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College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

 
In the Spotlight

On this page we feature a member of the Second Language Studies Program. Right now our spotlight is on Yeon Heo, an SLS Ph.D. candidate who is finishing her dissertation.


May 2016

Yeon Heo

Yeon Heo

It is a great honor to be one of the SLS students in the spotlight.

I started my karma with languages as an EFL learner. This has developed into my career as a teacher in an EFL learning situation. Then I found myself a master’s degree student at Michigan State University as an ESL learner. Now, I am a SLS student, working on my dissertation. Naturally, my research interests have been effective learning/teaching of EFL/ESL, implicit/explicit linguistic knowledge of ESL/EFL learners, grammar and vocabulary learning/teaching of adults, effective form-focused instruction, and the role of SLA researchers for practices of language teachers. As a research assistant, I worked for the project VAULTT, video assistance for understanding language teaching techniques, and for Dr. Susan Gass in editing the fourth edition of Second Language Acquisition; An Introductory Course. As a teaching assistant, I taught Introduction to Second Language Acquisition.

While I was doing my course work in SLS at MSU, Moses’ story has come my way, making my research spicier. He was Jewish, but grew up in the Egyptian kingdom. Apparently, he did not use his mother tongue, an ancient form of Hebrew. Instead, he had to speak and write his dominant language, an old form of Egyptian. He was a heritage language (HL) learner of Hebrew. He did not receive enough input of Hebrew, which made him a less-than-perfect bilingual. When God assigned him leader of the Israel people in the coming exodus in Exodus, he declined the order by making an excuse “I am slow of speech and tongue (Exodus 4:10).” As a researcher in SLA, I interpreted this, as “I am such a poor HL learner to lead the Israel people.” Yes. This is how I got interested in HL learning/teaching and widened my horizon of research. This is also why I keep asking myself what to do for improving Moses’ HL. More input? What kind of input? More implicit learning or explicit learning? In the same or separate class with L2 learners of Hebrew? These questions spurred me into teaching Korean classes at Montgomery College in Maryland for one year and obtaining invaluable teaching experience of Korean. Thankfully, my interest in HL learning has enriched my studies about EFL/ESL learning, making me think more deeply about input, age of onset, types of learning and knowledge, and ultimately on how to become a better bilingual.

As I approach the final line in this program, I am also doing my mandatory teaching service in Pusan, Korea. I am currently teaching EFL learners in the high school affiliated with the Pusan National University. My main focus of teaching EFL learners is how to facilitate their learning through balancing four skills in an foci-on-meaning-AND-form instruction setting. In addition to teaching, I have focused on how to administer my students’ research projects through educating teachers as well as students effectively and efficiently. I have also managed student-teacher training by planning, editing manuals, executing, communicating, and utilizing feedback constructively. If you want to know more about my research, please visit this site.

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