically.  We had a long discussion about voiced and voiceless consonants.  Our homework for next class is transcribing a poem by Shel Silverstein phonetically and researching three interesting things about Haiku poetry.  This class was particularly meaningful for me because it was my first exposure to transcribing phonetically.  The group work was particularly helpful because other students in my group had had a lot of experience with it, so they could provide a lot of great insights and tricks on how to learn the material. The opportunities to learn from my peers are some of the most rich experiences I have had in the MAT program so far.

12:15 – Working lunch with my group mates.  Busy, busy, busy rehearsing for our “Grammar” lesson.

1:30 – Second Language Acquisition.
This week we have our group presentations on “Lexicon,” “Grammar,” and “Pragmatics.”  Today my group was up.  We are the “Grammar” group, so we have researched many different perspectives on how and when to teach grammar and related our findings to our classmates.  We presented three interactive mini lessons using three different methods of grammar teaching.  I was surprised to find how well our group worked together.  In the past, I tended to find group presentations frustrating because some members do not pull their own weight.  Group work is an integral part of the SIT experience and learning that working together effectively is possible has been an invaluable experience for me.

3:30 – Debriefing our presentation.  We reflected on what went well and what could have been structured differently.  Considering the challenges of designing a lesson to include eight people’s ideas, it was great!

4:00 – Go back home via Hannaford (because I’ve put off grocery shopping for way too long…again).

5:00 – Finalize a proposal for presenting a workshop on “warm-up” activities at the Costa Rica TESOL conference in January during my internship there.

Each day I have a slightly different schedule depending on my classes and other activities happening on campus, but the feel of the day is generally the same.  Although I am pretty tired by the end of the day, I have found that when I come home, I can name several concrete things that I learned that day.  On Monday, I learned about writing English phonetically, some ideas on using these phonetic transcriptions to help English learners, and that effective group work is possible.  The applicability of the subject matter to real language teaching and learning settings is what impresses me most every day as I attend class.


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