Thor Sawin
Office
400 Pacific Street D209
Tel
(831) 647-4110
Email
tsawin@middlebury.edu

Thor Sawin (Associate Professor, TFL/TESOL programs) is a linguist, applied linguist, and teacher of English and German as a foreign language, with over seventeen years of teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels in Lithuania, Korea, China and the US, as well as shorter secondary-level programs in Korea, Taiwan and Albania. Thor is passionate about language learning as hospitality, balancing the cognitive and social aspects of language learning, and helping people identify and acquire the “ways of speaking” they will need to be effective cross-cultural collaborators.

At MIIS, he primarily teaches courses on linguistics (language acquisition, linguistic analysis, language and social policy, and applying technology to language learning) and on intercultural communication, and has also taught German at the Middlebury Language Schools, Middlebury College, and UC Santa Cruz.  

Thor has presented research at over 50 refereed international and several regional conferences on topics within language teaching, multilingualism, and international development. His fieldwork in Eurasia focuses on language acquisition practices and policies for personnel within international organizations, and he co-organizes the International Congress on Language Learning for field learning policy makers and practitioners. Additionally, he leads workshops on applying second language acquisition, mobile technologies for language learning, field-based language learning, and creating task-based language learning materials for government organizations (such as the US Air Force and the US State Department), teaching organizations (such as Princeton University, the American Council of Hebrew Teachers), and several international development organizations.   

Courses Taught

Course Description

Editing Writing is a course in structural, stylistic, and copy-editing which will help you develop the necessary tools to revise and edit your own writing. We will use short papers from this class and longer papers from your other classes to sharpen your editing skills.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022 - MIIS

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Course Description

Beginning German Continued
This course is the intensive continuation of GRMN 0101 which will further the development of your language skills in an immersion-like environment, and will include bi-weekly cultural readings in English. Classes meet for two hours each morning, then lunch at the language tables, in addition to afternoon and evening activities (e.g. film screenings). Completion of this course is a prerequisite to enrollment in GRMN 0103. (GRMN 0101 or equivalent)

Terms Taught

Winter 2020

Requirements

LNG, WTR

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Course Description

This level is designed for students who have had no previous experience with German. By the end of the summer, students will be able to employ all four modalities to communicate in German about simple topics, such as information about one’s self and others, activities and events, occupations and pastimes, and the world around us. They will learn to interact in routine and familiar situations of everyday life and narrate events in present and past tenses. During the summer, students will learn to recognize and correctly employ the foundational structures of German grammar and will establish a basic vocabulary relating to the aforementioned topics. All language acquisition will happen in cultural contexts that will also inspire comparisons with other cultures and support the development of trans- and intercultural competencies.

Note: All students who have prior knowledge of German and want to be placed beyond the Elementary German level (101-102-103) are required to take an analytical placement examination involving all four skills. On the basis of the test results, students will be advised concerning their course selections.

Terms Taught

Summer 2019 Language Schools, LS 7 Week Session, Summer 2020 Language Schools, Summer 2022 Language Schools, LS 7 Week Session

Requirements

LNG

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Course Description

This level is designed for students who have had no previous experience with German. By the end of the summer, students will be able to employ all four modalities to communicate in German about simple topics, such as information about one’s self and others, activities and events, occupations and pastimes, and the world around us. They will learn to interact in routine and familiar situations of everyday life and narrate events in present and past tenses. During the summer, students will learn to recognize and correctly employ the foundational structures of German grammar and will establish a basic vocabulary relating to the aforementioned topics. All language acquisition will happen in cultural contexts that will also inspire comparisons with other cultures and support the development of trans- and intercultural competencies.

Note: All students who have prior knowledge of German and want to be placed beyond the Elementary German level (101-102-103) are required to take an analytical placement examination involving all four skills. On the basis of the test results, students will be advised concerning their course selections.

