EAP Faculty Spotlight: Mr. Valdorian Cline
For around thirty years, Mr. Valdorian Cline, the cornerstone of LUJ’s EAP (English for Academic Purposes) program, has helped navigate thousands of students through the turbulent waters of the English language.
Classes at Lakeland University Japan started on April 22, 1991, and Professor Cline joined LUJ a year later. He is to us the embodiment of LUJ values and integrity, and we’re thankful to him for providing us with answers to the questions below.
1) In your EAP classes, a wide variety of topics are covered, from ancient history to outer space. How do you go about deciding which topics to emphasize in class, because it seems like, well, the universe is the limit?
The topics for my classes are usually chosen based on the textbook topic for any given week. Additional topics for supplementary materials most often grow out of ideas and opinions expressed by the students during class discussions.
My hope is to always make the information that is covered in the textbook as relevant and interesting as possible to each particular group of students.
2) Many who have been around you, especially during graduation, remember your piano performances. When did you first start playing, and how has music in general affected the way you conduct a class?
My life-long connection to the music of J.S. Bach, especially the fugues, is so intricate and multidisciplinary that I hesitate to even attempt a meaningful explication of its profound pedagogical influence in this forum.
The music of Beethoven has been a major influence on the overall general plan of my classes. Following the structure of the first movements of his symphonies, I begin with an introduction, followed by a statement of the main themes, a development of the core ideas, and a conclusion that returns to the main ideas that were presented in the beginning.
This is also, of course, the basic plan for an academic essay, and I have found it to be a very effective way to ensure that the students learn as much as possible and also gain the skill of logically developing their own ideas and communicating them to their classmates and teachers.
3) You have been with LUJ for nearly thirty years. That means you started pre-Internet. We're curious to know: How would you say LUJ students have changed over time? We imagine there are perhaps certain abilities that students have both lost and gained. Could you maybe describe some of your own experiences?
The advent of the internet was a huge turning point in the ability of our students to quickly access a vast amount of detailed information. This allowed them not only to clarify the concepts and ideas that were being presented in their classes and textbooks but also to perform their own research on related or different topics that were of interest to them.
I can clearly remember how this new and direct access to the world's storehouse of knowledge suddenly added new depths to the ideas and opinions that the students were able to express during class discussions.
4) What would you say brings you the greatest joy in the classroom? Are there certain moments that you never tire of seeing? Perhaps we should consider the converse: Are there moments of frustration?
My greatest joy in a class is seeing our students reach an achievement that they thought was beyond their ability. These moments, whether they occur on a test, a homework assignment, or during a class discussion, are the times during which the students learn what is perhaps one of the most useful and life-changing lessons of all: that they are much more capable than they presently realize and that their possibilities are far wider than they know.