Reflections on the past semester in SLAT, University of Arizona

I was planning this post toward the end of the Fall semester when I was dealing with lots of papers and assignments in a very hectic way, but I have just created some time to write this post and give information about the program I am studying at. In my following blog posts, I also would like to give information about the university and the city as well. This is my first blog post in 2014, and I hope I might write quite more often to update about me, life in the States, and educational technology especially in language learning. Alright then, here is my reflections about my previous semester and SLAT from my perspective.

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SLAT, Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, is one of a few interdisciplinary PhD programs at the University of Arizona. First of all, I do not know any other better decisions than the one to create a program in the field of language acquisition and teaching, which includes a total of 17 departments around the whole university. In fact, it is a program which does not belong to any faculty, but it is supported by many faculties. Before coming to Tucson, Arizona and starting this program, I frankly did not have much idea about this program in spite of all the comprehensive information provided on the SLAT website –handbooks, course lists, descriptions and etc. In other words, I can say that I discovered that had not known enough by the time I arrived in town and started figuring about it. In order to make it easy to follow, I am just going to list the things I discovered which might give my readers to have at least an idea about especially if they are interested in seeking a PhD degree in a related field. These are just some of things I have personally experienced and discovered so far:

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1. When I read these lines on SLAT website ‘The SLAT doctoral program is an interdisciplinary program with 79 faculty members located in 17 collaborating departments.’, they were just some promotional words and sentences for me. However, while making up my mind about the courses I could take at the beginning of semester, I noticed that I could take tens of courses depending on interest and aims. Of course, there are core courses that you have to take, too, but even for those courses there are a lot of alternatives. For example, I took a ‘qualitative research’ course from Higher Education department, and at first I thought that what is going to be taught would be irrelevant to my study topics, but the course gave me a really good perspective about planning higher education programs and showed me a bigger picture of university education. To my surprise, I also discovered that though they might be from different departments, most instructors and even students know SLAT program very well. In this course, I had the chance to practice qualitative research methods directly related to my study topic and introduced what I was studying to others from different departments.

2. As the area of SLAT is relatively huge, it has also successfully been divided into different areas which you can study based on your interests and future aims. Mainly, there are areas such as Pedagogy, Use, Analysis, and Processes which could be supported by various minor programs like Educational technology or any justifiable ones. It should not be understood that the areas are clearly separated and you have to forget the others when you choose one. In contrast, it is a fact that all these areas are related and you can shape your study in an integrative way as well.

3. So far, I have mentioned several facts and information most of which could be found on various sites or reference booklets; however, you need to be part of SLAT program to be able to see how all SLATsters are united with various social and academic events. For example, during the fall semester, we had the chance to gather through various events such as Welcome party, SLAT buddy party, Halloween party, Thanksgiving day and US SLATsters welcoming international students and etc. Not to mention how everybody is incredibly welcoming, friendly, and helpful when you need to ask, learn or request something. Last but not least, SLAT is hosting SLAT Roundtable 2014 event which is an academic seminar supported by plenary speakers and participants from not only UofA but other national colleges. All these organizations are done by students who come together, brainstorm, make decisions during SLATSA meetings. All in all, rather than just a PhD program in which everybody is taking courses toward their degrees and studies, SLAT is a platform where everybody including instructors, administrators, and students support each other for a better end.

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SLAT Thanksgiving Dinner

I hope I have illustrated a bit of a bigger picture of my experience so far. I have mentioned a lot about SLAT program and this has been enough for a blog post, I think, since I do not want to bore you. At my earliest convenience and whenever I can find time, I would like to write about University of Arizona from an international Fulbrighter’s perspective in the States, and also about the city of which most of my citizens or people living in other countries might not have an idea.

Thank you for your time reading and sharing your ideas!

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