Terms Taught

Summer 2019 Language Schools, LS 7 Week Session, Summer 2020 Language Schools, Summer 2022 Language Schools, LS 7 Week Session

Requirements

EUR, LNG

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Course Description

This level is designed for students who have had no previous experience with German. By the end of the summer, students will be able to employ all four modalities to communicate in German about simple topics, such as information about one’s self and others, activities and events, occupations and pastimes, and the world around us. They will learn to interact in routine and familiar situations of everyday life and narrate events in present and past tenses. During the summer, students will learn to recognize and correctly employ the foundational structures of German grammar and will establish a basic vocabulary relating to the aforementioned topics. Special emphasis will also be placed upon developing students’ reading comprehension skills through exposure to a wide variety of textual genres from different disciplines. Finally, by making comparisons to current contemporary life and society of the German-speaking world, they will begin to develop intercultural literacy and an enhanced global awareness. One hour each day will focus on German for reading knowledge to develop successful strategies for reading German texts for academic and study purposes. Emphasis will be placed on recognition and interpretation of grammatical structures, vocabulary expansion, and analytical discussion. Students will be exposed to texts from a variety of genres and disciplines in order to advance their reading comprehension skills. Due to the Language Pledge, this course will not include applied translation. Upon completion, students can generally expect to achieve a solid A2 or ‘threshold’ B1 level.

Note: All students who have prior knowledge of German and want to be placed beyond the Elementary German level (101-102-103) are required to take an analytical placement examination involving all four skills. On the basis of the test results, students will be advised concerning their course selections.

Terms Taught

Summer 2019 Language Schools, LS 7 Week Session

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

This level is designed for students who have had no previous experience with German. By the end of the summer, students will be able to employ all four modalities to communicate in German about simple topics, such as information about one’s self and others, activities and events, occupations and pastimes, and the world around us. They will learn to interact in routine and familiar situations of everyday life and narrate events in present and past tenses. During the summer, students will learn to recognize and correctly employ the foundational structures of German grammar and will establish a basic vocabulary relating to the aforementioned topics. Special emphasis will also be placed upon developing students’ reading comprehension skills through exposure to a wide variety of textual genres from different disciplines. Finally, by making comparisons to current contemporary life and society of the German-speaking world, they will begin to develop intercultural literacy and an enhanced global awareness. One hour each day will focus on German for reading knowledge to develop successful strategies for reading German texts for academic and study purposes. Emphasis will be placed on recognition and interpretation of grammatical structures, vocabulary expansion, and analytical discussion. Students will be exposed to texts from a variety of genres and disciplines in order to advance their reading comprehension skills. Due to the Language Pledge, this course will not include applied translation. Upon completion, students can generally expect to achieve a solid A2 or ‘threshold’ B1 level.

Note: All students who have prior knowledge of German and want to be placed beyond the Elementary German level (101-102-103) are required to take an analytical placement examination involving all four skills. On the basis of the test results, students will be advised concerning their course selections.

Terms Taught

Summer 2019 Language Schools, LS 7 Week Session

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Course Description

Terms Taught

Spring 2022 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop, Spring 2023 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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Course Description

Serves as an introduction to linguistic analysis. Includes projects based on fieldwork in phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse, and pragmatics. Discusses importance of language awareness. Includes pedagogical strategies for consciousness-raising.

Terms Taught

Summer 2022 - MIIS, MIIS Second Half of Term, Fall 2022 - MIIS

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Course Description

Examines the syntax and discourse of modern English for ESL and EFL teaching. Spotlights practical applications for the classroom. Prerequisite: Language Analysis

Terms Taught

Spring 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

This course is designed to provide teachers of different languages with opportunities to investigate and practice pedagogical subject matter knowledge and grammar teaching strategies in the language that they teach. There will be a number of different languages represented in the class, which will afford multiple opportunities to explore, investigate, and share a variety of pedagogical perspectives and linguistic experiences.

The course will combine a focus on recent theoretical approaches to grammar (cognitive grammar, construction grammar, systemic – functional grammar) with innovative and practical approaches to teaching and learning in an authentic, action-based and interaction-rich setting.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

Terms Taught

Summer 2022 - MIIS, MIIS Second Half of Term, Fall 2022 - MIIS

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Course Description

The Applied Linguistics Capstone is designed to help TESOL/TFL students refine their skills as applied linguistics professionals. Course participants will develop either a curriculum project, a, empirical research report, or an assessment tool, using original data that they have collected and analyzed. The course also aims to induce students to reflect on their previous coursework, as well as explore and clarify their future plans for careers as language teaching professionals.

