Teaching Statement: Philosophy, Goals and Approach

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Dr. A. Raymond Elliott

Professor of Spanish Linguistics

The University of Texas at Arlington


I teach sophomore, junior, senior and master’s level courses on the Spanish language, linguistics, and second language acquisition. The majority of my courses are taught entirely in Spanish and cover topics such as: Spanish morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics, second language acquisition, applied linguistics and methodology. Although I have a personal affinity for traditional face-to-face classes, I have discovered that the use of technology not only facilitates my job as a professor but it can enhance significantly the learning process for my students. I have created hybrid courses, which consist of periodic face-to-face meetings in the classroom in addition to twelve 30 to 35 minute video modules and screencasts I made for students to view at home. Using technology in this way has enabled me to make my classes more student-centered and has freed up class time to focus more on reviewing, in-class discussion, clarifying and resolving areas of misunderstanding. I have since developed online video modules for my other classes as well. Screencasting, Videocasting and the development of web-based resources to teach students and to monitor their mastery have become obligatory components in every course I teach.

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Elliott near the Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico.

Learning never came easily to me and this fact continuously guides my hand as a teacher in both the design and execution of my courses. Being enthusiastic and passionate about the courses I teach is what best describes me as an educator. When students have a teacher who is passionate, dynamic, and enthusiastic about the subject, they are inevitably affected by this and, as I have learned, will engage themselves actively in the learning process. My goal is to create a friendly but challenging atmosphere, whether that be in a traditional classroom here at UT-Arlington, climbing the pyramids of Mexico, supervising interpretation rotations at a local hospital or doing fieldwork on an indigenous language. Most recently, my research interests have expanded to include the documentation of minority indigenous languages of Mexico. In this project, teaching and research particularly dovetail. On two separate occasions, a total of five graduate and two undergraduate students traveled with me to the remote village of Chicahuaxtla to document the language and to learn about methods of language documentation. Based on our fieldwork, two of my graduate students presented their original research on the Chicahuaxtla Triqui verbal system at the ACES conference in 2011 and again in 2012. One of my students won honorable mention for his groundbreaking research. In addition, my students saw the rewards of our fieldwork published as a refereed research article. This was an excellent opportunity to show how research should not be artificially divorced from teaching. In fact, my research informs my teaching and consequently, as I develop as a researcher, the courses I teach continue to evolve as well.

In my classes, I have developed a strategy that appreciates the benefits of integrating lecture with classroom discussion, while attempting to never lose sight of the importance of one-on-one interaction. I have stressed an approach that facilitates the transition from student to scholar--one that emphasizes individualized training and development in both teaching and research, so they too, can be teachers and researchers one day.

In closing, teaching is a learning experience for me and developing relationships with students is also key to their success. I learn that each student has a personal story to share. I learn to turn my enthusiasm and devotion to teaching into a challenging yet enjoyable activity for my students. I learn from a nod as a sign of comprehension and am pleased when a student smiles from a joke. I know that sometimes all a student needs is an additional word of encouragement from me to get back on the right track. I get much more out of teaching than I could ever possibly give and am thankful for having had teachers, both good and bad, who had a profound effect on me both personally and professionally.

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