Applied Linguistics Capstone Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

Understand processes of inquiry relevant to language education

Plan research activities for designing curriculum and language instruction, assessment, or empirical investigation

Execute data collection procedures

Analyze data using appropriate quantitative and qualitative methods

Synthesize and report findings clearly, convincingly, and creatively for a professional audience

Apply research skills in educational settings

Terms Taught

Spring 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

Language Analysis
This course serves as an introduction to linguistic analysis. Includes projects based on fieldwork in phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse, and pragmatics. Discusses importance of language awareness. Includes pedagogical strategies for consciousness-raising. The dates of this course are AUGUST 24 through DECEMBER 11. Registering for this course signals your interest in taking the course. You will be notified via email on August 21 whether you can officially enroll in the course. . * The dates of this course are AUGUST 24 through DECEMBER 11*. Registering for this course signals your interest in taking the course. You will be notified via email on August 21 whether you can officially enroll in the course.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

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Course Description

Structure of English
Examines the syntax and discourse of modern English for ESL and EFL teaching. Spotlights practical applications for the classroom. Prerequisite: Language Analysis (Open to Juniors and Seniors only) (Open to students who have taken Language Analysis or equivalent, you must contact Kathi Bailey from Monterey (kb@middlebury.edu) for review of MIDD course background.) The dates of this course are JANUARY 31 through MAY 20. Registering for this course signals your interest in taking the course.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2021, MIIS courses in College Term, Spring 2023, MIIS courses in College Term

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Course Description

Pedagogical Grammar in FLT
"This course is designed to provide teachers of different languages with opportunities to investigate and practice pedagogical subject matter knowledge and grammar teaching strategies in the language that they teach. There will be a number of different languages represented in the class, which will afford multiple opportunities to explore, investigate, and share a variety of pedagogical perspectives and linguistic experiences.
The course will combine a focus on recent theoretical approaches to grammar (cognitive grammar, construction grammar, systemic – functional grammar) with innovative and practical approaches to teaching and learning in an authentic, action-based and interaction-rich setting." (Open to Junior and Seniors only) (Open to students who have taken Language Analysis or equivalent, you must contact Kathi Bailey from Monterey (kb@middlebury.edu) for review of MIDD course background.) ?The dates of this course are JANUARY 31 through MAY 20. Registering for this course signals your interest in taking the course.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023, MIIS courses in College Term

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Areas of Interest

My approach to the study of human language centers on hospitality and wonder. Language learning is the ultimate form of respect you can show a culture, and speaking to someone in their own words can be a powerful gift. I am passionate about training learners to notice, be fascinated by, and grow competence in the complex multilingual practices around them, and increasingly in the ways that technology helps learners to do so. Learning and using others’ ways of speaking is essential to any cross-cultural social engagement, and I want to help organizations support language learning more effectively with language acquisition policies and practices.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Linguistics, University of South Carolina, 2013
  • MA in Linguistics, Michigan State University, 2003 
  • MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), Michigan State University, 2003 
  • BS in Geography and Linguistics, Michigan State University, 2000

Professor Sawin has been teaching at the Institute since 2013.

Publications

  • Sawin, Thor. (forthcoming). “Technology and the development of pragmatic and intercultural competence”. In Ziegler, N. (Ed.) Routledge Handbook of SLA and Technology. Routledge.

  • Sawin, Thor. (2018). “Ideology, methodology, and morality in host language learning”. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 17(4).

  • Sawin, Thor. (2018). “Media and English“. In J. Liontas (Ed.) TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching,  John Wiley, in partnership with TESOL International. 

  • Guillen, Gabriel; Sarah Springer and Thor Sawin. (2017). “Beyond the magic pill: The lingo of language learning products”. In Ling, S. &  Li, Jinrong (Eds.) Assessment Across On-line Language Education. CALICO Book series.   

  • Sawin, Thor (2015). “What ‘getting by with English’ costs: Language choices and consequences for cross-cultural fieldwork”. In A. Farrell (Ed.), Reconsidering Development, Vol. 4: The Role of Language in International Development. 

  • Sawin, Thor (2017). Mobile Assisted Language Learning (a website for practitioners). http://sites.miis.edu/mall

  • Sawin, Thor (2017). Language resources for social impact (a website of resources for field learning). http://socialimpact.middcreate.net/language-content/

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